Repeat customers are so valuable. Not only do regular customers spread the word of your restaurant’s amazing food and service, but for your business, repeat customers are less expensive than new customers. After all, to reach new customers you need to spend time and money to market your restaurant.
However, maintaining a group of repeat customers can be a challenge. You want to keep them happy with the classic food and service they love, but you don’t want them to get bored and move on. Read our top tips for attracting and maintaining a regular client base at your restaurant.
Tip 1: Keep Your Quality Consistent
Although you might want to mix up your nightly special to prevent boredom, you never want to skimp on quality. While customers might not like every single dish you offer on your specialty menu, they should never question the quality of the food you serve them. To ensure you’re not getting food of poor quality, restaurant owners and managers need to maintain relationships with their suppliers and ingredient sources. These relationships will prove to be valuable if you ever come across an issue with your food quality.
Tip 2: Create Personal Connections with Customers
While the size of your restaurant will play a big part in the personal connections you’re able to make with customers, don’t underestimate the role these connections play with your regular customer base. Creating personal connections can happen all over the restaurant. For example, your host might greet your customers by name or their server could already know their drink order. These actions might not seem like a lot because they are so low effort, but they can have a big impact.
If you’re in a small restaurant, these connections will be infinitely easier to make and should happen naturally. However, in large restaurants, you will need to make an effort and go a little out of your way to learn more about your most valuable customers.
Tip 3: Reward Your Repeat Customers
Restaurants and other dining establishments across the country are implementing different types of repeat diner programs that reward their most frequent customers. There are dozens of different software options that you can use to text or email your customers based on a variety of customizable logics.
For example, if you had a customer that came every week for a month, and then stopped coming, you could send them a text for a $10 off coupon in hopes of enticing them back. Or if your software tracks what your customers specifically ordered, you could contact them if you had a special involving their favorite dish.
No matter how you implement your repeat customer program, your customers will surely notice the effort—and you will notice the effects.
Tip 4: Provide Outstanding Service
If you always provide outstanding service, your customers will return. However, this can also be one of the most difficult things to control. Servers will have varying degrees of experience and will all have their own way of doing things. To ensure that your customers are given the attention and service they need, no matter who’s serving them, you should hire experienced servers and provide regular training.
Not only should your training program cover mandated health and safety topics, but you should also customize it to include topics specific to your restaurant. For instance, if you expect your servers to check with their tables every 10 minutes or refill their customers’ glasses when they’re halfway gone, you should cover these specifics in an orientation training.
Tip 5: Encourage Feedback
Although sometimes it’s difficult to hear, feedback is often one of the only ways a restaurant can improve. By providing an easy way for your customers to provide feedback and always making an effort to improve on their suggestions, you will be catering your restaurant to your customers and giving them no reason not to return.
There are plenty of ways you can request feedback from your customers, such as the classic feedback cards or you can try newer texting programs. No matter what type of program you introduce to your restaurant, the most important part is following up with customers individually to discuss their feedback further. You want to make sure they know their comments didn’t end up in a black hole. Even better, if you can guarantee the customer a change, they will be sure to come back to see if you followed through.
Ensure Food Safety with Training
Although there is no foolproof or one-size-fits-all plan to encourage repeat customers at your restaurant, we hope these tips have given you ideas you can implement in your restaurant. Of course, before you start any new initiatives you should make sure your entire staff is up-to-date on their mandated state and federal food handler training. Additionally, as a manager, you should complete your Food Manager Certification to ensure the safest restaurant environment possible. Sign up today!