Owning and operating a restaurant in today’s economy can be a challenging proposition, which is why it is so important to build customer loyalty.  In truth repeat customers make up the bulk of any restaurant’s customer base and word-of-mouth advertising can do wonders for building up your clientele.  But how do you go about building customer loyalty in the restaurant industry?

While any one of the following five suggestions will help to increase your business, implementing all of them is highly recommended and definitely possible given a little time and planning.

Tip #1: Atmosphere is Everything

For dine-in customers the atmosphere of the establishment can rate right up there with the quality of service and nearly as high as the quality of your food.  But when you think of atmosphere, think more than the decorations and table linens; think also of an atmosphere of one-on-one recognition.  Customers like nothing better than visiting an establishment where they are recognized and called by name.  Encourage this kind of recognition in your staff.  Everyone from your bus boys to the chefs should be able to recognize repeat customers and make them feel comfortable.

Tip #2: Reward Your Repeat Customers

A customer rewards program for repeat customers is a must if you really want to establish your credibility with your repeat customers.  Perhaps a customer loyalty card (with a free meal after so many purchases) or coupons for a discount on their next meal purchased.  There are a number of options available when it comes to customer rewards, and each of them is worth the time and effort you will put into it.

Tip #3: Start a Newsletter

Believe it or not, many customers really do pay attention to what goes on in their local neighborhoods.  By starting a newsletter you can keep yourself firmly in their minds by their seeing your weekly or monthly newsletters in their email inbox.  This mailing list will also help to establish a list by which you can send out offers for discounts and special ‘group’ purchases or birthday discounts or other options, but the set up of a newsletter to address local concerns (and those specific to your restaurant) can be a viable option for asking for the emails.

Tip #4: Drawings and Giveaways

Having drawings and giveaways for repeat customers is a great way to keep them coming in.  Have a business card drawing for your lunchtime business clientele, or a random once a month door prize raffle where someone who came in during the course of an evening will receive a free meal for two, or free desert with their next purchase or something similar.

Tip #5: Reward Referrals

If a repeat customer refers a new customer to your restaurant, why not reward them?  Perhaps a coupon for free deserts the next time they come in, or even something as simple as a thank-you letter; something to let them know that you appreciate their support.

Truly, your repeat customers are the bread and butter of your business, so why not take the time to ensure that you do everything in your power to win their loyalty?  Not only will you be increasing the chances that they will keep on coming back, you’ll most likely gain new customers as well from their referrals, and that can be a very good thing.

Are there any other strategies that your restaurant employs? Leave a comment below and let us know.

Ian Said, is an entrepreneur and founder of Ideal Software, a software development company specializing in Stock Control and Point of Sale reporting solutions. 

Views: 283

Tags: Customer, IdealStockControl, Inventory, Loyalty, Profitability, Restaurant

Comment

You need to be a member of FohBoh to add comments!

Join FohBoh


Non-Operator
Comment by Ian Said on June 3, 2012 at 11:05pm

Thanks very much for your comments, Gary.

I am always amazed at how much time and money businesses will put in to attract new customers, but won’t do the same to look after existing customers! Great points!

Comment by Gary Pomponio on June 2, 2012 at 9:50pm

Ian, great post!  I'd like to add 2 things.  

Instead of constantly looking for new customers ... market directly to the ones you already have.  They are the most "guaranteed" group to pay benefits from your marketing dollars.  If they love you already, remind them!  A far simpler task than "convincing" new ones to both check you out and then hopefully love you as well.

Also, target your loyalty program for success.  I've always mailed out birthday invitations to my customers (I mean guests), and it has created a sense of community and friendship that any amount of money can't buy.  Note that I said "invitation" and not "coupon."  While they function the exact same way, they are polar opposites.  Coupons are impersonal, and we always strive to make our guests feel special, so it's all in how the staff handles it.  

The incentive is there for everyone.  More customers means more tips.  Customer loyalty will be increased, so you will see familiar faces more often.  The more you get to know your guests needs and wants, the more you’ll know how to up-sell them.  Customers win, servers win and you win.

