Tag Archives: Foursquare

10 Creative Ways to Use QR Codes at Your Restaurant

There are many statistics on the number of smartphone users in the United States.  So if we estimate at least half of the population owns a smartphone, which is a number that continues to increase, that says a lot about the direction of the QR code.

QR code stands for “quick response,” and is a convenient way for smartphone users to get information.  All one needs is a QR code reader application, such as Kaywa or Neoreader, then can just take a picture which scans the barcode and redirects them to a link of virtually anything.

At one point, QR codes were just looked at as cool and fun.  But now, they are proving to be reliable way to share information.  For a quick QR code 101, check out this Social Media Examiner article. Once you’re ready, here are 10 creative ways your restaurant can use QR codes and potentially boost sales.

1. Front Door or Host/Hostess Area: Many times, especially during peak hours, customers will have to wait to be seated. Put a QR code in the area with a link to your website or menu to keep them busy.

2. Foursquare: It’s free and easy to get your restaurant on Foursquare—and upon claiming your restaurant, you get a free window cling to encourage people to check-in. Take it a step further to make it even easier for your customers and have a QR code at the entrance with a link to your venue on Foursquare.

3. Menus: Stick a QR code right in the menu. It could direct them to information on how certain products are made, pictures, videos of the chef cooking up an entrée or nutritional and allergy information.

4. Pagers or Coasters: People find it interesting to find a QR code in an unusual place. It’s almost like unlocking a secret. Put a QR code on your pagers or coasters that link out to drink-related things such as specials or a video of the bartender making a drink to shows off their skills.

5. Table Roll Stands: While the menu usually goes with the wait staff upon taking an order, many restaurants have table roll stands with appetizers, drinks and desserts on the table. Use a QR code on your roll stands to link to these items as an added effort for an impulse buy, whether it be a creative video, pictures, positive customer comments or additional information.

6. Bathrooms: Typically, guests take a trip to the bathroom while they are waiting for their food or their check. Place a QR code on the side of the door that exits the bathroom (so they’ve washed their hands!) that links out to appetizers and desserts to get them thinking.

7. Table or Signage: Similar to the first idea about keeping people busy while they wait, sometimes customers can be waiting for quite a bit on their food, especially during peak hours.  Put a QR code on the table or on created signage that links to all kinds of things such as your Facebook, Twitter, website, videos, etc. to keep them busy. Many times, using a phone at the table is rude to the other guest, so perhaps you could use the QR code in a way for multiple guests to interact such as trivia, games, etc.

8. Check Holders: It’s always great to get feedback about a customer’s experience and many places put a survey on the receipt.  Unfortunately, people get home and forget all about it or throw it away.  Put a QR code on your check holder to encourage customers to immediately leave their feedback and possibly even give an incentive for them to come back.

9. To-Go Cups or Packaging: You always want your customers to be thinking of you and when they will come back next.  Put a QR code on your To-Go packaging that links to a special “thank you for visiting” message, or even a special offer for them to print off and bring in for their next visit.

10. Advertising: When buying advertising space, using a lot can get expensive or it may just not be an option.  Give prospective customers more information and incentives to stop in with a QR code that links to information about your restaurant, current specials, top picks and more.

Even in all this smartphone-user talk, there are still many non-smartphone users and it may seem unfair to exclude them from specials and deals just because of their phone.  To help keep things balanced, Central usually puts the link under or around a QR code.  It is just much easier for those with smartphones to quickly scan it and be redirected immediately.  And after all, it may just put a little more money into your pocket too.

What interesting ways do you use QR codes at your restaurant?

Using Social Media for Your Restaurant: Foursquare

Image from Social Media Examiner

In our final installment of the “Using Social Media for Your Restaurant” series, we’re going to cover Foursquare.  The sites we’ve covered (FacebookTwitter, Yelp! and Foursquare) were chosen because they are well known, but there are more sites out there. If you find one you think will work well for your customers, by all means pursue it.

We first took a look at Foursquare when our home city, Indianapolis, declared April 16 as Foursquare day.  After looking into it, we realized Foursquare is much more than just “checking-in” a place.  A few weeks later we got in touch with Russ Chargualaf, executive chef of Houlihan’s (Castleton Square, Indianapolis) for a blog and learned how great of a marketing tool Foursquare is through his experience.

What is Foursquare? I think we hit the nail on the head in May’s Foursquare blog:

“The location-based social media site, Foursquare, is gaining popularity among millions of mobile app users worldwide and also for over 250,000 (and counting) businesses—many being restaurants. With over eight million users and over 2.5 million check-in’s per day, this is another great advertising tool for restaurants. Best of all, it’s free and doesn’t take much time at all.”

Image from Foursquare Website

Where to Begin? If you haven’t joined Foursquare, you can go here to get your account. Upon logging in, you will be able to see what your friends are up to, but you will want to look into information for merchants to get working on new things for your restaurant.

First, similar to Yelp and other social media sites we’ve discussed, you will want to claim your venue.  Once you’ve claimed your venue, you can update your bio, other contact information (i.e. Twitter, website, and phone number), categories, tags and more.

While logged in, you can also view your venue stats which will allow you to know your customers better.

Tips

Badge Image from Zagat Blog

When you’re logged in on your venue (or any venue) you will notice tips.

“Tips are generally things you’d recommend to others,” the Foursquare support site says.  For example, someone may leave a tip saying, “Try the bacon cheeseburger!” or “Stop in Friday nights for a free appetizer!”

Once joining, you will see people checking-in and writing tips on your wall. In one of Chargualaf’s many marketing strategies, he utilizes Foursquare’s tips on locations in surrounding areas.  We posted in our May blog:

“In Houlihan’s case, at every hotel or motel within a mile, Chargualaf will put in a Tip welcoming someone to Houlihan’s with a short history, specials and hours.  Also, he’s been creative by creating a Tip for Midas and other car repair shops that says, “Just got your bill? Come and share your sorrows with us.  Half off drinks all day, everyday at Houlihan’s Castleton Square Mall.”

