Some restaurants become heavily dependent on friends and family to fill tables.
Not just on their own friends and family, but also those of their staff, as well as those of the musicians and entertainers they book.
What’s the problem with that? The problem is that some business owners don’t do their homework. They don’t take the time to think about the target customer they want to attract and serve, and how to appeal to them directly.
Every restaurant should focus on building their regular customer base. That way, whenever additional people walk through their doors, it’s a bonus.
So, how do you encourage customer loyalty in a time when people are increasingly dependent on technology to inform their choices?
Implement A Loyalty Program
Discounts and one-time offers may help you generate new business. But they won’t necessarily help you keep customers coming back. That’s what a loyalty program is for.
A loyalty program is one that rewards customers for returning to your place of business, like FiveStars. It could be a points and rewards system. It could be a punch card to keep track of meals the customer has eaten at your restaurant. It could also be a loyalty card that gives guests the opportunity to claim prizes and bonuses.
To make your loyalty program a success, you will need to keep it simple. Here in the digital age, people don’t necessarily want to carry cards with them everywhere they go. Though more expensive, developing and utilizing an app might be a more convenient method for your guests. Or, if you have an internal tracking system, that will take the onus off the customer to provide proof or to carry cards and devices with them.
Offer Excellent Customer Service
It might seem obvious, but based on how some businesses treat their customers, common sense is less common than you might think.
This isn’t just about doing the bare minimum. It’s about going above and beyond. It’s about remembering customer names, returning to the tables frequently to offer refills, being helpful and polite, assisting customers with orders, and so on. Your staff needs to be efficient because they may need to cover people’s shifts or do their best with a smaller workforce at times.
This also extends into food quality. Even if you offer great service, if your dishes aren’t memorable and delicious, it doesn’t give your customers a reason to keep coming back. Every detail matters – the atmosphere, cleanliness, price, and more. Be impeccable in every regard for best results.
Build A Connection
A business to customer relationship is like that of any other. Without regular communication, nurturing, and the occasional surprise, the relationship can weaken and dwindle.
Today, there are many ways to communicate with your customers on an ongoing basis – perhaps too many. You can use SMS/text messages, email, social media, instant messaging services, and more. The key here will be to cater to your customer’s preferences. Contacting too often can be a problem. Being too self-promotional can be a problem. Though customizing communication can take more work, in the end it will lead to better results.
Personalization is fast becoming a favored strategy in many industries. There’s no reason why it can’t be used to build your restaurant too.
Most importantly, pursue excellence in service and in the menu items you offer. You can do a great job of branding and marketing, but people won’t come back if they don’t think they can get what they want at your restaurant.
Offer a good selection of dishes on your menu, and ensure the training of your staff. Without proper training, they could end up making costly mistakes, and in the end that will cost you more than not training at all.