Restauranteurs always strive for more. Better menus; tighter cost control; the next best piece of restaurant tech – and not to forget the all-important growing list of return customers.

Despite the limitations set by your restaurant’s capacity, you should never quell the urge to attract as many diners as possible. However, the best menu in the world won’t necessarily bring them flocking to your door.

Modern restaurant businesses need to get a little more creative with their promotional tactics if they’re to raise cover numbers and keep people coming back time and again.

Wish them all a happy birthday

If you’re using a great restaurant booking system, you should be able to capture some very useful data about your diners.

Alongside the obvious stuff, make sure you include a field within your online restaurant booking system for their birthday. It’s a time honoured tradition, but the practice of sending birthday emails to past diners is a great way to get them coming back for more.

The trick is to send your best wishes alongside a special offer. Personalise the email with their name and base the offer on their previous dining habits – don’t resort to mass mailing tactics. If, for example, they ordered the rump steak last time, why not offer them a 10% discount on sirloin?

Alternatively, a free starter or drink at the bar might just be enough to tempt past guests to dine with you on their big day.

Host a cookery class

The explosion in popularity of food-based TV shows like Master Chef and The Great British Bake Off has created a nation of would-be chefs.

People love getting their hands dirty in the kitchen and trying their hand at making dishes devised by their favourite TV chefs. So, why not offer a similar experience in your restaurant by holding a cooking class? It’ll be a chance for your own chef to hog a piece of the limelight and word will quickly spread that you’re not ‘just another’ restaurant.

Get involved in big local events

No matter where you restaurant is situated, there will be some form of regular, annual event that takes place nearby. Even if you’re situated in a sleepy hamlet, the nearest town might host a big music festival, and if that’s the case, it pays to embrace such events.

Theme your menu around the event in question or hold your own, alternate version and advertise it judiciously on social media.

Equally, the big calendar events such as Valentine’s Day, New Years Eve and Christmas should still be taken advantage of. Just try and offer something a little different (a winter Christmas BBQ, for example) in order to make a name for yourself during those significant dates.

Use short-run, targeted fliers

If you’ve pedalled the same promotional flier for the last three years, you’re missing a trick. Instead, use short runs of highly targeted ‘smart’ fliers, that refer to limited time offers or the aforementioned events you’re taking advantage of.

There’s no escaping the fact that the collective attention span of the general public has dipped somewhat, thanks to the fast-paced digital world we now find ourselves in, therefore recycled fliers will do nothing more than eat into your budget whenever you get them reprinted.

It’s also important to combine traditional, paper-based fliers with those of the online variety, so whenever you get a run printed, make sure you use the same artwork on platforms like Twitter and Facebook in order to further the reach of the offer.

Wrapping up

The tips above should help you increase visitor numbers in your restaurant, but remember that’s only half the battle. Once they cross the threshold, you’ll need to continue focusing on great customer service and excellent food. Get that right, and you’ll be sure to build an eating establishment that continually grows its customer base.

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