Lunchtime customers are pictured eating in a brightly lit, busy cafe.
Dawn Urrutia, owner of Georgia’s Sweet Potato Pie Company, incorporates techniques like hosting regular customer appreciation events and promotions to boost customer traffic. — Getty Images/monkeybusinessimages

If you could create your own fantasy board of directors, who would be on it? CO— connects you with thought leaders from across the business spectrum and asks them to help solve your biggest business challenges. In this edition, we ask an expert about how restaurant owners can boost foot traffic and become more successful.

In this edition of "Ask the Board," we're pleased to feature Dawn Urrutia, owner of America's Top Small Business Honoree Georgia's Sweet Potato Pie Company, a Louisville, Kentucky-based bakery that also provides books to the community. Dawn shared her tips on how restaurant owners can increase foot traffic in their establishments.

Foot traffic is essential for any restaurant. Fortunately, there are several ways you can get more customers in the door, even during slow times. Here's how I maximized foot traffic at Georgia's Sweet Potato Pie Company.

Host annual customer appreciation events

A couple of times throughout the year, we host VIP events. These events bring all of our top customers together to enjoy free food, desserts, and great conversation. We take this time to verbally thank each customer for their support.

Offer discounts to certain customers

It's a good idea to entice groups of customers, like students, military personnel, first responders, and educators with special discounts. We offer a 15% discount to all students, ranging from early childhood age to those in college. In addition, we thank military personnel and first responders with a 15% discount as well.

We believe that people may forget what you said or what you have fed them, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Promote a dessert, dish, or product of the month

Each month, we feature a special dessert. This dessert is usually available for a limited period of time. Be sure to promote your limited-time offering on social media and other marketing platforms to get customers excited.

Get customers involved

We encourage our customers to post photos, leave reviews, and become taste testers. These actions help get the word out about our company and enable us to make suggested improvements that enhance our restaurant.

Start a loyalty or VIP program

Many of our customers are members of our unique loyalty program. They receive points/stars with each purchase. After a customer earns 10 stars, they're rewarded with a free dessert.

Be consistent with your offerings and customer service

We believe that people may forget what you said or what you have fed them, but they will never forget how you made them feel. That's why our mission is to always offer our customers great desserts and excellent customer service.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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