The right indoor and outdoor signage can help your restaurant business attract customers, spotlight specials, and potentially increase sales. But it’s not just a matter of slapping up a sign and waiting for customers to come. You must be intentional and strategic about the messaging and placement of every sign, whether it’s an attention-grabbing sandwich board or poster or a humble table tent.
Curious about how to translate signs into dollar signs for your restaurant? Keep reading for 8 ways to increase sales with signage.
1. Help Customers Find You
You might have the best penne alla vodka on this side of the Mississippi, but your restaurant won’t rack up sales if people can’t find you. Strategically-placed signage can help people locate your restaurant so they can become paying customers.
For example, a simple sandwich board with your restaurant’s name and/or logo, an arrow, and the words “at the end of the block!” can be a boon to your business, especially if you’re located on a side street or might otherwise be difficult to find. Alternatively, you might strike up an agreement with a more prominently-located business to display a poster or flyers with directions to your establishment.
2. Share Your Menu
It may not be possible to share samples of your restaurant’s food with everyone who passes by, but it is possible to tempt them with your menu. Here are two ways to use signs to share your menu to attract more customers.
Display Your Menu For Passersby
There’s a reason why so many restaurants display their menus in the window. It acts as a mini billboard, marketing your restaurant to the public 24/7. Not only can it attract customers who are looking for a place to eat immediately, but it can plant the seed for future sales as people walk by and browse the menu.
Share Your Online Menu With a QR Code
Did you know that as many as 90% of people research a restaurant online before dining? A well-placed outdoor sign or a poster in the window featuring a QR code can help customers check out your menu before they enter your restaurant.
Access to an online menu via QR code can be handy once customers are in your restaurant, too. Scanning a QR code on a tabletop display to access your offerings can act as a stand-in for printed menus, or it can guide customers through a completely contactless interaction from ordering to payment.
3. Spotlight Food Specials
Food specials create a sense of limited supply that can drive customer demand — and sales. But given the fleeting nature of specials, you may not want to give them a permanent spot on your menu. Signage can help spread the word.
For example, say that you have a regular weekly special where you offer half-price burgers on Tuesdays. Signage such as posters or table tents can help you promote the special without making it a fixture on your menu. Even if customers are visiting on a different day of the week, the signage may inspire them to make a return trip.
What if your specials are ever-changing? Signage can still clue customers in. For instance, your signage may urge people to follow you on social media for up-to-the-moment information on specials, or it may feature a QR code that can direct them to your email list so they can get regular updates.
4. Showcase Happy Hour Deals
Picture a crew of co-workers looking for a place to get a drink after work. Which establishment will they choose — the one with signage that clearly indicates that they offer happy hour specials or the one without? Most likely the former.
Happy hour can be big business. Sure, the prices may be lower, but the increased sales volume and potential for customers to stay for an extra drink or for dinner beyond happy hour can make up for it.
Happy hour can be promoted on signage both indoors and outdoors. For instance, a poster in the window or a sandwich board outdoors reading “Happy Hour! $5 appetizers, $4 beer, $5 wine, $8 cocktails” can both indicate that you have a happy hour and tell customers what to expect. Alternatively, tabletop signs such as table tents can bring attention to your specials and convey details including any limitations, which can streamline the ordering process.
5. Attract New Customers
Outdoor signage doesn’t just have to be factual — it can also be used to creatively “bait” customers from the outside.
For example, a sandwich board outside printed simply with the image of a plate of pasta gives people passing by the indication of food, but doesn’t tell the full story. A little mystery can go a long way — it may at least tempt them to take a peek at your menu.
Alternatively, your outdoor signage could take a cheeky approach. A joke like “Soup of the day: BEER!” can give people a chuckle — and potentially prompt them to come in for a drink or to eat.
6. Promote Upcoming Events
Events can attract customers, which can increase sales. Does your restaurant host events, such as trivia night, an open mic, or a boozy book club? If so, let people know with the right sign. Here are a few ideas:
- Table tents can act as tiny tabletop advertisements for existing customers, alerting them to upcoming events.
- A sandwich board stating “Live music tonight” or specifying the type of event going on can help attract customers off of the street.
- Posters in your window and/or in the windows of other local businesses can help spread the news about your upcoming event.
7. Get More Social Media Follows
According to a survey conducted by marketing firm MGH, nearly half of U.S. diners said they’ve tried a restaurant as a result of the establishment’s social media posts — and of the respondents who regularly engaged with restaurants on social media, 74% reported that they’re more likely to order food from restaurants that they follow.
Signage can help you attract more social media followers in a variety of ways. One of the easiest ways is to prominently display your social media handles on indoor and outdoor signage. To make it even easier on customers, you could create a QR code to scan that will guide them directly to your social media pages.
8. Get More Reviews
Did you know that a one-star increase on Yelp can increase a restaurant’s profit by up to 9%? Online reviews are the modern form of word-of-mouth recommendations. The better the feedback, the more customers you’ll attract!
The problem? Few people will proactively write a review unless they have a truly exceptional or truly terrible experience. Signage can help you gently request and suggest reviews from the masses. For example, a sign reading “Love your meal? Review us on Yelp!” can remind people to show you some love. Alternatively, a QR code printed on a table tent, on a small sign near the register, or even a post by the exit can direct customers right to online review sites.
Sign Me Up!
Signs aren’t merely a means of conveying information — they can also be a powerful sales tool for your restaurant. By putting these savvy signage ideas to work, you can help more people find you, improve turnout to events, and increase overall engagement with your business — all of which can have a big impact on your bottom line.
Guest Author Bio: Mark Plumlee is the Sr. Content Manager for MustHaveMenus, the leading design software and template provider for restaurants. He enjoys following restaurant trends and rooting for the Portland Trail Blazers.