How to ask customers promote your restaurant during these difficult times

Customer engagement during COVID-19

In the COVID-19 crisis, many restaurants remain closed or are operating with limited services. Taking a proactive approach to marketing the services you’re offering now — and encouraging your customers to promote your local restaurant — can help you manage through this difficult time.

6 ways to promote your local restaurant services, with the help of your customers

To get the word out, you can do the following:

  1. Send a newsletter.
  2. Tell your followers on social media.
  3. Reach out to local Facebook groups.
  4. Encourage customers to leave reviews.
  5. Post a notice on your restaurant’s storefront.
  6. Update your website.

Let’s jump in.

1. Send a newsletter

Sending a newsletter is a great way to let subscribers know what you’re doing in the coronavirus pandemic. This might include how you’re doing your best to step up on safely preparing food, any changes to your business operation hours, take-out options and special menu offerings.

A newsletter also is a perfect place to encourage loyal followers to let their friends or family know that your restaurant is open for business.

You might even offer a coupon or discount to customers who send business your way.

2. Tell your followers on social media

Do you have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or another social network? Make the most of it to keep your customers updated. Let them know that you’re open and what services you’re offering.

When you post, encourage your followers to share the news. One way to encourage social sharing is to host a contest or incentive for promoting your local restaurant’s updates.

3. Reach out to local Facebook Groups

There are lots of groups on Facebook, and some of them are focused on local communities. Reach out to relevant Facebook Group administrators to see if they’ll allow you to post about your business.

4. Encourage customers to leave reviews

There’s never been a better time to ask your customers to leave reviews of your restaurant on sites like Google and Facebook. This could be as simple as adding a message to take-out or delivery receipts — something like, “Love our food? Please consider leaving us a review on Facebook. Let’s help each other get through this together!”

5. Post a notice on your restaurant’s storefront

Foot traffic might be limited, but you can keep those customers in the know by posting info about your restaurant on a sandwich board or in a visible window location.

You could even host a contest with a unique hashtag — something like, “Share a photo of our sign on Instagram for a chance to win a dining gift card!” — to encourage customers to promote your local restaurant.

6. Update your website

If you have a website for your restaurant, make sure to update your hours and the services you do offer. You might even want to create content to help provide tips to your customers on what they can do to flatten the curve or prevent the spread of COVID-19, or even food preparation tips.

This will build trust with your clients and let them know that you care about them during this time of crisis.

More ways to encourage happy customers to promote your local restaurant

Now that you’ve gotten the word out, what more can you do to incentivise your loyal patrons to promote your restaurant?

Offer daily specials or services that are unique to your restaurant

You can still offer daily or weekly specials, even if you’re attracting more delivery or takeaway business than sit-down diners. And if your restaurant is well known for a specific item that’s now available via carryout and delivery, promote that special service.

Offer a rewards program

During COVID-19, some of your customers might be getting a bit strapped for cash. Anything to help them out might mean that they choose your restaurant over someone else’s services. You can also use this to create customer loyalty.

What next?

Now that you have a few options for getting the word out about your local restaurant’s services during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s time to activate your community of loyal patrons.

Email them, update your website, update your Google business listing, and post regularly on social media. Other than posting about specials, you can be helpful or entertaining. Share related funny memes or even educate people on the history of a specific food dish.

There’s a lot that you can do to keep your customers engaged during these uncertain times — thus helping to ensure that they’ll stick with you now and long after this crisis passes.