Advertisments

 

DEPARTMENTS

Social Wine Club for Craft Wineries

Smartbrief

Report: Consumers want more protein, need more education

A majority of U.S.  -More

California Walnut Beet Carpaccio Flatbread
Jump start their appetites with this fabulous flatbread appetizer topped with beets, goat cheese, arugula and California Walnuts. For this and more great recipes, visit http://www.walnuts.org/food-professionals/trending-recipes/.

Vegetables take over dessert menus

Top pastry chefs in the U.S.  -More

Rising takeout demand drives new Mama Fu's footprint

Austin, Texas-based Mama Fu's Asian House debuted a smaller footprint unit focused on feeding a growing demand for takeout an -More

JOBS & CAREERS

Posting a job or finding a job starts here at FohBoh. Call us about special $25 posting packages to syndicate across all major jobs boards.

National News

Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes Certified As Nation's Largest 'Green' Restaurant Chain

National Group Salutes Country's Only Large Restaurant Group to be 'Certified Green Restaurants®'

National Restaurant Association and EatStreet Release Online Ordering Guide

The National Restaurant Association and EatStreet have released a free educational guide focusing on online ordering and emerging restaurant technology trends.

Boyd's Coffee Launches Single-Cup Coffees For Retail And Foodservice

The coffees come in a variety of roast levels and include organic and Rainforest Alliance Certified™ options: French No. 6®, Red Wagon® Organic Coffee, Good Morning™, Hi-Rev® (delivers more caffeine), and Lost Lake™ Decaf Organic Coffee.

Arby's Announces Development Deals With New And Existing Franchisees

ARG recently sold 14 company-operated restaurants in Tampa, FL to Mosaic Investments, Inc. (Mosaic), a fully integrated investment firm based in Atlanta. In addition to remodeling existing locations slated to commence at the end of 2014, Mosaic has committed to build 13 new Arby's restaurants in the Tampa area over the next nine years.

Smoothie King Appoints Vice President Of Business Development To Drive Brand's Expansion Across The U.S.

Prior to joining Smoothie King, Bruno served as vice president of retail sales, operations and franchise development for Fannie May Fine Chocolates, a division of 1800Flowers.com, where he oversaw a $69.5 million retail division that included 100 corporate stores and 45 franchised stores.

CROWD FUNDING

If you are looking for capital to start or grow your restaurant, create the next 501c3, develop and launch the next app for the restaurant industry,or want to help your peers in some meaningful way, we want to know about it.

TED TALKS VIDEO

TED: Michel Laberge: How synchronized hammer strikes could generate nuclear fusion - Michel Laberge (2014)

Our energy future depends on nuclear fusion, says Michel Laberge. The plasma physicist runs a small company with a big idea for a new type of nuclear reactor that could produce clean, cheap energy. His secret recipe? High speeds, scorching temperatures and crushing pressure. In this hopeful talk, he explains how nuclear fusion might be just around the corner.

TED: Sarah Lewis: Embrace the near win - Sarah Lewis (2014)

At her first museum job, art historian Sarah Lewis noticed something important about an artist she was studying: Not every artwork was a total masterpiece. She asks us to consider the role of the almost-failure, the near win, in our own lives. In our pursuit of success and mastery, is it actually our near wins that push us forward?

TED: Matthew Carter: My life in typefaces - Matthew Carter (2014)

Pick up a book, magazine or screen, and more than likely you'll come across some typography designed by Matthew Carter. In this charming talk, the man behind typefaces such as Verdana, Georgia and Bell Centennial (designed just for phone books -- remember them?), takes us on a spin through a career focused on the very last pixel of each letter of a font.

TED: Jeremy Kasdin: The flower-shaped starshade that might help us detect Earth-like planets - Jeremy Kasdin (2014)

Astronomers believe that every star in the galaxy has a planet, one fifth of which might harbor life. Only we haven't seen any of them -- yet. Jeremy Kasdin and his team are looking to change that with the design and engineering of an extraordinary piece of equipment: a flower petal-shaped "starshade" positioned 50,000 km from a telescope to enable imaging of planets about distant stars. It is, he says, the "coolest possible science."

© 2014   Created by FohBoh.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service