Loyal customers are the foundation of your restaurant. They provide steady income, usually spend more than new customers, and make great brand ambassadors. It even costs less to keep them than it does to attract new customers.
Cultivating a regular customer base doesn’t happen on its own. Use the following techniques to unlock the many benefits of customer loyalty.
Get Back To Basics
Give people a reason to be loyal by maintaining high standards for all aspects of your restaurant and by keeping up with customer trends.
- Focus on Food. The quality and consistency of your food is the number one reason people will come back time and time again. Focus on freshness, flavor, temperature and consistency.
- Stay Current. The restaurant business and customer demands continuously evolve. From online ordering and delivery, to mobile payment options and fresh food trends, strive to stay on top of shifts within the industry.
- Make Cleanliness a Priority. Keep things tidy and well maintained—from clean bathrooms and sparkling silverware to neat and organized delivery orders. This is a fundamental element of a great customer experience.
Be Accountable For Mistakes
In the fast-paced restaurant industry, mistakes are bound to occur from time to time. View them as opportunities to show off your customer service skills, and you just might win over a customer for life.
- Take Responsibility. Don’t point fingers or blame. Just apologize for the error and let the customer know you are committed to making up for it.
- Respond To Reviews. Monitor all review sites and respond promptly to everyone. Be courteous at all times, especially when responding to bad reviews. Suggest taking the conversation off-line to give more personalized attention to disgruntled customers.
- Make Reparations. Offer something to smooth the situation over. Customers will appreciate the gesture and remember your sincere attempts to make their less-than-favorable experience better.
Own Your Specialty
Celebrating what makes you different—and gearing your business model towards people that it resonates with—inspires loyalty in customers.
- Be Bold. Pinpoint the exact feature(s) that makes your restaurant unique (i.e., signature dish, best prices, family recipes, etc.). This is called your Unique Selling Proposition.
- Know Your Customer. You can’t be all things to all people. Determine who will be attracted to your unique offerings and what matters most to them.
- Carry It Out. Follow your unique theme throughout your business: in marketing messages, menu items, décor, and more.
Create A Winning Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs are a wonderful way to reward loyal customers, keep them engaged with your brand, and encourage additional sales.
- Match Programs To Customers. There are many different types of programs that incentivize customer loyalty and ultimately grow your business: fun interactive games, point systems, customized rewards, loyalty benchmarks, and tailored promotions. Create a customer loyalty rewards program that fits your target customers’ personality.
- Keep It Simple. The success of your loyalty program will largely depend on how simple the rules are, and how easy it is to sign up and redeem rewards.
- Promote It. Your staff should be trained to encourage customers to sign up for rewards programs. Promote your loyalty program on social media and your website, during the online ordering process, on receipts and checks, through email blasts, on tent cards, and more.
Be Good Community Partners
Today’s consumers like to align themselves with businesses are contributing positively to society. Become a supporter of the community that sustains you, and your good deeds will inspire loyalty.
- Buy Local. Support local farms and suppliers, and feature dishes on your menu made with local ingredients. This will capture customers’ interest in both sustainability and healthy eating.
- Give Back. Pick a local charity to partner with and host events to raise funds and awareness. You can also sponsor a local athletic group or civic organization, and donate food for local shelters or food pantries.
- Support Neighborhood Talent. Create a venue for local singers and musicians to provide live entertainment in your dining room or bar on certain nights. You can also feature the work of local artists and craftsmen throughout your restaurant, and even host galas and art shows.
These tactics can help you both satisfy your customers and make special connections with them. Show them how much you appreciate and value them, and they will be inspired to return that sentiment.
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