Quick service restaurants (QSRs) are hugely-popular parts of the gastronomy industry. From household, global names, to smaller, more local food joints, how these businesses market themselves makes all the difference to the image that they portray to potential customers.
Marketing your QSR and knowing the best practices to do so can have numerous advantages for you as a business owner. First and foremost, the buzz you create will mean more people in your restaurant, leading to more income for you and more awareness and recognition of your brand. It’ll also give you the chance to push and promote special events or promotions with you steering the way.
A major advantage also comes from the insights you can gather by using marketing. The methods and ideas that are laid out below will give you a real understanding of the needs of your customers and from that you can better adapt your food, service, or whatever else it may be, to suit their desires. Ultimately, that means a higher rate of customer satisfaction, increased consumer loyalty and many benefits to you as a business.
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Timing is key, in numerous ways, when it comes to marketing your QSR. Make sure you plan deals, promotions and even potential opportunities well in advance.
A marketing calendar is a helpful tool to pull together to help you with the organisational side of things. And, it’s also a great way to share what you have coming up with the rest of your wider team to encourage creativity and ideas from your staff.
Your calendar should also flag up national days and holidays that could be great to incorporate in your campaigns. Maybe there is a day specially dedicated to the type of food your business makes. You could plan a deal, discount or event for that day to encourage new customers. You could maybe even create a special edition version of one of your bestselling items to mark the holiday you’re celebrating.
Of course, timing should also be a major influence on when you should roll out more traditional marketing campaigns too. Test different days and times to discover when your online advertising gets the best results in terms of the key metrics you’re looking out for, like engagement rate, for example.
Just like in any other industry, the way QSR customers consume and share information has changed. Instead of spending a long time reading through a restaurant’s website to find out information, people want to quickly (and remotely) get the answers to their queries.
That’s why having a strong social media presence is an absolute necessity. Social media gives a voice to not only you and your business, but also to your customers. They can give reviews and recommendations, share their experiences, ask questions and share advice.
It’s important to see your QSR social media accounts as a great way to market your business. You can highlight promotions, business news, show off your location and team members and run competitions. Sites like Instagram provide a platform for you to give your customers (and potential customers) a behind-the-scenes look at your QSR and engage with them. You can also use social media to gain insights into your clients. Do you get lots of engagement from a particular type of post or when a certain element is in the photograph or post? What are your top performing shares on each platform? And, which are your worst performing? Answering these questions will give you the knowledge to tailor your service and business to the needs and wants of your customers.
While crucial, having a social media presence for your QSR also comes with a level of responsibility and importantly in the online-era, accountability. Managing your online presence is an integral part of marketing your QSR.
Of course, it would be ideal if all of the interactions your customers had with your brand were positive, but complaints and less-than-perfect reviews are an unfortunate occurrence and can actually be seen as an opportunity. Make sure you are responsive to all kinds of feedback and questions across all of your social media platforms.
You should also check popular restaurant review sites and respond in a friendly and professional manner to anybody who has taken the time to share their thoughts. You should also ensure that your replies are personal and not just a copy-and-paste job and that your responses are open and public.
Check if there are themes across the reviews or posts. Are lots of people talking about a menu change or lengthy queues? If so, you can react to this and market your QSR as a business that really listens to customers.
Getting involved with your local area is a great way to advertise your QSR, regardless of its size. You can spread the word of your business to local clientele and also boost your brand’s image as a community focused company. How about supporting local businesses, that could be by using locally sourced produce in the food you make, showcasing the work of local artists and designers in your restaurants, or by more traditional sponsorship opportunities.
Another great way to connect with the local community is by holding events in your restaurants. Be as creative as you want to be and partner up with local charities and groups to champion a good cause, as well as spread the word about your QSR.
As part of your closer local community it’s a good idea to encourage your employees to share and promote your QSR themselves. People are a great advocate for a brand and a good workplace environment can have a huge effect on the environment for potential customers as well. Simple incentives for staff who share social media posts or take part in promotional activities can work really well. But, ultimately, it’s really important to create a work environment that’s positive and supportive so that your staff feel inclined to want to help out and are enthusiastic about the image of the QSR and promoting it.
Street food markets and pop up events are also great arenas to market your QSR and can attract large numbers of potential new customers. Make sure your restaurant’s stalls and setup are visually appealing and have testers available to encourage interaction with people passing by. These events really help to integrate your QSR into the local area, as well as give you the chance to collaborate with other small food businesses to combine your efforts.
Another great way to advertise your QSR is by encouraging customer loyalty through simple schemes like a rewards system. Rewarding your customers with their continued loyalty to your QSR is a really effective way to show them how appreciated they are, as well as increase the chances that they’ll keep visiting you time and time again. Why not offer a scheme where after a certain number of visits or purchases of a particular food item a customer receives a free treat or dessert. Or, encourage people to share on social media using a particular hashtag and reward the top ambassadors of your brand with discounts or freebies.
It’s also extra beneficial if you can track and promote this scheme through a sleek and innovative app. As previously mentioned in the social media section, it’s crucial that your QSR’s online information and advertising is mobile-friendly so that people can digest your content when they’re on the go.
Having geolocation features so that customers can find their nearest eat-in or takeaway location are bonuses that encourage in-the-moment decisions to visit your QSR.
Additionally, the option to order in advance on the app so that customers can beat the busy lunchtime queues is another attractive addition that can make you stand out from the competition. Essentially, any added extras you can offer customers to make their lives more convenient should be encouraged and utilised.
Following these simple and effective marketing strategies can help to take your QSR to the next level. Remember to make sure your business is mobile-friendly, you’re responsive to all sorts of feedback and you champion your customers, staff and local area.
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