Restaurant owners need to advertise, and when they do, they want to be able to track the success of an ad. One thing you restaurant owners hear all the time is, "Run a coupon in your ad so you can track it."
We're here to tell you to never run another coupon ever again... EVER.
Here's the short list:
If you run a coupon for your food, you're telling potential customers that your food is actually worth that much. The penny-pinching, coupon clippers will only come to you with a coupon, while the customers who would normally pay full price will tend to stay away if they think your food isn't good enough to sell at full price.
"I want them to come in and try the food, even if I have to get them in at half price to start. Once they taste it, they'll be back. Then they'll pay full price!"
NO THEY WON'T. You're not dealing cocaine - you're selling food. Food that you're pouring your heart, soul and life's savings into. Your food is worth full price (and if it isn't, you should re-think your pricing).
Coupons don't attract customers who will become regulars. Coupons attract customers who are called "Situational buyers." Situational buyers only buy when the situation is right, which is to say, they only come in when they have a coupon. You want what's called "Relational buyers."
Relational buyers are customers who come in because they have a relationship with you, your staff and your food. Relational buyers are Norm and Cliff from "Cheers." They come in all the time and pay full-price money (plus better tips) because they love you and your restaurant. They'll never use a coupon because they would see it as an insult to you and your restaurant.
When advertising to Foodies, remember that they don't care about coupons. They want to know where the best food is. They want to try new places. They want to tell their friends they found the best, new restaurant in town. They want to go back home and blog about how great your restaurant is. And we can pretty much guarantee that none of these Foodies will show up because of a coupon. Foodies will show up to your restaurant because you have something they want to try.
Maybe you're a new pizza place in town with a certain specialty. Maybe you're the first authentic Brazilian restaurant in town. Maybe you're an independent cafe with great coffee beans - something different than Starbucks for a change. Maybe you have the best, freshest seafood in town. Maybe you just hired a celebrity chef to take over.
Whatever your reason for being in business is, Foodies want to know about it. Coupon clippers couldn't care less about cuisine -they're focused strictly on price. They want food because they have to eat, not because they want to eat. Focus on the Foodies in your market and scrap the coupons altogether.
First of all, you need to run an ad for at least 6 months. We'd even recommend a full year to make sure it has time to work. Over the course of your ad's lifetime, track the average increases in sales each month. Then, simply subtract the amount you're spending on the ad. It's very simple; it's very crude, but it's the best way to track an ad. If you start tracking coupons, you're only tracking the coupon clippers and you'll be ignoring the regulars. If you track only the coupon clippers, you're eventually going to start chasing them down with more and more coupons.. all the while, you'll be completely neglecting your regulars - the ones who really make your restaurant a success.
Again, avoid sending out coupons at all costs. In the long-term, they're never worth it.