SMS marketing in action: How texts cooked up a storm for Vari

3rd Sep 2013

If you run your own restaurant, chances are, you’ve tried all sorts of ways to fill empty tables with happy customers. If someone said you could take reservations for 90% of your 100 seat restaurant in two hours with a simple SMS message you probably wouldn’t believe them. But Kunwar Sood from North Indian restaurant and bar Vari has achieved this - and he has subsequently made SMS an integral marketing tool for his business. 

If you’re in the hospitality trade you probably work long, unsociable hours and barely have enough time to sit down; let alone come up with new ideas to market yourself. Putting together a marketing campaign may be the last thing on your mind, which is why SMS could be the perfect solution.

At just 4p a message, putting together an SMS campaign is extremely cost-effective. You only pay for the messages sent and unlike costly flyers and adverts; it takes just a few minutes to send out a message to your entire database. If the only chance you get to look at your marketing is after a long nights service, don’t worry, you can schedule the message to go out at a more appropriate time.

But most importantly, of course, SMS enables you to communicate with your customers direct to their pockets 24/7. And it was for these reasons that Kunwar decided to roll out an SMS campaign. 

Vari is a popular restaurant and bar in Newington, Kent and while owner Kunwar understood the importance of marketing in order to grow his client base, running a restaurant kept him very busy. He says: “I was looking for a platform which would enable me to send a simple message to my customers instantly -SMS was the perfect solution.”

Kunwar wanted to get a message out to all of the subscribers in his customer database in an instant, with the aim of getting a quick response and to increase bookings for that weekend. He put together a simple communication containing all relevant information, the offer, price, contact details and a website link to enhance the content.

The message read: “Father’s Day lunch on Sunday, 6 courses £20 per person. Under 10s Half Price. Call to book, 01795 842540 visit Text STOP to 82228”

The message was sent out to 2,505 contacts at 11:20am on the Thursday before Father’s Day.

By 1:30pm, 90 of the 100 seats in his restaurant were reserved.

Kunwar was also sensitive to the importance of giving customers the chance to opt-out of his marketing - something that was also appealing about SMS, as contacts can be unsubscribed with a simple message making it easy for both business and customer to opt-out.

Despite this, however, retention rate was very high, with just 9 of the 2,505 that the message went out to opting-out of future offers. 

This is just one example of the use of how SMS can be used to boost sales and enhance customer experience. There are others that Vari could capitalise on. For instance:

Fill empty tables

Although you may have a busy restaurant a lot of the time, everyone has quiet days. Perhaps it’s a Monday night in the middle of winter, there’s not many people wandering around looking for places to eat. You need to give them a reason to come out:

"Hello Hannah! Free bottle of wine for every table of two this week at Vari, call 01795 842540 to book a table.”

Grow opt-in list

Advertise your keyword on menus, posters and bathroom mirrors (the list is endless) to allow customers to opt-in to your mailing list, providing you with lots of new contacts and letting your customers do the hard work:

Text RESTAURANT to 82228 for news, promotions and updates.”

Reward regular customers

Try sending a reward message to previous customers to thank them for their custom and entice them back to your establishment. This will not only increase bookings but will also please customers; encouraging positive reviews spreading through word of mouth.

Hi Hannah, we hope you enjoyed your visit to Vari, we’d love to see you again soon. Enjoy free starters on your next visit when showing this text. Call 01795 842540 to book a table”

Take/confirm bookings

Lots of restaurants now take bookings online, giving the customer more flexibility to book a table at their convenience. Why not take it one step further and let them text their reservation in? What could be more convenient than sending a quick text – you can even set up an auto reply to get straight back to them.

"Thank you for your reservation, we look forward to seeing you at Vari.”

Holly Barber is marketing manager at Fire Text

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