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7+ Unique Ways to Improve & Increase Foot Traffic in a Restaurant

Increasing Restaurant Foot Traffic

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A restaurant with a steady flow of foot traffic is almost guaranteed to not go out of business. Though, is it as easy as everyone makes it out to be?

As experts who have been in the consulting industry for more than a decade, we feel like we have the expertise to give practical and actionable advice on this topic!

Increasing foot traffic takes time but there are a lot of low-hanging things that are very impactful that you can do right now without much effort. So, follow these unique ways to increase your restaurant’s foot traffic!

What is Foot Traffic in a Restaurant & Why is it Important?

Benefits of Restaurant Foot Traffic
Foot traffic is what restaurants should focus on!

In the restaurant industry, foot traffic is commonly referred to as the number of people walking into a restaurant either dining or taking outMany restaurants focus on foot traffic as their primary KPI because of how valuable they are. More foot traffic at any given period will mitigate fixed costs like rental and salaries.

One of the most apparent benefits of restaurant foot traffic is that the average spend per customer is higher than that of takeout or online delivery. This is mainly because there are more opportunities for restaurant staff to upsell.

Aside from that, customers who stay longer have a higher likelihood of ordering more food and drink – especially if they are in a group. These two factors play a significant factor as to why foot traffic is great for revenue.

Aside from revenue, a busy restaurant is also amazing for branding, especially for people passing by. If a restaurant is busy, the perception of people looking in will be a good one, and they’ll be more likely to visit that restaurant.

This also acts as social proof that a restaurant is good, as it’s human nature for people to trust and copy the actions of others! Social proof is also part of the reason why word-of-mouth marketing, comments, and reviews are incredibly important for restaurants!

Practical Ways to Increase Restaurant Foot Traffic

Improve Your Restaurant’s Exterior & Walk-In Process

Having a menu sign can help entice passerby!

If you’re looking for organic traffic, you can opt to improve your restaurant’s exterior. This doesn’t mean you have to shell out a lot of money to get a new sign or decorations.

The easiest thing you can realistically do is to use a menu sign. Studies have shown that having a simple sign outside your restaurant with clear menu items and descriptions improved sales by up to 30%.

This is great for attracting people walking around and can be a more powerful tool than most people imagine. Even if people already know what they want to eat, having attractive signage can help change their minds and entice people to walk in!

Besides the sign, another thing you can do is to have a menu that people walk by to check out and decide if they want to walk in or not. Pair this with an attentive server and you’ve got yourself a winning recipe!

The server’s job is to close the deal and drive the conversion – like promoting deals and talking about what the special of the day is.

Run Restaurant Gift Card or Voucher Campaigns (Especially Dining Vouchers)

Restaurant Voucher Sample
A sample of KlikNRoll's Voucher Management System!

Having gift cards or voucher campaigns can be great in not just increasing foot traffic but overall sales and revenue as well!

Here’s what we mean – by selling or giving away well-designed gift cards and vouchers, you can naturally drive foot traffic without trying too hard.

The key is to focus on group vouchers that will organically encourage people to bring more people into your restaurant. If you’re a family-friendly restaurant, you could do something like a “kids eat free” voucher; and if your main target audience is the corporate crowd, you can try out a corporate group discount type of voucher.

Plus, you’d typically get more revenue on average too, as studies have shown that 72% of gift card redeemers end up spending 38% more than the value of their gift cards!

Not to mention that gift card purchasers will usually give them out to their friends and family, which will in turn spread your restaurant’s name through word-of-mouth.

Many of these new customers will eventually turn into regulars – which will fill your restaurant up naturally as your brand and reputation grow!

Streamline the Reservation & Food Ordering Process

To attract foot traffic, what you can do is streamline the reservation process. The key is to minimize the amount of steps needed from initial impressions to conversions.

Many restaurants opt to leverage social media marketing like Facebook and Instagram ads but don’t take into account the journey or the process. Having a clear CTA that allows customers to take action quickly is what you’re looking for.

Reservation System for Restaurant Foot Traffic
You can customize every aspect of our booking platform!

If you take a look at our online booking system, your customers will be able to reserve their tables and even order their food right after you’ve piqued their interest.

That’s not all, you can also track relevant information using your custom link such as the platform they came from, conversion rate, best time of day for conversion, etc.

We’ve designed our platform to not only be user-friendly but take conversion rate optimization in mind. Once your visitors are in, our technology gives your restaurant the best chance to turn visitors into customers!

If you’re interested in seeing what we can do for you, click the button below to check out our product page to see many of our other features!

Promote & Optimize Your Restaurant’s Presence on Search Engines

Local Map Pack Sample for Restaurant SEO
More reviews usually mean better rankings!

By far one of the best ways to increase restaurant foot traffic is to optimize and promote your website & profile on search engines like Google.

The great thing about Google is that users from Google already have the intent to find a place to eat, which means it’s easier to get them through the doors of your restaurant.

The key to optimizing for search engines like Google is to be specific and target when it comes to your target keywords. So instead of ranking for queries like “restaurants in Dallas”, you should focus on longer-tailed, specific keywords like “Japanese restaurants in Dallas”.

