Why Restaurants Need Customer Retention
Any restaurant manager knows how important it is to grow your existing customer base. It’s why restaurants spend so much time on advertisements and targeted marketing campaigns to bring in new business. But did you know that it’s more expensive to garner new customers than it is to focus on the ones you have? We’re talking about customer retention.
Established patrons spend nearly 70% more on average than recruits. They’re also a valuable resource; word-of-mouth marketing is critical for businesses because it leverages trust and boosts your reputation. Customers who genuinely like your restaurant will tell their friends and family to try you out, and they’re much more likely to follow advice coming from a trusted source. While good food and service matter, it’s not enough to compel someone to try you over your competition if you don’t have a unique selling point. Customer retention is an integral part of the foundation of any good restaurant.
How to Grow Customer Retention
Identify what traits or aspects of the business matter most to your best customers and redouble your efforts in those areas. Some tactics always work, like:
Consistency in your message and branding.
Optimizing your menu design to emphasize items you know to sell well.
Flexibility of service made easier with tableside ordering tablets. Servers can send tickets straight to the kitchen, improving turn times, or guests can self-order for a more authentic experience.
Pay heed to dietary restrictions.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, but customer retention means paying attention to the needs of your specific base and filling that niche.
Feedback is a critical aspect of customer retention. It’s important to reply to reviews; you should ask guests to review their meal when they pay or leave feedback when submitting an online order. When there’s a negative review, remain professional: Reply privately and apologize for the inconvenience, and take the opportunity to explain how you’ve improved since their last visit. You can turn poor experiences into good ones by offering them a chance to come back and see the changes you’ve made to make sure it never happens again. Just like that, you have a customer for life.
Loyal customers create user-generated content, or UGC, about your brand that you shouldn’t miss. Thank them for their photo and patronage, repost what they made, engage with your customers on a deeper level to generate guest loyalty. Connecting and communicating online will deepen your customer relationships.
Social media is also a chance to show off your brand. Create a compelling story around your mission, history, and team to tease out an emotional response in your follower. Show off your human side: Post your back of house team enjoying their work, happy customers, videos of your cooks making favorite recipes, delicious photos of food, and more.
One of the best ways to increase customer retention is to incentivize returns. Rewards programs are a great way to do it. In the past, businesses had to rely on punch cards to get the job done, but those were so easily lost or damaged that it negatively impacted the customer experience when they never got that promised tenth coffee free.
Now loyalty programs are digitized. Pick rewards that are frequently administered and easy to achieve, and advanced Point of Sale technology will automatically apply the points to their next order. Customer profiles help guests quickly reorder old favorites from their mobile device, but they’re also a valuable database of information that you can use to tailor your marketing campaigns to customers’ specific interests.
Customer Retention Moving Forward
As the world gets more digital and technology advances ever-forward, your online presence will continue to play a significant role in your reputation. Take time to understand your customers’ needs and preferences, and find unique ways to give them exactly what they want. Show your guests that you care and improve your reputation when you focus on customer retention.
Smarter Point of Sales can help, with the ability to track sales data and analyze automatic reports, you can get more valuable customer information than ever before.