Personal selling requires personal interaction with potential customers to create interest in your restaurant. Since “potential customers” include current customers that may become repeat visitors, personal selling can happen inside as well as outside of the restaurant.
Try some of the following tactics:
Ask the chamber of commerce or the convention center for a list of contact information for organizations, such as service organizations, unions, political organizations, etc. Call them and tell them about your restaurant. Offer to cater or host their meetings and parties at a good discount.
Try to be on good terms with people who come in contact with tourists or big groups. Examples are hotel staff, concierge services, event coordinators at hotels or convention centers, tour guides, gas station attendants, car rental employees, etc.
Any employee at your restaurant can get involved with personal selling. Train your servers and chefs to engage in personal selling outside of the restaurant. Provide them with business cards or promotional materials, which they can distribute to prospective customers. This will help boost sales, and it will also increase your employees’ enthusiasm.
You can speak personally with the human resources (HR) managers or appropriate personnel at any nearby companies or factories to see if they are interested in setting up a business luncheon at your restaurant or having you cater a meeting or event.
You can do this both inside and outside of the restaurant. After customers finish their meal, it is never a bad idea for the manager to speak with them, thanking them and asking if they were satisfied with everything. You can also follow up on customer service issues. For example, if customers fill out a comment card and leave negative comments, you could call them to apologize for their negative experience and offer to make up for it next time by fixing the problem and giving them a discount.
Personally attend local arts or culinary festivals where you can vend or hand out samples. Talk to the event goers and tell them why they should try your restaurant. Even if you do not create any immediate sales, you will create awareness and get your restaurant’s name out there.
Whenever you are talking to a prospective customer, show excitement about what you have to offer, but be easy-going. If they are not very receptive of your pitch, do not irritate them further.
Any time you are in public, you should represent your business with your image. One way to do this is to use good body language. Make eye contact, smile and do not cross your arms. If you are talking to someone on the phone, smile while you are doing it, because the smile will come through in your voice.
The more activities you are personally involved with, the more people you will meet. Almost every person you meet is a new potential customer. You do not need to turn your whole social life into a sales pitch, but you can make a point of good-naturedly mentioning your restaurant to friends and new acquaintances.
People are more receptive to promotional materials that come directly from a person. Instead of putting flyers and posters on cars or stuffing them in mailboxes, try handing them out in person. As you or your employees hand out pamphlets and coupons, they can make a good impression by using good body language and friendly sales techniques.