The easiest way is to focus on cuisine since the user is already dead-set on eating a certain type of food, and now it’s just a matter of convincing them to go to your restaurant.

Although there’s going to be a lot less search volume, going for more specific keywords increases the chances of conversion by quite a lot and it’s also easier to rank for queries like these, especially if you’re a newer and/or smaller restaurant!

The easiest thing you can do that brings in the most impact is to optimize your Google Business Profile. Many restaurants can rank and gain conversions through this, even without having a website.

We’d highly recommend checking out our full guide to restaurant SEO that you can check out to develop a winning strategy for your restaurant business!

Leverage Outdoor Seating to Increase Foot Traffic (If Possible)

Outdoor seating leaves a positive impression!

Aside from having an improved exterior, you can also consider using outdoor seating to your advantage. Aside from your diners’ preferences, outdoor seating can play a huge role in attracting walk-in customers, especially during lunch hours.

The first reason is that having outdoor seating gives a ‘welcoming feeling’ to passersby, which could attract them and increase your restaurant’s foot traffic in the long run.

Elaborating on the previous point, people walking by can have a glimpse of the type of food your restaurant is serving – a big factor in piquing the interest of people passing by.

You might not experience a huge uptick in foot traffic immediately, but in the long run, the results can be fruitful!

Editor’s note: Please consult your local city council or authority to see if outdoor seating is permitted. Oftentimes, you’d have to register for the relevant papers and licenses – depending on where you’re located!

A Customer Loyalty Program or Email List Helps Restaurants

Customer loyalty programs can be a great way to improve foot traffic – if done right. Just like the voucher/gift cards campaign we talked about earlier, it has to be designed right.

If your main objective is to increase diners, try out an attendance-based loyalty program. It’s exactly what it sounds like – encouraging your members to visit and dine in at your restaurant more frequently.

The easiest way to do this would be to implement a stamp-based system whereby customers can get discounts and special perks, based on the amount of times they visit! The goal of this is to get your members used to coming to your restaurant and almost make it a part of their weekly routine!

If you’re not ready to invest in a loyalty program at the moment, you can accomplish similar goals by growing and reaching out to your email list.

Much like the members of a loyalty program, email list subscribers are on the ‘warmer’ side, which means they’ll be more open to converting and reading your marketing newsletter.

Growing your email list is not as intimidating or hard as many business owners believe. Here are some of the simplest yet effective ways to grow your email list:

  • Utilize a lead magnet campaign: The core of this campaign is straightforward – get your customers to sign up for your email list in exchange for freebies. Freebies should be enticing enough yet cost-effective; some examples include items like a side of wings, desserts, or even a free drink.
  • Have an opt-in option in your feedback form: If you’re already giving out feedback forms for every table. Why not include a part where customers can opt to fill in their email addresses? Make sure to let them know that they can get special discounts or offers to entice them!
  • Data from online reservations: If you’re already streamlining your customer journey through online reservations, you can choose to include an opt-in box to get your customers to join your email list. Since users already have the intention to dine in your restaurant, they’ll be more likely to sign on! KlikNRoll allows you to do much more like view all your data using our management platform!

By doing your email and loyalty program marketing right, you can entice customers to come into your restaurant more often, thus allowing you to drive traffic to your restaurant!

Collaborate With Nearby Businesses & Communities (Especially Corporate)

Corporate food voucher
Singapore's Old Chang Kee Corporate Vouchers!

Collaborating with your local community and business is a great way to attract more people to dine in. Especially during the holiday season, businesses and corporations will be giving out bonuses and/or gifts to retain and motivate their employees.

You can tap into this opportunity by collaborating with the human resources department of these companies. You can accomplish this using either gift cards or simply offering special perks if your customers work there. Remember the key focus we talked about in the previous point about vouchers?

If your goal is to increase dine-ins, design and plan your offers accordingly – revolving around groups.

The lowest-hanging method you can try is to simply implement a discount on orders above a certain amount for employees of companies. Eventually, many of these employees will turn into regulars and recommend your restaurant to their friends and families.

Contribute to Local Events and Work on Branding to Gain Customers

Contributing to local events like catering and sponsoring can help you build your restaurant’s reputation in the long run. It doesn’t just help you with customer loyalty and SEO (because you can get digital backlinks from event organizers) but also helps in overall branding.

During these events, you can go for lower-cost options like branded coffee cups, cutlery, and plates. If your food is on point, the next step is to associate your brand with the food.

You can also consider leaving name cards next to the food, so people will know where to find you if they’re keen to give your restaurant a visit.

Contributing to local events is an amazing way to attract locals and turn them into regulars, thus increasing foot traffic. Doing this also builds a moat for your restaurant, and it’ll be harder for newer restaurants or commercial chains to enter the market!

Plus, depending on events, you might even get news coverage in your area, which will further help you out in building your brand and increase traffic!

The Bottom Line - Conclusion

Foot traffic is massively important for any restaurant’s well-being. After reading this article, you should better understand how to increase the number of people visiting your restaurant!

If you’re interested in any of our solutions, like our online booking system or voucher management system, feel free to click the button below to contact us – no strings attached!


Last Updated by December 28, 2023
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