The following article is a guest post from Marvin Doerfler. Marvin has been designing and producing menus for upscale restaurants and hotels for over 40 years. He now offers the same creative products on a non-exclusive basis through his website The Menu Shoppe.
Everyone has that one restaurant they just keep going back to time and time again. Whether it’s because of the food, the service, or some other secret ingredient, continued patronage is customer loyalty in action. Restaurant owners and managers need to ask themselves, is this happening at your restaurant?
Attracting new customers can be expensive. If you already have a high customer acquisition cost, it’s even more important that you focus on the customers you do have and how to keep them coming back. The more regular customers you can hold onto, the less money you’ll have to spend on acquiring new ones. Fortunately, there are four effective ways to increase your customer loyalty.
Restaurants that are involved in their local communities are quick to become local favorites. Hire local musicians to perform in your restaurant, invite local artists to hang their art on your walls, participate in local events, donate excess food to a shelter, do anything you can to show your customers you care about their community. If you support your local community, your community will support you back.
Be Active on Social Media
Social media has changed the way customers interact with restaurants completely. Instead of asking to speak to a manager, guests are more often choosing to post their positive and negative comments on social media. Not only are they communicating through these channels, but they expect a timely response. Make sure you’re listening to what your customers have to say and responding appropriately. Communicating with your guests allows you to build a personal connection with them.
Train Your Servers
Your servers are possibly the most valuable asset to customer loyalty in your toolbox. Not only do they get to interact with your customers face to face, but they can act as an ambassador to your restaurant outside of work. Keeping your employees happy will also keep them telling their friends and family about how your restaurant is a great place to work. A happy employee means a profitable business, and a positive experience for your customers.
Start a Loyalty Program
You can’t talk about customer loyalty without talking about loyalty programs, and they are called that because they do just that: increase loyalty. Offering discounts and rewards to regular customers is a surefire way to get them to return. It can be as simple as a free drink on your birthday, or as complicated as a membership that lets you earn discounts. Either way, make sure your loyalty program is geared towards getting your regular customers to come back again, and again, and again.