A Quick-Fire Guide to Text Marketing for Restaurants

Text Marketing for Restaurants

Restaurants and smartphones really aren’t supposed to go together. After all, few patrons want to hear other people’s phone conversations while they’re enjoying a meal out, and one’s dining companions would appreciate your full attention, rather than you constantly being distracted with texting, news headlines or social media.

However, in the hands of restaurant owners and managers, the smartphones can be a useful tool to get people in the door and get them excited about being there. Text marketing for restaurants can provide personalized attention to your customers; especially your regular ones. You can offer all sorts of simple text promotions that can build interest and loyalty.

Using an automated texting software can also free up some of your time. You don’t have to send personalized notes to every single customer, but with the right platform you can give the impression that every guest is being greeted by you personally!

9 Effective Ways to Use Text Marketing for Restaurants

1. Notify customers about advantages of non-peak times 

You can find ways to make your slower times into a positive by letting customers know about things like “lots of open tables,” “better attention from staff” or “less background noise for your group.” A text can remind them about certain food or drink specials during this time too, or include a coupon for better deals during off times.

2. Grow your database

Make it easy for people to sign up for your texting service, whether they’re checking out your site, your social media pages or texting in a promo code. Or, offer them instant gratification and something special if they sign up during their visit – maybe offer a code for an appetizer, discount or drink. The server can mention this, or there could be signage at the table.

3. Alert them to changes in availability

You can take reservations, confirm via text and tell them when their table is ready. Or even better, alert them if a table comes open and allow them to claim it in the next 20 minutes otherwise it goes to the next person on the list. Since people are on their phone regularly, it could be an incentive for them to get moving and enjoy being spontaneous.

4. Alert them to future availability

Though some might like the “do it now” approach, others may prefer to plan ahead. So if someone comes to a restaurant for a special occasion, such as a birthday or an anniversary, the restaurant can text them a note regularly to make sure they make a reservation for this year, in enough time to do so. “Valentine’s Day is only a month away – make sure you have your spot!”

Text Marketing for Restaurants

5. Target patrons by zip code

Your database of opt-ins may allow you to send different notes to guests in different neighborhoods. Invite people living nearby to walk or bike down.

6. Promote menu or bar items

Your kitchen may have special seasonal ingredients, and your guests may want to check out creative ways of using it. This could be anything from a particular fish that’s only in season for a few weeks to a fruit that’s good occasionally.

“Come and try the amazing things our chefs do with blueberries this month.” This could also be tied in to a poll or survey – guests can text back what they liked and maybe see the most popular item added to a permanent menu.

7. Automated greetings 

Have a birthday coming up? Then you, or your loved ones, will likely be interested in some kind of incentive to come celebrate like a discount or free dessert. If your restaurant offers any kind of VIP club/service, then part of the registration for this group often invites patrons to provide a birth date.

Then, you can pre-program a greeting around this event. It could be something a week or so ahead of time so guests can plan ahead. Or even an online coupon that is sent in a text that day, but available up to a month afterward.

8. Special events

If you’re looking for text promotions, there’s always a reason to celebrate. It could be a holiday where people sometimes go out, a sporting event that people like watching, or a special date to commemorate.

“First snowstorm of the year!” “TGIF!” “Summer solstice madness!” Your guests might also feel the same way you do – plenty of reasons to party, especially if you offer some reasons to make it fun.

9. Emergencies

Regular guests might appreciate knowing if something changes, such as a temporary closure. Maybe there’s a mechanical problem or the head chef is sick.

Overall, once you start thinking of creative text promotions, there’s no end of ways you can get your guests excited as well. Even better, you can keep track of different campaigns and see which ones get better results.

For more suggestions for using text marketing for restaurants, check out our Ultimate SMS Marketing Guide! You can also download the PDF version for free here:

ultimate sms marketing guide