Have you ever tracked hold time at your restaurant? If not, then here’s some food for thought: According to the Restaurant Journal, the average restaurant receives over 200 calls per day, and even more than that if your food establishment offers take-out, delivery or requires a reservation, couple that with peak dining hours and you’re sure to have a lot of on hold time.
Wait times not only affect customer frustration and abandonment but also how much customers are willing to spend. A study by Gad Allon of the Kellogg School of Management discovered that in the food industry, each extra second of wait time reduces the amount that customers are prepared to pay.
Many times when you call a restaurant for take-out you experience lengthy hold time before they take your order, or a lot of the time the phone is answered by the hostess assuming the call will be for reservations, and at most restaurants, take-out is usually handled by the bar or by a particular person, so there’s added hold time while your call is the transfer to someone who can help you.
Whether we’re staring at our watches in a checkout line or tapping our fingers on hold, the time we spend waiting for service at a restaurant diminishes our customer experience. Long wait and hold times also mean lost sales, and bigger service issues. The good news for restaurant owners or managers, is that on hold messaging at your restaurant can help reduce perceived wait times, increase sales and lower call abandonment (callers who hang-up and call a competitor).
Here’s 7 ways restaurant on hold messages can serve up great results:
1. Impulse Buys
Let’s say for example, you own or manage a pizza parlor. A customer calls at the dinner hour, and you place them on hold while you take another order. While they’re holding, they hear about the cheese bread special for $1.99 with any order. They weren’t thinking about cheese bread when they called, but it’s beginning to sound good. When you come back on the line, you take an order for pizza-and an order for cheese bread. Now you may be thinking it’s only a $1.99 up-sell, but the numbers will make your mouth-water! If you’re establishment is open 7 days per week, and receives 200 calls per day, and even if you only up-sell half of your callers, that adds up to a whopping extra $72,436.00 per year on that $1.99 up-sell opportunity.
2. Reduce Hold Times By Providing Basic Information
A caller needs directions to your restaurant. The staffer who answered is right in the middle of a complicated order, so the call is placed on hold while he or she gets some help. While on hold, your caller hears that you’re ‘right near the shopping, which is all he/she needed anyway. They get the information they need, hang up, and your staffer has one less blinking light to handle. This is about the only time a caller hang-up isn’t a bad thing.
3. Shape Perceptions
There’s nothing worse than calling a restaurant that claims to create an unforgettable experience and being placed on hold in silence-one wonders if they’ve been hung up on. Or worse yet, they begin to form a negative opinion about the restaurant because it appears you didn’t think through every aspect of your relationship with them-in person, on the phone, and on hold. Too many restaurants miss opportunities to shape how their customers feel about them-all because they neglected their callers’ on-hold experience.
4. Featured Menu Items/Specials
Your hold message is a great way to promote featured menu items or daily specials to wet caller’s appetites. But with the growing number of vegans, over 16 million in fact, and the growing number of consumers who are gluten-intolerant, your hold message can also educate callers about those menu items you offer that accommodate their needs.
5. Promote Catering
Lots of restaurants offer catering, but many patrons never realize you offer catering or think of you when it comes time to catering their party. Remember, catering out of your restaurant(s) is a different business than your in-store operation and not just an “add-on” service. Stop missing out on a tremendous opportunity to market to you’re built-in supply of catering prospects who already dine at your establishment. Your on hold message can remind patrons about your catering services. Callers who wait on hold can here information like: Looking to have your next get-together catered? Our catering menu is filled with a wide variety of dishes to please everyone on your guest list. Ask about our catering services when we return to your call.
6. Private Party’s/Banquets
Many restaurants offer private party or banquet services as an added profit center, but “I didn’t know they did that?”, is what most of your customers would say if asked about your private party room. Your primary mission is to educate your customers to your banquet room offerings and use or refer you when the need arises. Here’s another way on hold messaging can provide a promotional windfall. Easily remind and educate callers about private party and banquet services by including information in your on hold content such as: Here at (you restaurant name) our exquisite decor creates the perfect setting for any occasion – whether you’re looking to have a private party with family and friends in our dining room, or host a special gathering in our spacious Party & Banquet Rooms. Book your reservation when we return to the line and we’ll make sure your next visit is an unforgettable one!
7. Drive Website Traffic and Create Raving Fans
Today, many restaurants feature on-line menus, special offer clubs and more. Plus many restaurants want to increase their fan base and also create raving on-line reviews. Your message on hold recording can effectively promote your online marketing. Educate callers by providing this valuable information with messages such as: You can check out all of our menus, daily specials, private party menus and more online at (insert your website address). Also, be sure to sign up for our VIP Loyalty Club to receive exclusive offers delivered right to you in-box. A good message will make mention of your Facebook page, Twitter feed, UrbanSpoon, Yelp, TripAdvisor and other places where you have a presence to get to know your establishment. Share your menu, website, and other promotional information with your customers on hold. This will give them a feel for the culture of your establishment and a well written on hold script will help re-enforce your other marketing efforts and promote your image.
Competition among restaurants is fierce, and customer loyalty in the restaurant business can be hard to come by. One of the most important aspects of running a successful and profitable restaurant is create a consistent guest experience, one that will get patrons talking about it at the office, or to friends and family.
Do you have any restaurant on hold marketing ideas that we didn’t mention in this post? Share your inspiration in the comments!