Text Message Marketing for Restaurants: A Complete Guide

text message marketing for restaurants

Millions of restaurants around the world compete for the same customers, and only the restaurants with the most effective marketing will come out on top. Cooking great food may seem tough, but getting people in the door is actually the hardest part. The best way to market a restaurant and increase foot traffic is by employing the communications channel that restaurant-goers use the most – text message marketing for restaurants!

Table of Contents

  1. How to use Text Keywords to Grow Customer Database
  2. Utilize Text Alerts to Reduce No-Shows
  3. How To Promote Your Restaurant Business
  4. How To Improve Your Restaurant Sales Through Mobile Coupons
  5. Use MMS to Stand Out During Restaurant Week
  6. How to use Omni-Channel Communication to Maximize Reach
  7. Utilize Two-way Texting for Exceptional Customer Service
  8. Send Text Surveys To Collect Customer and Employee Feedback
  9. Create SMS Loyalty Programs to Establish Loyal Customer Base
  10. How to add Automation to Improve Customer Communication
  11. How to add Automation to Streamline Operations
  12. How to use Mobile Messaging to Manage Ingredient Orders
  13. Helpful Case Studies of Restaurants Using Texting
  14. How to Use Texting to Increase Your Bottom Line
  15. How Restaurants Can Use Trumpia’s Account Management Services

1. How to use Text Keywords to Grow Customer Database

  • Collect Contact Information: Advertise attractive text keywords, such as “Foodie” and “VIP”, across print ads and social media to allow customers to quickly opt-in to receive periodic information and promotions through text. Using a descriptive text keyword will help customers understand what they’re opting-in to, making the decision to opt-in much easier.
  • Minimize Opt-outs: Once a customer opts-in to a text messaging campaign their odds of opting-out is only 3.7%.
  • Utilize Multiple Keywords: Offer specific text keyword opt-in, such as “DEALS” for special event deals and “PIE” for a free slice of pie. Creating these specific keywords and messaging lists allows you to segment your audience in order to deliver personalized and relevant offers.
  • Track Effectiveness and Reach: With an SMS service like Trumpia, you can track up-to-date analytics for each individual keyword, making it extremely easy to assess effectiveness, reach, and how many customers to expect at different events and promotions during the week. Improvements can be made based on the success of previous campaigns, allowing marketing efforts to constantly adapt and advance.
  • Increase Brand Awareness: In order to be a successful restaurant, people must first know that your business exists. With mobile keywords, you’re able to reach a growing number of people at any given time. This allows you to get the message out regarding what services your restaurant provides, while simultaneously building brand awareness.

You can read a real-life example on how McDonalds used text keywords in a campaign on November 2022 in this original article by Trumpia:

How Text Marketing for Restaurants Worked on McDonald’s Last Campaign

2. Utilize Text Alerts to Reserve Tables and Reduce No-Shows

Notify Customers about Non-Peak Times

A challenge for any restaurant is figuring out how to fill empty tables during slow periods. You can transform these slow periods into bustling moments by sending an SMS alert to interested customers advertising limited time offers. This helps to drive them to your restaurant when business is a little slow, which helps your bottom line overall. Most customers will avoid going out to eat if they know there is a long wait, so a simple text could get them out of their dining room and into your corner booth.

Enable Customer to Reserve a Table via a Text Alert Service

The days of calling into a restaurant to ask for a wait time and make a reservation are numbered. With the addition of texting into your restaurant scheduling, you can enable customers to text your restaurant to ask for wait times and make reservations. Customers will then receive real-time updates of when their table will be ready, allowing them to use their wait time to explore nearby locations while reducing no-shows.

Bonus: Manage Your Staff More Efficiently!

If there’s something worse than a half-empty salon is unoccupied staff. That’s a very common problem with no-shows: not only you don’t receive patrons, but you still have to pay to a crew of people who, through no fault of their own, don’t have anyone to serve to! By knowing in advance how many people is going to show show up (at least as an estimate), you can also determine how many staff members you’re going to need that date. Cover booking fulfillment and staff rostering, both at once!

