Abby Weaver is the marketing director for Fajita Grill (Fajitagrill.com), a small restaurant with locations in Oswego and Fulton, New York, that successfully uses email marketing and its website to boost sales.
PeC: When did Fajita Grill launch its website?
Weaver: Even before we opened the first restaurant, we had a website. It was just the basics with contact info, and was primarily used for online job applications. We were overwhelmed with responses and didn’t need to run any newspaper advertising.
PeC: How do you promote the restaurant’s website?
Weaver: The website address is included in our email marketing. It is on our menus, fax order forms, table tents — everything.
PeC: Does your email marketing work?
Weaver: I know it’s successful based on the response rate. We have about 300 coupons redeemed each month, a very high response rate for our list size. Compared to direct mail where I had less than half a percent response rate, this is a no-brainer.
PeC: How frequently do you email your specials?
Weaver: I limit my email to once per month, and I have the coupons valid all month. I know nothing about website creation or HTML, but I can fill in the email form, upload my photos and play with the look. Then I hit “send,” and all 1,667 customers receive my specials in their inboxes.
PeC: How did you go about building your email marketing list?
Weaver: We started with emails we collected in store as people signed up for our frequency card. I had 650 email addresses a year ago. I continue to input the new frequent-eater card holders. I also added a box on every page of my website for email promotion sign-up. The email provider I use takes care of the subscribes and unsubscribes from my website, so this part takes no time. It’s amazing how many people sign up from our website, upwards of 10 people per day some days.
PeC: Why should a restaurant have a website or an email marketing plan?
Weaver: Even my 3-year-old daughter has a website. You need a website, even if it’s only one page with your phone, fax and hours of operation. I chose to add my menus, printable fax order forms, photos of our food and the contact us and employment forms. But starting from nothing, I would start with a simple website and collect email addresses in the store and online.
PeC: Do customers really use your website?
Weaver: I have had a few customers unhappy when they left the store who, for some reason, didn’t ask to speak to a manager. They vented to us on the website, and the restaurant’s owners get the emails so they see what a customers said. We can then call the customer and offer a gift certificate or complimentary meal and patch up what might have been a lost customer relationship. That outlet for feedback and our generous response goes a long way in showing customers how much we care.