Why restaurants struggle to attract ideal customers

I’m currently conducting 1:1 Strategy Sessions on restaurant marketing, and here’s a common scenario that often unfolds: a restaurant owner expresses their desire to attract a business audience. They mention trying various strategies, such as offering discounts on coffee and lunch, yet they still struggle to draw customers, especially in the evenings. They’re left wondering, “Why?”

We delve into understanding the current customer base. It turns out that nearby university students and employees from neighboring stores frequent the restaurant primarily for its affordable business lunches. And the passing business crowd doesn’t feel a connection with the existing patrons.

In essence, the “friend or foe” principle is at play here, and the restaurant appears foreign to the potential business audience.

Will these individuals visit the establishment in the evening to explore the full menu? The answer is unlikely, as they still view the restaurant as incompatible with their preferences.

Moving on to the second point, we examine various consumption situations. One of them is conducting negotiations with potential clients: a practice crucial for sales department employees in various companies.

What is the essential requirement for conducting negotiations in a restaurant? What is the one condition that must be met?

The answer is simple: silence.

However, in this particular restaurant, the music is often so loud that it leads to situations where a sales manager has to shout, “Let’s finalize the deal; I have all the necessary documents.”

To which the client responds, “Yes, I’ve already ordered a cappuccino.”

This loud atmosphere is well-received by the students, but it’s not conducive to business negotiations.

What conclusion can we make from these findings?

It is straightforward: understanding your audience is essential. You need to know who they are, why they choose your restaurant, what consumption situations they implement while there, and what steps you’ve taken to convey that your restaurant caters specifically to their needs.