How to identify the audience you want dining at your restaurant
Your target customers are those that you want to attract to your restaurant. They are the guests that you design your entire marketing strategy around to ensure success in your business. We have published several blog posts highlighting our tips on how to attract people to your restaurant’s website and various promotional tactics for readers to consider to get more people in the door, but how do you identify the audience you want dining at your restaurant?
What we have stressed in many of our posts is the importance of doing your research. If only John Taffer can swoop in and save the day like on an episode of Bar Rescue and tell you exactly what concept would attract the right clientele for the property. Unfortunately, the real world is not like a Food Network television show, but conducting research is very important before moving forward with any other plans for your establishment. Below are some tips on how to define your restaurant’s target customers.
If you are opening an eatery, it is likely that you didn’t decide to do this overnight. You have probably been thinking and dreaming about your ideal establishment for years and have a clear image of the design and overall approach in your mind. Keep that concept in mind when targeting your audience and in turn you can effectively select a location and theme to attract that specific group. If you’ve been envisioning opening a college bar for students to kick back and de-stress after finals, you can narrow down a general location by staying in close proximity to a college or university, serving affordable meals and drink specials. Paying attention to the area demographic will help you decide if the neighborhood is the right fit for the business you want to launch. Research the local community and look for things such as if it is more residential or business oriented, the main mode of transportation people use to get around, and if it is a largely populated city or more remote. For instance, if the building you had your eye on to open a high-end steakhouse is surrounded by mostly blue collar working family households, it may not be the best spot to for your business to thrive.
We touched on this when we discussed why a restaurant’s location matters in a previous blog post. We suggested checking out the competition to see where the need is in the district before opening the town’s eighth Chinese food spot. While you may have a different angle with your concept, it can be helpful to visit your competition to make note of what is working and what clearly is not. If you’re noticing that there are more retirees moving to the city, tailoring your concept to attract an older demographic may be in your best interest. According to SmallBusiness, young families or mature adults on fixed incomes may visit one type of restaurant, while upwardly mobile single professionals will be attracted to another.
Research Existing Customers
Once you choose your targeting demographic, it does not mean ‘til death do you part. You can adjust later down the road depending on what the demand has become. This might require doing a little digging into what your current customers’ needs are. Pay attention to who is coming into your restaurant, what they are ordering and at what time they are arriving. If a younger crowd is rolling in for lunch later and later on the weekends, introducing extended brunch hours to cater to those guests could be an option. Your restaurant’s physical residence affects not only who you’re serving to but also how you prepare your staff for specific meals and times of day.
Identifying your customer base is pretty simple, especially when you choose a region that you are familiar with. Get to know the potential new home for your business, see what kind of events the town hosts or if residents are very involved in school activities. The more you know, the more of an educated decision you can make on where to settle your restaurant. Keep in mind that your regular crowd are those right in your backyard.
About the Author: Courtney Ciandella has been the sole Marketing liason for Bielat Santore & Company since 2013. She is also the conductor behind the Who’s Who in the Restaurant Industry and Restaurant Tip of the Month series.