3. How To Promote Your Restaurant

text message marketing for restaurants

Advertise Restaurant Opening

It’s vital during those first weeks of being open to have a successful restaurant marketing plan. A great way to attract customers is by sending an invitation to your restaurant opening. In this restaurant opening invitation, you can send an invitation for dinner through SMS along with a mobile coupon to use during their dinner service. Customers can then make their reservation right there through text.

Promote Special Menu Items

Certain special ingredients are only available during specific seasons, so getting them out the door is crucial. This could be anything from a particular mushroom that’s only in season for a few weeks to a fruit that is only ripe in the spring. An example of a text you can send to share this exclusive dish could be, “Come and try our chef’s special truffle dish that is only available this week!”

Send Targeted Promotions by Zip Code

Utilizing custom data collection fields, you can ask patrons for their zip code in order to send targeted promotions relevant to their location. Having their location allows you to craft a tailored message that will make customers believe you’re talking directly to them. Now you’re able to build a connection with your local customers by messaging these individuals that live in the neighborhood to walk or ride their bikes to get VIP discounts on their food.

Share Special Event Details With Text Marketing

With 13 out of the 20 most successful U.S. fast food chains using SMS to send promotions to customers, it is crucial to effectively communicate when there is a special event coming up. Everyone knows that food is a necessity for almost every celebration. Whether it’s celebrating a holiday with a night out on the town, a popular sporting event, or a special anniversary to commemorate, there is always an opportunity to have a special event promotion. When using SMS marketing for restaurants, you can share details of the upcoming special event, along with an easy to remember keyword like “TGIF” or “SUPERBOWL” to quickly increase the foot traffic to your restaurant.

4. How To Improve Your Restaurant Sales Through Mobile Coupons

Specialized Coupons to Maximize Redemption Rates

At times, paper coupons can be an effective method of quickly enticing customers to make a purchase. But most of the time, these paper coupons prove to be a nuisance to hold onto. To make these coupons more enjoyable, utilize mobile coupons, which are redeemed ten times more than paper ones. Implementing mobile coupons into your restaurant marketing strategy will improve coupon redemption and boost your overall sales in a big way. Plus with digital coupons, you will have trackable numbers that allow you to see what is working for you and what isn’t.

For more information on how text keywords can help boost your business, click here!

5. Use MMS to Stand Out During Restaurant Week

  • Attractive Event Reminders: Use MMS to send out engaging images to your mobile consumers to advertise special tasting, a meet-the-chef event, or a Happy Hour to only the guests that have opted-in.
  • Create Loyal Customer with Customized Coupons: Use the information you know about your customers to send relevant picture coupons that they will surely use. For example, if a patron likes chocolate cake, you can send them a free coupon with a mouth-watering picture of the chocolate cake dessert on your menu.
  • Share Menu Additions: Keep customers up-to-date with the latest additions to your menu by sending pictures of your newest dishes.
  • Special Promotions: Share special offers and advertise events through MMS messages to give customers a taste of what to expect at restaurant week.
  • Cooking Tips: The main draw to restaurant week is exceptional food. Share your cooking tips and recipes by picture messaging your customers in order to gain valuable feedback.

6. How to Use Omni-Channel Communication to Maximize Reach

Implementing an SMS service that includes omni-channel messaging can maximize your reach and increase your number of new customers. An SMS service, like Trumpia, that has omni-channel communication offers a fully integrated interface for messaging across multiple channels including MMS, voice broadcast, email, and social media.

7. Utilize Two-Way Texting For Exceptional Customer Service

Answer Questions Through Text to Retain Customers

An aspect of retaining customers involves answering any questions and concerns. Restaurant visitors expect quality customer service, so it’s essential that you answer their questions as soon as possible. Two-way text messaging is the fastest way to answer any questions your customers have, as the average response time for a text is just 90 seconds.

SMS Ordering System for Mobile Orders

A great use case for a restaurant texting system that can save both the kitchen and front staff tremendous amounts of time is enabling customers to text to order food from your restaurant. By allowing customers to text in their orders ahead of time and take their food on the go, the kitchen will be able to pump out more dishes while keeping your tables free for customers that want to dine in.