Foursquare Specials

Restaurants are one of the key places Foursquare specials are used. These are implemented for both new and loyal customers upon checking into your establishment. Upon checking in, customers can earn badges as a reward.  You can use these badges to then reward your customers.

“Be it a mobile coupon, prizes, discounts, your name on it, we dig it,” Techsterr.com says in their Tutorial on How to Create Foursquare Special for Business.

Steps for Starting a Special (through a Campaign)
Click here for more information on Foursquare’s specials.

  1. Click “Manager Tools”
  2. Click “Campaigns”
  3. Choose “Start a Campaign”
  4. Choose which type of special you would like to run (Techsterr fills you in on all the definitions for which type of special to run here)
  5. Finalize the verbiage, in which you will be able to see on the right hand side of your screen what your special will look like
  6. Just before you begin your special, you’ll reach a screen to show your special and you can choose when the special ends, save it for later if you need to then click “Start Campaign Now” to get rolling

It’s More Than Specials…

Just like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp—there are multiple aspects of Foursquare and ways to use it to grow your business. While it’s free, you must remember these two words: Self promote.  Grab attention by placing a check-in widget on your website, blog, etc.  You can even add in a special tab for your Facebook page or WordPress blog.

We’ve told you in the other blogs in the series, get the word out to your customers in all ways you can, so inform them about your Foursquare presence at your establishment and online. In your restaurant, you can look into printing off “Check-in” signs or get window clings.

By making your presence known on the web, you won’t only be attracting your regulars; you will be attracting people in the area that find you. Via their phone or on a website, customers can search an area and see what’s around them. So by running specials, posting tips and just keeping current, you will attract a new set of customers while remaining loyal to your regulars.

Resources

Take a look at these resources to help you through your Foursquare journey. We hope our social media series has been helpful. Be sure to comment below with any of your own tips for using social media for your restaurant.

Foursquare Merchant Platform by Foursquare

Foursquare Marketing Tips for Restaurants by Rebel Marketing Cafe

Houlihan’s: A Foursquare Success by Central Restaurant Products

Top 5 Foursquare Mistakes Committed by Small Businesses by Financial Bin

Why Restaurants Should Be Using Foursquare by Harrison Marketing

Image from Foursquare

Foursquare for Restaurants and Bars by Twitter for Restaurants

Keys to Success with Social Media Marketing: Foursquare by ClickZ

Houlihan’s: A Foursquare Success

The location-based social media site, Foursquare, is gaining popularity among millions of mobile app users worldwide and also for over 250,000 (and counting) businesses—many being restaurants. With over eight million users and over 2.5 million check-in’s per day, this is another great advertising tool for restaurants. Best of all, it’s free and doesn’t take much time at all.

Russ Chargualaf, executive chef of Houlihan’s of Castleton Square and social media liaison of Houlihan’s Indiana, began using Foursquare on a personal level with friends when he realized how great of a marketing tool it could be.

“Our location (Castleton Square, Indianapolis) was the first location in the company to utilize Foursquare,” he says. “Today, over 61 of our locations across the country utilize it!”

To give some background from the Foursquare website, smartphone app or SMS users can check-in places with their smartphone to share locations and collect points and badges. Users can also bookmark information and browse through suggestions about nearby venues.

For merchants, Foursquare says they can “leverage the foursquare platform by utilizing a wide set of tools to obtain, engage, and retain customers and audiences”—which is exactly what Houlihan’s is doing.

Image: Houlihan’s Logo

Through Foursquare, Chargualaf says the entire company has a promotion for customers to receive a complimentary order of “frites” upon every check-in.  Also, the Mayor of each location (user with the most number of days of check-ins at a specific place within the past 60 days) receives 10 percent off all food items.

The Castleton Square location has taken “a more aggressive” approach by giving a free dessert upon each check-in and first time Mayors receive a $25 gift certificate.  This aggressive approach has helped build Houlihan’s sales tremendously.

Chargualaf uses Foursquare to create a personal experience for guests.  He has seen Mayors change three times in a week before and since he can monitor all check-ins, if Chargualaf notices a guest comes in consistently but hasn’t been a Mayor, he will call and have the manager find that person and buy them dinner.

“This is just another way to utilize Foursquare as a loyalty tool and reward our guests for coming in all the time.”

Chargualaf also said they’ve implemented Foursquare into their employee orientation program because they want their guests to be well educated about how it works.

Another interesting use of Foursquare is adding Tips (notes left on a venue for friends and other foursquare users).

In Houlihan’s case, at every hotel or motel within a mile, Chargualaf will put in a Tip welcoming someone to Houlihan’s with a short history, specials and hours.  Also, he’s been creative by creating a Tip for Midas and other car repair shops that says, “Just got your bill? Come and share your sorrows with us.  Half off drinks all day, everyday at Houlihan’s Castleton Square Mall.”

“It’s simple things like these that are free yet, build business and bring in money,” Chargualaf says.

By using these methods, he has witnessed people from out of the area become regulars by visiting once a month just based on a Tip they received upon checking into their hotel.

“We also utilize Foursquare for our Social Media Tweetups (gathering of Twitter users) that we hold once a month,” Chargualaf says—with their next event being on June 1.

Houlihan’s is one of many restaurants successfully using Foursquare to bring in customers and create a memorable experience for them.  While many people are still skeptical of using this social media platform, or find it a waste of time for their business, it really can be a great tool for both users and businesses to come together.

Lastly, if you’re in the Indianapolis area, be sure to check-in the Central showroom.