Two years ago I met a restaurant owner, and he told me about his rocky path to success. He said for years his business muddled along until one day people came in droves and kept coming back.
2013 for Standing Sushi Bar is the year when something “clicked.” Since January, the 8 Queen Street branch has been packed out nightly (except Sundays, that’s another nut to crack), the Marina Bay Link Mall location has boomed up, and Tanuki Raw is happy hour madness. Knock on wood this continues; it’s as if a piano, cargo truck, and building were all lifted off my shoulders… still leaving a monkey on my back. (That may not have made sense to anyone but me :D)
So why did business pick up so dramatically?
My guess is a combination of promotions, ads, publicity, and increasing brand awareness. Sounds like obvious stuff, but the confluence of events necessary to reach a tipping point (I hate myself when I use that phrase, but it’s applicable) came through some planning and luck.
Promotions – I had toyed with various incentives to get folks in during off-peak periods, but at the beginning of the year I decided there was no point in half-assing around with weak promotions. My philosophy is, it’s attractive to the diner if it’s making you (the business) feel uncomfortable.
Ads / Getting the word out there – Of course I wanted people to know about the new promotions, so I spent more on ads and made it a point to let people know in e-mail about what new things we were offering. It was great that with Facebook ads and attractive offerings, people helped by sharing the information along their network.
Publicity – There was a good amount of press (traditional and online) focused on Tanuki Raw since it recently opened. Almost every article referenced that it was by the folks behind the Japanese restaurant Standing Sushi Bar, which brought renewed attention to SSB at the same time as we were launching the new happy hour and weeknight concepts.
Increasing brand awareness – After 3 years, we’re not the new kid on the block anymore. I would hope plenty of people have heard about Standing Sushi Bar! I think that people have, and many of them may have made assumptions about the restaurant (too far, no seats, etc.) so never considered coming. After seeing things shared by their friends and reading the name in the press, it may have been the nudge they needed to check us out.
I always wondered whether it was true what my friend said. Seems like it.