With so many restaurants and cafes out there for you to compete with, you need to do everything you can to ensure your patrons remember their time with you fondly, and return for another visit. Ken Burgin reports.

Unless you're a major industry icon, or you’ve been around for 20 years, most people don't remember your business name. There are just too many other places popping up all the time. But there’s a lot you can do to make your name noticeable and remembered.

True story: two people in a caf, one on the phone. She looks at her friend and asks 'what's the name of this place?'…and the friend doesn't know. Worse, there was nothing inside the caf to tell them – no signs on the wall, nothing on the table or staff uniforms. Future business lost, for sure.

So before you go spending big bucks on expensive promotions, check that you've covered all the small, personal promotional items within your four walls, and have a regular reminder program happening on social media. You could double your business if everyone came back more than once.

Increase the number of times your business name is seen and mentioned by ensuring:

  1. The name is on awnings and the front window –  if it's only on the awning people walking or driving by may not see it.
  2. The business name is on the wall or menu – make it stylish and part of the decoration.
  3. Put the name on your company vehicles – include the website so it's easy to find later.
  4. The name and contact details should be on the docket a customer takes away.
  5. Have business cards for people to keep. Makes sure they’re handed out with every account.
  6. Offer souvenir menus at the counter, even if it's just a sample.
  7. Put the business name on staff uniforms – it’s just as important as the staff member’s name.
  8. Add the business name to menu items eg at Caf Troppo we had the 'Troppo Burger' and 'Troppo Trifle' – distinctive and memorable. Now I’d add a Troppo cocktail as well.
  9. Have a prominent website address – and print it as big as every other mention of your name. If it's not logical eg hgc.com instead of HillsideGolfClub.com, fix this – register the easier name as well, and have them both directing to the same site. If you spell the web name with some capitals (like this example), it's easier to remember and won't affect search behaviour.
  10. Put real faces on the website gallery –  happy staff and happy customers, plus business owners and managers with short biographical details.
  11. Keep a low cost ‘drip feed’ Facebook awareness ad running, targeted to your local area and visible to the customers you want. Set a budget of say $3 per day – it keeps your name in front of current and future fans.
  12. Have an auto-response for inquiry emails. It automatically bounces back with something like: 'Thanks for your inquiry – we will be in touch shortly. Don't forget all our menus are online at wvw.ourwebsite.com' etc
  13. Do some basic Search Engine Optimisation on your website so when people Google for ‘pizza in Redcliff’, you’re on the top of the list.  This needs to work on a big screen and on a mobile. You need to put some effort (and dollars) into making this happen – no more ugly, ineffective websites in 2016!

And let’s not overlook the basics, which tie positive emotions to your name:

  • Efficient, friendly and attentive service: you only employ happy Harry or Hannah. Nasty Nancy and grim Gary get the flick. People often tell their friends that ‘they have lovely staff’.
  • A personal acknowledgement: 'Thank you Mr Burgin' – when my credit card is brought back to me, or when my account details are present, for example at the till. If Qantas can do it loading 200 people on a plane, so can you.

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