The question that many other restaurant owners ask me is: How can I get new customers and I don't have a big budget to spend on advertising? Often times, I'd tell them I would skip the advertising step entirely if they have a low budget. Advertising is costly, let's be real. However, promoting the restaurant with coupons is a great alternative.
Coupons reduce profits, but what profits do you have if you have no revenues to begin with?
Assuming you have some cash on hands and you have low sales at the moment, what are you going to do with that little cash?
1. You can advertise; the money is spent and you still could have no sales.
2. You can create coupons, the money is only spent IF and WHEN there is sales (and the money is spent on the actual foods and services you provide, not some intangible advertisements).
As of today, I'm sure you all (owners or customers) have heard of Groupon, Living Social, or even Yelp. They are some of the very popular daily deal sites in the industry right now. They are great and strong with a whole team of sales people and web SEM experts that drive your sales to the roof. Awesome, but the story doesn't end here. Did you know that by the end of the day you would have to share up to 50% of your profits to them? Another problem I've seen in the past is that, if you own a rather small restaurant and aren't so prepared, the kind of customer traffic you get might overwhelm you all of the sudden and leave a bad impression for the customers. Of course, I've also seen successful stories of restaurants with sufficient staffing and resources, then by all means go for it. Smaller restaurants owners, however, could look for newer and less-aggressive deal sites. Here in San Francisco, I discovered one (www.buckslive.com) that doesn't require a 50/50 profits-split unlike others, and also with a small posting fee that fits the bill. I'm sure there are others like Buckslive in the city, as well as in other cities, so please feel free to share and contribute to this thread.
Good luck to all.