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How Not to Lose Customers During Construction Season

Construction ramps up in the summer months. The warm weather makes it easier to replace storefronts and exterior walls than the winter, and many restaurateurs invest in conversions and extensions. Major construction work is a hassle for diners: loud noise from building work makes them want to eat somewhere else. Here's how not to lose customers during construction season.

Collect Customer Information

It's a good idea to collect customer information before construction season starts. This way, you can communicate with diners during different stages of your construction project. Names, email address, phone numbers -- these are the most important details to collect from customers. You can enter all of this information in your restaurant management system and automate communications with diners.

Research shows that customer data is crucial for restaurants at every price point. It helps you improve customer service and increase engagement, for example.

Maximize Your Digital Marketing

Noise nuisances from loud building work could result in a sharp drop in footfall -- the number of diners who enter your restaurant. To counteract this problem, step up your online marketing and let customers know you are still open for business. You can do this via social media -- a great place to reach a large number of customers at the same time. You could even attract some new diners: social media is the second most popular way people find out about restaurants.

Another way to increase diners during construction season is to introduce a promotion -- 10 percent off the price of a meal or a free dessert, perhaps. Diners love discounts: 90 percent of people have looked for a restaurant deal at least once.

Other digital marketing initiatives that boost footfall include email marketing and search engine optimization. Paid ads are also valuable. These attract search engine users to your website and increase the visibility of your restaurant on websites like Google. This way, you can entice more customers to your dining space.

Offer Takeout and Delivery Services

If your restaurant is undergoing extensive construction work and is completely out of bounds, you can invest in other services until you are open to the public again. Offering takeout and delivery options is a surefire way to maintain your business presence and generate a steady stream of income. Instead of visiting your restaurant, customers can order food from your website and have it delivered to their door.

Food delivery helps you turn restaurant downtime into a lucrative sales opportunity. Consumers spent $30 billion on takeout and delivery services in 2015, with $4 billion generated from online delivery sales alone. Moreover, research suggests that 20 percent of adults use food delivery services at least once a week.

"Modern living often leaves little time for cooking at home, especially during the week," says the National Restaurant Association (NRA), the world's largest foodservice trade association. "Restaurant and delivery takeout services offer a welcome alternative to working people and parents who want to relax at home but are hard pressed to make their own meals." The NRA also says that 46 percent of American adults -- and 61 percent of millennials -- think that takeout is an important factor when choosing a table service restaurant.

Use Signs and Banners to Attract Customers

Construction pipes, ladders and building materials are an eyesore and could prevent passers-by from entering your restaurant. To boost footfall, use signs and banners that advertise your business. You can place one of these signs on the side of your building so everybody knows you are still open.

Research shows that signage provides you with a significant return on your investment. Seventy-six percent of consumers say they have entered a business they have never visited before because of its banners and signs, for example. Moreover, 75 percent of people have told others about a business because of its signage.

A small banner can get your message across in a sentence or two. "Please excuse our appearance while we're under construction" and "Yes, we are still open for business" are two great examples of messages you can use on your sign.

Keep Access to Your Restaurant Clear

Keeping access to your restaurant clear is paramount if you want to attract diners. If building work prohibits customers from entering your establishment, they might visit your rivals instead. Talk to construction staff working at your restaurant and explain why it's important for customers to enter and exit your property.

If the city council is repairing the road outside your restaurant, you can always attend a Chamber of Commerce meeting to find out how long the project will take. You can even raise concerns if you believe the construction will negatively impact your business. You can also find out about forthcoming building projects in your area on your local government website.

Investing in a restaurant revamp this summer? The tips on this list will help you maximize revenue and reverse a sales slump. Investing in digital marketing, using signs and banners, offering takeout and delivery services and keeping access to your restaurant clear can help you attract customers throughout the entire construction season.

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