- Digital Strategy
- Paid Search
A local Tex Mex restaurant chain needed a new strategy to maintain profits and stay ahead of the competition during the COVID quarantine.
At the height of the COVID pandemic:
The Rio Grande Restaurant
The Rio Grande first opened in Fort Collins, Colorado, in 1986. They value good food, good service, and positive energy, and they’re known in the state for their Tex Mex food and margaritas. They’ve since grown to six locations. Learn more about our work with the Rio here.
In early 2020, the Rio Grande restaurant had already been working with us for over 2 years. Their search volume was up, and their six locations were seeing steady growth.
Rio customers enjoying food before COVID
Everything changed in March 2020
When COVID hit the US in March 2020, the restaurant industry saw an instantaneous shift. Over the next few months, restaurants were ordered to close dining rooms or restrict capacity. Online ordering was up around the country, but the Rio wasn’t set up for food delivery. Something needed to change!
Like everyone else, the Rio had to shut down their dining rooms for quarantine.
The Rio needed a major shift in strategy to manage unprecedented industry restrictions.
Research uncovered an untapped opportunity
Dominating the “Curbside” Market
We knew the Rio needed a competitive advantage to stay afloat, so we turned to a tried and true – though often underutilized – tool: Google Trends. Something astonishing came to light.
Curbside was a new term for takeout that hadn’t existed in the past and saw dramatic increases in spring of 2020. By spotting the term “curbside” and directing the Rio’s marketing efforts to that keyword, we got the Rio ahead of everyone else in search results. Curbside was actually searched more than “takeout” and “delivery” combined, and the Rio was showing up when people searched for it. We adjusted paid campaign strategy and messaging to focus on curbside and takeout.
The Rio doesn’t only sell food, though. Alcohol sales are a large part of their revenue. When alcohol sales were heavily restricted during COVID, this profit generator disappeared…until the governor announced a change. Restaurant with a liquor license would not be allowed to sell alcohol to takeout and delivery customers.
With this new order going into place on a Monday, we hunkered down over the weekend to prepare the Rio to sell. We built ecommerce functionality on the Rio’s website so they could make sales online, which was particularly important since they didn’t have the staff to handle phone calls. We launched paid search campaigns to communicate the availability of margaritas – one of the Rio’s staples – for takeout and delivery. We got ahead of Google’s infrastructure, which didn’t move fast enough to get users the information they wanted as soon as it was available.
Margaritas To Go!
One of Their Best Days Ever
The results were immediate and resounding. The Rio ranked #1 across all restaurant locations for “curbside”. Our push to support alcohol sales led to one of the restaurant’s highest revenue days ever – including pre-COVID. During May 2020, under a full quarantine, Cinco de Mayo sales were 2.5x more than expected!
You hire experts like Brillity, they teach you how to target better, they teach you how to message better, and then voila. Through that process, you start seeing people start paying more attention to your company, and ultimately what you want to see is more butts in seats. And that means increased volume and increased sales.
JASON BARRETT, RIO GRANDE CEO