With over 600,000 restaurants in the United States, restaurateurs need to be strategic to make sure customers turn into repeat diners. As much as a restaurateur wants new customers, returning business is just as important. According to HubSpot, repeat customers spend 67% more than first time guests. This means it is crucial to keep your diners happy and coming back for more. But how is this done? How can customers be enticed to not go astray? Follow along for five tips to keep customer retention at an all-time high.
Enticing Loyalty Programs
This might be an obvious one, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Loyalty programs are an easy way to keep customers returning to your restaurant. In fact, 79% of consumers look for deals and rewards from loyalty programs before making a purchase! First of all, to ensure that a loyalty program has success, you need to make sure all your customers know about it. Tell your customers about the rewards and incentives the program can provide and don’t forget to post about it on your social media platforms. Whether you use an app like Belly, or a ‘Buy 5 get one free’ card, people are excited to work toward a complimentary item. Even something as simple as a free appetizer on a customer’s birthday will make the consumer think of you around their special day. Loyalty programs drive repeat business and provide a simple way to keep customers engaged and excited about returning.
Fun & Interactive Events
Another way to increase repeat business is by hosting events or theme nights at your restaurant. People like to have a reason to go out to dinner and hosting a theme night or event is the perfect excuse. You can even make it a weekly or monthly tradition. For example, you can host live music every other Thursday with local bands, Sunday night Bingo with free giveaways, or themed trivia nights. Offering something extra can draw customers to you on a more frequent basis. Make sure to post about these events on your Facebook page and send out blast emails reminding your customers what you have going on for the week. People are coming to your restaurant to socialize and events are a great way for them to do that. Turn a regular dinner into a night to remember!
Top-Notch Customer Service
Customer service is a pivotal factor in making sure customers become repeat diners. This all starts with a first impression. Whether someone has stumbled across your restaurant for the first time or it was recommended by one of their friends, it is critical to make sure each and every guest has a great first impression of the restaurant, the staff, and the food. Customer service should be a no-brainer but it often gets disregarded in the peak restaurant hours of a dinner or lunch rush. According to a study by American Express, Americans tell an average of 15 people about a poor service experience, versus the 11 people they’ll tell about a good experience. It is important to remember that it can take one incident to lose out on a repeat diner. But, if something happens to not go as planned, which is a possibility, you don’t have to count it as an immediate loss. You can regain a customer’s loyalty with a simple apology or free appetizer/dessert. People like to feel acknowledged and a little often goes a long way.
Attractive Food & Drink Specials
Similar to how events give customers a reason to visit your restaurant again, food and drink specials are also great ways to keep diners returning. Happy hours, discounted late night food, and drink specials on specified days can help entice larger crowds. The key to this is to find your niche and create specials that keep customers returning for new and exciting items. For example, if you run a Mexican restaurant, create new, flavored margaritas each month and offer them at a discount on Wednesdays only. If your repeat customers love your margaritas, they'll go out of their way to try to get there on Wednesday. Make sure to post pictures of your specials on your social media pages like Facebook and Instagram. If a customer follows you on one of these platforms and sees a special you have for that night, it can be that push they need to eat at your restaurant again.
Smart & Strategic Online Marketing
In today’s day and age, people are engaged with social media and the web both at home and on the go, so it is crucial to use this to your advantage. The Internet has proved as an easy source to stay engaged with your current and past customers. Use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to run contests, remind followers of events, and post pictures of your food and specials. These platforms are also great tools to make customers feel special. Thanking your customers when they share your post or follow you and replying back to their messages and comments are simple and fast ways to make sure your customers are aware that you notice them. You can also email customers with a monthly newsletter, a special offer, or just a list of upcoming events. Test out some different email blasts and track the open rates and click rates to find out what your customers are interested in. When a customer feels engaged, they are more likely to return to your restaurant.
Customer retention is a challenging yet essential part of making sure your restaurant succeeds. Businesses that grow their customer retention rates by as little as 5% typically see profit an increase ranging from 25% to 95%. Loyalty programs, events, A+ customer service, specials, and online marketing tactics are all simple ways to ensure your customers become repeat diners. Keep an eye out for new technology that can help you boost customer retention as well. You always should stay in the know and ahead of the latest trends that can help your business boom and keep customers returning night after night.
Interested in learning more about customer retention? Don't miss our blog about Customer Lifetime Value here.
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