Send a Text to Engage with Your Customers

What most restaurants lack is having that powerful personal connection with their patrons. A simple way to spark a lasting relationship with your customers is through an engaging text message. This could be anything from sending a happy birthday message to advertising nightly dishes to get them excited. Customers are able to engage in two way SMS messaging with members of your staff to create a special dining experience that other restaurants are unable to offer.

Send Friendly Text Messages to Show Customers You Care

With an advanced SMS software, you can schedule text messages to be sent out on holidays to your customer base. These simple messages show your customers you care about not just growing your business, but are also concerned about the satisfaction of your customers. A simple “Welcome to the restaurant!” message can go a long way towards establishing a strong bond with customers.

8. Send Text Surveys to Collect Customer and Employee Feedback

In order to improve the way your restaurant serves its patrons, you must actively make improvements based on feedback collected from customers. One of the easiest ways to gather this essential information is through a SMS survey. In fact, an impressive 31% of customers respond to text surveys within five minutes. Customers hate filling out lengthy paper surveys, but most are willing to answer a quick text in order to talk about the service they received that night.

And this extends to staff as well, where you can send text surveys to your staff to determine ways to improve operational efficiency. With a response rate 750% higher than emails, text message surveys sent via SMS will instantly give you the feedback you need to grow.

Examples of different feedback you can collect:

  • Customer’s favorite dishes and drinks
  • Feedback on the service and dining experience
  • Improvements that should be made to the restaurant
  • Menu recommendations

9. Create SMS Loyalty Programs to Establish a Loyal Customer Base

Providing a loyalty program for your patrons will produce the best consumer retention rate possible. By utilizing the information you collected from your customers in your text surveys, such as their favorite food or drink, you can send relevant offers and coupons that they will surely use. These programs are monumental towards establishing customer loyalty. 9 in every 10 consumers who enroll in loyalty programs through text message actively participate and take advantage of them! By adding in surveys, you can offer your VIP’s even more offers in return for more detailed and constructive feedback.

10. How to Add Automation Text to Improve Customer Communication

text message marketing for restaurants

SMS Automated Greetings

Notice a customer’s birthday is coming up? They’ll likely be interested in receiving some kind of incentive to celebrate, like a discount or free dessert. Make their birthday a magical one by automatically sending them mobile coupons for your restaurant. The first thing they will see the morning of their birthday is a joyful text for free food that will get them excited to go into your restaurant to celebrate.

Automated Alerts of Future Availability

While some guests may be fine with the “do it now” approach, others may prefer to plan ahead. If a guest comes into the restaurant for a special event, such as a birthday or an anniversary, the SMS system can text them a note regularly to remind them to make a reservation for this year. An example this would be, “Valentine’s Day is only a week away – make sure you have your reservation!”

For more information on how text automation can improve your customer service, click here!

11. How to Use Automation to Improve Operational Efficiency

Improve Employee Scheduling

A lengthy process for any employer is scheduling their staffs shifts. This is exceptionally difficult with restaurants, as there is a higher turnover rate than most industries. To quickly coordinate available times to work with your staff, send out weekly text reminders to determine the most effective schedule. You can then send automatic reminders everyday to ensure they show up for work.

Reduce No-Shows to Important Meetings

It’s vital to bring everyone together for important staff meetings to get everyone on the same page. If an employee doesn’t show up to your staff meetings, then they will be out of the loop and might need costly extra training. To guarantee that all employees show up to your important meetings, schedule automated text reminders in the days prior to the meeting.

Avoid Missed Deadlines

From turning in paperwork to enrolling for health care plans, ensuring that your employees meet your deadlines is of the utmost importance. To get more of your employees to meet these important deadlines, send scheduled alerts to remind them of the upcoming deadline. Once an employee meets the deadline, the system will automatically track their completion and stop sending reminders.

Effectively Mitigate Emergencies

Much like any other industry, emergency situations can catch a restaurant off guard and completely shut down operations. To effectively resolve these emergencies and get your restaurant back up and running, share emergency contingency plans with your entire staff. That way if an emergency situation does occur, your staff will know what steps to take immediately.

