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Maximizing Free Restaurant Marketing: Are You Making The Most Of It?

QR code
QR codes work. They offer immediate access to your restaurant at the touch of.a finger.

Did you already scan the QR code in the picture? Do you know what QR codes are capable of?

Are you one of those restaurant owners that said delivery was not for you? That fees were too high?

And then Covid. Now, post Covid. Are you still saying any of those things? If you are, you might as well stop reading now.

If you understand the value proposition that delivery services like UberEats, and Door Dash afford you, then please read on.

As a former restaurant owner I like to remind other owners of the value these delivery services offer, beyond the obvious.

Of course you realize the convenience you're offering the consumer, but did you know that McDonalds is advertising for you as well? Did you know Starbucks, Burger King, Olive Garden, and most every multimillion - or multibillion dollar brand is advertising for you also?

How so? Follow me. A customer comes to UberEats, GrubHub, or Door Dash looking for something to eat from McDonalds. The customer pokes around a little and finds other restaurants they've never heard of and you happen to be that one they decide to take a chance on. It happens thousands of times a day. If I'm out delivering, I see it on a regular basis.

I talk to customers at their doors everyday! I ask if the restaurant is any good. I notice new restaurants and note the uptick in customers. I get recommendations all the time and I pass those referrals to other customers. It's part of servicing the customer that you don't see or think about.

This too, is advertising that you're getting. Now multiply this one order and the behavior that goes into it times how many chain restaurants and their advertising dollars as well as the ad dollars from Uber and the other gigs and you start to really get a picture of the enormous benefit you really are getting.

But there's more...

You know what? Most of you aren't taking advantage of your opportunities. Yeah, you're using the services of the delivery companies, but if you aren't taking next steps then you're wasting opportunities to grow sales further.

I always ask for at least a plastic bag to put food and drink caddies in to hang on doors and help to retain heat. I'm not kidding with what I'm about to say here... Some restaurants argue with me. Shame on them!

The narrow thinking of these owners or managers is imperceptible to me. It's usually the same ones who don't have a drink caddy for multiple beverages. The packaging is your face! It tells the customer you care about your product. It tells them a lot about you.

Bambinellis restaurant has been a staple in Tucker, Georgia for decades. Their food is delicious and they have a great in-store experience. They GREW during Covid despite the passing of their founder, while other restaurants shrunk or closed. Why? Well, the product is good. Their people are good. They saw the opportunity the delivery services were offering and saw the convergence of technology and took advantage of both.

Want more of the story? Simply scan the QR code in the photo above. See what I did there? I didn't have to type out a long wwwhttp:/ address, I just told you to scan the code!

IHOP food
IHOP logo safety seal tape along with logo printed plastic bags.

Product security (safety seals) is a great way to promote your brand as IHOP does here.

By maximizing free restaurant marketing opportunities (the product has to be packaged to go to the customer) such as logos on security seals you're telling the customer that you not only care, but you're adding BRAND to that conveyance. Two birds, one stone.

Go a step further and take a page out of Apples playbook and consider your packaging. Sturdier bags with logos, a QR code, and website name on them. Utilize colors on packaging as well.

Food sits at the customers door in a dorm or apartment hallway. Advertise to the occupants of the building. That bag is going to be sitting at a receptionist desk at a busy office during lunch and then taken back into the office to consume the contents.

If you don't think that is a marketing opportunity, I can't help you. Add that to the free great smells of your food and you snag a new customer or an office catering gig.

The rub, is that the customer has to know who you are and how to find you. And if all they have to do today is to whip out that phone and scan that bag of deliciousness, then why not? You don't get any face time with the customer, this is your opportunity.

Do you take the opportunity to drop a paper menu or just a card with a QR code and website address in the bag that you're already sending out? Want all the money off the next order? Did you take the time to make print coupons for carry out only via phone or your website, or a QR code pointing to your website for a pickup special?

Not to mention that bag sitting in the trash? It's still advertising for you. There's a reason big companies are big. Branding. Through the use of scanning technology and the internet you can build your brand with some careful thought and planning. Everything matters.

get a business QR code
Everybody's doing it so why can't you?

What is your marketing strategy? Are you still using the Val-Pak model? Is a 1-2% return model doing it for you? Do you really think in an increasingly paperless society that customers are taking paper menus with them or do you think they're bookmarking things in those little devices they keep staring at all day, you know...that thing they call a phone?

As they say, nothing is free. That percentage you're paying to the delivery companies seems steep but when you consider what you get in the way of marketing, on demand labor, no increase in insurance, payroll taxes, or workmans comp, you're saving money. Invest a small portion back into building your sales. Utilize a few cost effective tools being offered out there.

And remember your packaging is your face. Make sure you have all your teeth!


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