Whether your restaurant is in a strip mall, a free-standing location, or in a plaza, the sight of construction is often more than enough to keep prospective patrons driving on by. Depending on the extent of the construction, those ugly scaffolds and construction materials may be right outside your front door for weeks or months. Rather than sit back and hope that your regulars can support your business until the work is completed and cleaned up, it’s best to develop a plan as soon as you get word that construction is planned in the future.
Run a Contest
One of the best ways to attract guests into your restaurant is to offer a chance to leave with something more than a full belly. Many restaurants already have regular trivia nights, so take it to the next level by adding a theme, such a Star Wars trivia, or a local sports team-related trivia, and promote the event on social media. Another great way to get your restaurant in front of new eyes during a time of construction is to hold an Instagram photo contest, where customers are asked to post photos of their favorite dishes, and the winner receives a voucher for a discounted or free meal.
Reach Out to Neighbors
When construction affects an area, it affects all of the businesses, not just restaurants. Consider dropping by another business nearby and coming up with a cross-promotional deal to attract customers to visit both of your locations, despite them being in a construction zone. Something where patrons who purchase an item at a clothing store receive a percentage off their bill at your establishment is a great way to keep the customer in the mall or area longer.
Offer Limited-time Discounts
Take a page from other hospitality industries, such as hotels, and offer a significant discount on certain items while the construction takes place. Plan out these discounts or promotions in two stages so the patron has more incentive to return twice during the slow construction work. For example, customers who dine-in during a set week may receive 10% off their check, but also receive a coupon for a free appetizer or drink upon their next visit. Be sure to set the coupon to expire right when construction is completed.
Ramp up Delivery
In some instances, construction may make it very difficult to get to your restaurant for patrons, and they’ll avoid the area until the work is complete. To make sure you are still able to serve these customers, create a custom delivery menu, or add special items to an already existing one, to entice orders. If you don’t have the ability to deliver, or are understaffed, there are many great 3rd party food delivery services that would be more than willing to take on the job.