12. How to Use Mobile Messaging to Manage Ingredient Orders

Ordering too much of a particular ingredient will result in spillage and lost revenue. To avoid miscalculations when ordering ingredients, coordinate your order through text messaging. While text promotions can effectively push out dish specials to avoid spoilage of ingredients, the best way to cut costs on food is to coordinate the correct ingredient orders. Vendors are busy and constantly forget ingredients, but with texting you have a searchable thread of messages that allow you to hold your vendors accountable to get what you ordered in the first place.

13. Helpful SMS Case Studies of Restaurants Using Texting

Chick-fil-A Uses Mobile Coupons to Boost Coupon Redemption and Sales

Chick-fil-A, a user of Trumpia’s complete SMS software, utilized text marketing to send promotions, coupons, restaurant alerts, and greetings to their current and potential customer base. By implementing text messaging in their marketing campaigns, they were able to collect nearly 2,000 mobile phone numbers from their mobile keywords. As a result, over 400 people came into the restaurant to redeem their mobile coupons during summer 2011 alone. This equates to a 20% redemption rate for their mobile coupons.  

Jamba Juice Uses Mass SMS and QR Codes to Increase Store Traffic

Another user of Trumpia’s complete SMS software that utilized mobile and social media campaigns was Jamba Juice in Bakersfield. By creating the mobile keyword “JAMBA” and advertising it on point-of-purchase signs and social media, they were able to get over 1,000 customers to opt-in. As a result, Jamba Juice boosted sales by 20%, increased store traffic by 10%, and simultaneously built relationships between the brand and local channels.

7-Eleven Uses Text Keywords and Coupons to Boost Sales

7-Eleven Hawaii, which includes 62 locations, was able to use Trumpia’s SMS software to share the mobile keyword “PROMOS” to acquire over 3,700 sign-ups. Not only did they utilize the service to send thousands of text promotions, they were also able to send reminders days before the coupon expiration to further increase redemption and sales. After seeing the success from their trial location, they extended their text marketing campaigns to all 62 locations in Hawaii.

HighFive Frozen Yogurt Uses Mobile Coupons and Contact Collection to Drive Traffic

High Five Frozen Yogurt used Trumpia’s SMS software to not only send texts, but also offer coupons, collect contact information, and sort customers into location-based groups. They accomplished this by creating a separate keyword and contact database for each of their locations, allowing for targeted marketing promotions. As a result, HighFive Frozen Yogurt has collected over 10,000 mobile numbers and counting.

14. How to Use Text Messaging to Increase Your Bottom Line

  • Get More People in the Door: Connect with customers in real time to share timely deals and promotions, especially since text has an average response time of 90 seconds.
  • Reduce Costs and Increase Revenue: Promote weekly specials on ingredients before they spoil in order to cut down food costs and increase the number of customers coming in.
  • Utilize Mobile Coupons for Steady Revenue: Personalized mobile coupons are redeemed 45% of the time, which means you are sure to see a spike in revenue.
  • Attract New Business: Utilize keywords and mobile coupons to attract new customers to visit instantly.
  • Establish Loyal Customer Base: Create a mobile customer loyalty campaign to drive up repeat business.
  • Improve Operational Efficiency: Produce automated messaging campaigns to schedule staff and reduce time spent on operational processes.

15. How Restaurants Can Use Trumpia’s Account Management Services

A surefire way of getting the result you want from your mobile marketing and messaging campaigns is by utilizing a complete SMS software that has an account management team to guide you through every step of the way. Trumpia’s account managers assist you through every step of the customer lifecycle and provide the most effective restaurant marketing ideas and strategies.

Here’s how:

  • Strategic Business Consultant: Helps identify and solve business challenges using the Trumpia solution. Creates goals and a detailed execution plan to solve your organization obstacles
  • Success Manager: Assists you in the execution of the plan developed by your Strategic Business Consultant
  • Technical Support Team: Teaches you how to use the platform in order to get the most out of your investment. 
  • Onboarding: An expert takes you through the interface and shows you how to use the tool.
  • Training: Provides online tutorial videos and one-on-one training sessions.
  • Consulting: Helps run your campaign and shows you how to maximize our system to achieve the best results.

Are you a restaurant looking to use SMS to get ahead in this competitive industry? Trumpia has worked with restaurants for over a decade in order to provide them with the best possible way to reach new customers and move ingredients out the door quickly. Click here to learn more!