Your existing customers are the backbone of your restaurant business.
Customer retention is important for every business, but it’s even more important for businesses that rely on word-of-mouth marketing. And we all know that in the restaurant industry, how well people speak of your food, service, and overall business can make or break your success.
Happy customers equals repeat customers, and these are some of the people who bring the crowd into your restaurant. When a customer you turned into a loyal fan of your food and service refers a friend or two, you could be expanding your business without focusing on expensive new tricks you can’t know will draw in customers.
Effective customer retention is essential to every restaurant strategy, and here is what you can do to keep your customers coming back without a ton of muss or fuss:
Give your restaurant a personal touch.
People love to be treated specially, and they are much more likely to return to your restaurant if it offers a personal touch.
Your host and restaurant staff should work together on giving your business that personal connection. You’ve probably visited popular restaurants where the host greets the guests in person and helps them find their table. If not this, you’ve surely had that satisfactory moment where one waiter makes the effort to know your name or ordering habits.
Hiring and training staff interested in providing regular customers with the service they expect is key to high customer retention. Of course, everyone in your staff should go through etiquette training to learn how to gauge the mood of a customer and take caution to avoid being too imposing. In any case, make sure to thoroughly train each staff member before you send them out to wait tables.
Gather and use customer feedback.
Have you been in a restaurant or coffee place where the waiter brings a small customer feedback paper and pen for you to share your opinions about the restaurant? This is an excellent idea to gather feedback, but you can also create a box for feedback that everyone can add to.
Getting feedback is even easier with technology. Many guests will leave the restaurant and leave feedback online, and you won’t even have to ask them to. And loyalty programs like Rewards Network has built this into their customer platform, providing you data and reporting from customers you know actually dined with you.
Use customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Has one of your customers celebrated their birthday at your restaurant? Set a system where you can note such details, including the feedback of existing customers, and use it to improve customer retention.
For example, you can send a customer a birthday greeting or congratulate a couple on their anniversary. This will probably prompt them to celebrate such happy occasions in your restaurant.
Remembering customers’ names and preferences can be tough on the staff if you are running a big restaurant. Make sure to use CRM to write down these preferences, and use them to make them feel valued.
Adopt a good loyalty program.
One excellent way to set up such programs is to work with an existing loyalty provider like Rewards Network. Unlike a lot of membership programs, Rewards Network doesn’t need a membership card to track customers or coupon codes that devalue your menu. They drive new customers through your doors from their cache of 17 million loyalty members nationwide, who spend more and dine more frequently than other customers.
Rewards Network will track on how often its members visit your restaurant and record and share their verified reviews with you. You get the chance to interact with customers after they leave your establishment, even if it’s just to thank them for dining with you. And you never have to discount your food and drink. Rewards Network takes care of rewarding their members on your behalf.
Enhance your online marketing strategy.
At this point, online presence is highly important for any business. Good online marketing can keep your customers informed of events, help you run e-mail campaigns to remind them of such events, and send out special offers.
With customers that have visited a lot, you can even offer coupons for their favorite items from the menu, or send them an email that the restaurant misses them if they haven’t dined there for a while.
A good marketing strategy can go a long way for your restaurant. If you do it well, you can promote feedback and use it to attract new customers. To do this, you need the help of the existing customers by encouraging word-of-mouth. A good online strategy will encourage this as well.
Improve and change your menu.
Your menu should be simple and well-designed. Whichever design or menu items you choose is up to you, but make sure that your menu has all the information the customer needs, and this information is presented clearly and without mistakes.
‘’At first, I thought that those ridiculous spelling mistakes in a menu annoy me because I do writing for a living. But, when I noticed how my friends complain about this and notice the errors as often as I do, I learned that this is not another ‘professional deformation’.’ – says Victoria Hope, content writer at aussiewritings.com.
Knowing this, you must make sure that your menu is compact, easy to read and digest in just a few short minutes, and that everything in your restaurant is optimized for customers’ satisfaction.
Want to explore how Rewards Network can provide a customer loyalty program that drives in new customers — and keeps them coming back?
Olivia Ryan is an independent journalist and passionate explorer. She likes to write about everything that can positively affect people’s life. When not searching for a new topic to write on, Olivia prefers to take a camera and enjoy the beauty of nature. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.