4 effective strategies for retaining restaurant customers
Customer loyalty is something that is extremely important in the food industry, in fact the importance of it cannot be overstated. Retaining customers is essential to success in the restaurant business and it is something that is not all that hard to do when you know how.
The restaurant business is highly competitive, but people are always going to need to eat and not always want to cook. They mark special occasions and celebrate good news by dining out, and if you are retaining their business, they’ll always come back to you.
1) Customer Dining Experience
If you create a positive and enjoyable customer dining experience, you are going to see people coming back for more. Add in excellent food that fits your niche and you’ll see word of mouth, helping to bring in new people whilst the old customers consistently come back. If you are serving food that doesn’t fit with your restaurant it is likely to detract from the experience, as are dirty tables and slow service. Here is a checklist to keep on hand, to ensure your restaurant can retain customers through offering, the best possible dining experience.
- Always acknowledge customers when they enter
- If a table isn’t ready, invite them for a drink at the bar whilst they wait, let them see the menu and get ahead on the process so that they are ready to order when they’ve sat down and you can keep their dining experience on track without feeling rushed
- The servers are the face of your brand, they need to be happy, tidy, alert and know your menu inside and out so they can make recommendations
- If the kitchen runs out of something and customers haven’t ordered yet, tell them. There is nothing worse than coming to order and being told that three things you want just aren’t in the kitchen
- Never be rude to the customers, no matter how rude they are to you
- Make sure service is efficient, drinks are refilled, servers are checking on tables to see if people need anything.
- Make sure the restaurant and menus are all clean and that nothing is sticky. Sticky tables do not feel like clean tables to the customers
2) Loyalty Schemes
Loyalty schemes are a great way to see people coming back for more. Loyalty stamps that add up, to free things or points that can be spent on meals to lower the price are both great forms of loyalty deals, that will get people back to you. Great food and great service help as well, but if you’re finding that your customer retention is low, even though you have put on an incredible dining experience, then a loyalty scheme could be the way to go. Loyalty schemes work most effectively through mobile apps, as customers want something that works as easily as possible with no hassle. Nearly all your customers will have high-tech mobiles, and you can use push-notifications to target your customers, to know of any offers!
3) Event Nights
Some places find that offering special event nights can bring in a huge amount of business. The Three Crowns in Wymeswold is a small village pub, but on their event nights they are packed out. We don’t just mean a quiz or live music; we are talking about food event nights. In the past they have done a gourmet hot dog night, regularly do Tapas nights and steak nights. It’s not the regular menu, but what they produce is delicious and gets people through the doors. They enjoy those nights so much, they come back to sample the regular menu and come to even more of the event nights.
4) Regular Offers
Regular offers are a great way to get people coming back, and though you may see a smaller profit on those offers, you’ll see a higher level of customer rendition, that off sets the immediate loss. 59 at The Hollies Restaurant in Tarporley, Cheshire is a restaurant, that makes everything the serve using stock from the farm shop, if you can buy it in the farm shop, they can make it in the restaurant – and vice versa, but that as big a draw as that is (and the 59 varieties of gin they have) it’s their regular offer nights that have the place packed. Monday to Wednesday every week they have a burger night. You can order any burger on the menu and any pudding for just £10 per person, or you can order steak and any pudding for just £15 per person. If you want to eat out at the start of the week, you have to book or you just can’t get a table.
The loss off the regular menu price isn’t a loss at all when so many people turn up to eat. Plus the money they make on the drinks helps to compensate for any loss, people having one or two more than usual because they are getting such a good deal on the food.
There are lots of different ways that you can try when retaining restaurant customers, and there is no one size fits all solution. It will depend a lot on your location and what other restaurants are doing. If they are all offering loyalty schemes, then you are going to have to try something different in order to stand out.