Connecting with your ideal diner is a way to ensure that your tables are always booked. What exactly does this mean?

First, know your ideal customer. It’s one thing to open a restaurant and wait for people to come through the door. It’s another to know exactly who you’re cooking for and what their preferences are. For example, if your restaurant is downtown, you’re going to attract more busy professionals than families. What do these “busy professionals” want, and what do they expect?

Take the time to create a diner avatar: a representation of the person you’d most love to cook for. Specifically, you need to know where they hang out when they’re not with you; how much they’re willing to spend for a great dining experience; what is most important to them; and how they like to access information.

Once you know your ideal diner, one way to connect with them is by using coupons.

Why coupons?

Coupons build awareness of your restaurant for first-time diners, especially those slightly outside of your geographic area - people will be more willing to travel a bit further if they are offered a discounted meal. They also help you build excitement among repeat diners, such as whenever you launch a new seasonal menu.

The key is using coupons strategically. Discounting food when faced with already tight profit margins can be costly but done right, coupons can generate enough traffic to offset these costs and build your ideal-diner base.

How to bring in your ideal diner using coupons

Understand the different types of coupons and decide which is best for your dining establishment and what your ideal customer will appreciate most.

  • Flat rate : these coupons give diners a flat rate discount, for example $5 off per diner with a $30 minimum per diner.
  • BOGO : buy one, get one free - this is a great promotion to run midweek to entice people to eat out on traditionally slow nights.
  • Bonuses : this is a great way to introduce new menu items. Package the new item with an entree your customers already love.
  • Percentage-based discounts, for example 15% off, are perfect for more affordable restaurants. Since people are more focused on the discount percentage, their perception is that they are saving a lot of money, when 15% off a $10 entree is not really that much of a discount.