How to Use Group Coupons
The draw of coupons in the restaurant business leads many operators to become part of a group coupon enterprise. These discount options make sense in many cases, especially in an independent restaurant. There are always more ways to put fannies in the seats, and aggressive operators are usually looking for ways to get people in the door the first time. A coupon in hand gives potential clients a reason to enter the building while getting people talking about your business.
However, there’s a real danger associated with coupons. They’re a slippery slope in most cases. Few operators only issue one or two coupons at a time, preferring instead to issue many coupons at once. Having a flood of coupons circulating at one time can quickly build an unwanted reputation for the business as a discount restaurant, which leaves many guests waiting for the next special offer before they’ll consider coming through the door.
It’s worthwhile to wait for the right coupon opportunity before diving into the discount business. Fortunately, this is often right in the restaurant’s backyard. Locally-oriented, social media-driven group coupons are a great way to build a name for the business while helping out a good cause. Here are a few great examples of how to drive business through a group discount strategy.
In many communities, there are local school groups and charities that collect partnerships with businesses willing to provide discounts to customers. Local citizens buy something like a card or book filled with discounts from the local group, who benefits from the proceeds. They can then use the group coupon to earn discounts on lunch or dinner, or even receive a free giveaway like an appetizer or dessert.
This is usually a good opportunity for the independent business to gain cheap advertising while helping a local good cause. In most cases, corporate chains cannot participate in local group discounting ventures. Independents should have an advantage when it comes to becoming part of the fabric of the community. It shouldn’t take much beyond great food and service, and a few locally embedded charitable donations.
Local School Partnerships
In small- to medium-sized communities, a partnership with a local school can be a great, inexpensive way to build local clientele. Most independent restaurant operators consider advertising to be too expensive or not applicable to a small business. Partnerships with local schools offer a great opportunity, especially in areas where the schools are a focal point of community activity.
A local partnership is often easy to start, perhaps through sponsorships of athletic events or support for academic fundraisers. It does not take long for a business to provide support for multiple events before thousands of parents and family members grow aware of the restaurant’s name. This is usually a win/win scenario that the operator can often pay for through discounts or even restaurant credit, limiting out-of-pocket expenses for valuable word-of-mouth advertising.
Any group discount that is not tied to a local donation should offer some other type of advantage. The best advantage that most group coupons can offer is through social media blasts. This is a great asset, especially when the discount is something specific like a free appetizer or a special Happy Hour offer.
Facebook and Twitter blasts that promote the business often provide a great asset for the independent restaurant owner. Customers looking for good deal from their favorite businesses have an incentive to sign up with local marketing companies providing great offers from many different businesses. This is usually a low-cost advertising service with discount tie-ins that get users checking their phones and laptops for great deals. Unlike with most traditional forms of advertising, the impact of group coupons through social media should be felt pretty quickly.
No disrespect intended toward Groupon and other national discount platforms, but finding a local tie-in for group discounting is usually the best strategy for independent restaurants. Restaurants are a little different than most businesses in this way. They benefit when they are embedded in the local community. A group discount model provides a great opportunity to build this connection in the minds of the surrounding community. This is a great strategy for start-ups and small restaurants looking for a competitive advantage.