In our business, we meet a lot of restaurant owners. Loads, in fact. We talk about what’s working, what’s not working, what they would like to improve and how they might go about doing it. Almost everyone is dying to improve customer footfall at lunchtime, and an alarming majority of them have, until meeting us, dismissed the idea that social media has a big role to play in doing just that.

There is this notion that the lunchtime diner is a sort of mythical being who cannot be reached or influenced in the same way as the evening diner who, almost human, is a much easier creature to understand.

It’s true that certain factors are important to lunchtime trade which may be less important in the evening: there may be more competition for lunch, people might be looking for a deal or special offer or, crucially, people may have much less time to eat – convenience definitely plays a greater role.

Two key factors remain the same at both lunch and in the evening, however: your diners are people, and people use social media. In fact, your average customer, or potential customer, spends an hour and 40 minutes every day on social media, and are most active on social media between 11am and 5pm. What time does your lunch service start?

Social media is a great place to engage with your existing customers as well. Several studies have shown that the cost of acquiring a new customer is at least 5 times the cost of retaining an existing customer, some put the figure at 6 or 7 times the cost. Whichever figure is right, it clearly pays to keep your existing customers coming back and, unless they’re in the restaurant right now, what better way to engage with them than on social media?

Remember that social media is about community. It is also an excellent place for any business to build loyalty, and a loyal community of customers is something every restaurant wants.

If you want specifics, drop us a line and ask, we’re always happy to share. The point of this post, though, is: if you want to improve lunchtime trade, don’t ignore social media. Restaurant owners who engage with social media have a chance to drive lunchtime trade in a big way. In these difficult times, I’m afraid to say that the rest may have a difficult road ahead of them.

sam.rogers@rampartpr.com