As you’re deciding on your personal resolutions for the new year, be sure to take the time to focus on creating resolutions to set your restaurant up for success in 2018. We’ve worked with a lot of restaurants in a variety of different capacities in our nearly 10 years in business, including branding, website design, launch PR, and social media management. Based on our experience, the following recommendations are some of the most important aspects to focus on if you want to engage guests and increase sales.

Update your menus (everywhere).

Start by updating your core menu content with new items, prices, and other information, like hours of operation, specials, or management. Next, make sure that information is consistent across the board (and no, we don’t just mean the menu board). Does your restaurant have an online menu, digital boards, a menu on your social media accounts, and handheld menus? Be sure the content, design, and information matches everywhere – not only does it look nice and showcase your attention to detail, but it also enhances brand recognition and increases your profile views online. One more thing… dirty or torn menus? Throw those bad boys away.

Consider the calendar.

Use your downtime or slow season to plan your marketing efforts for the year to come. Map out a calendar (physical or online) of traditional and food holidays, promotions, specials, and events that might affect your business or marketing efforts. By putting in the time and effort ahead of time, you’ll save yourself some headaches down the road when you’re planning your media buys, social media content, earned media outreach, newsletters, and more. Check out our blog post, Why Your Team Needs A Content Calendar, to get started.

Adjust your advertising.

Refresh your media plan. Take time to evaluate what worked and what didn’t, as well as where you’re spending your advertising dollars and why. Your ads should be delivered in outlets and formats that reach your target guests — and if your current plan isn’t working, take the time to develop a plan that will.

Mobile, mobile, mobile!

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it a million times more: Make sure your website is mobile friendly! Sites that are not optimized for mobile (phones/tablets) show up less in search results and even pay more for ads on search engines. Another reason mobile-friendly sites are crucial to your restaurant because the majority of restaurant website visitors come from a mobile device. Not sure if your site is optimized for mobile devices? Check it out on Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, and then read our blog post on making sure your website is truly mobile friendly.

Invest in imagery.

Don’t let your image get stale. Schedule a time to update your advertising and guest-facing visuals in-store, online, and beyond with fresh photography and graphic images. Businesses that regularly add photos to their profiles receive more profile views.

Review your reviews.

Ignoring your customers’ opinions in person is bad, right? So why would you do it online? The last thing any restaurant owner needs is a viral storm of online hate that goes unaddressed. Let your customers know their voices are heard and valued. As an added bonus, responding to reviews increases your overall rating. Hospitality businesses that respond to reviews see, on average, a ¼ star increase in their customer rating, according to a 2016 study by the International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.

Refresh your wardrobe.

Well, your staff’s wardrobe. Order new employee wearables, new merchandise for purchase, and other swag. There’s nothing worse than a server visiting a table with holes in their shirt or a grease or bleach stain. Branded wearables bring a visual sense of cohesion to your back-of-house brigade and front-of-house service team.