In the bar and restaurant industry, what’s more valuable than new customers is the ability to turn them into long-term, repeat patrons. According to a statistic in a Food Service Warehouse article, The Race for Long-Term Customer Loyalty, loyal customers spend 67 percent more than new ones, making it in your bar or restaurant’s best interest to focus on customer retention.
If you’ve been strategizing about how to increase your customer retention rates, here are four tried and true ways to turn your new customers into loyal guests for years to come.
1) Perfect the guest experience:
The single most important thing to do to ensure your customers remain loyal to your brand is to make the guest experience as perfect as possible. Certainly, no restaurant can be perfect all of the time, but there are ways to minimize negative guest experiences. Excellent service, quality, atmosphere and cleanliness are among the hallmarks of every restaurant business. Go to every expense to make sure there are no flaws in any of these core areas. Invest in your staff with a consistent and thorough training program. Reward your service staff members who go above and beyond to exceed customer expectations. Simplify menus, staff your restaurant appropriately for rush times. Organize the kitchen layout to be more efficient in order to avoid unnecessary service delays or poor/inconsistent food quality.
2) Offer a loyalty rewards program:
Rewards programs are an important way to incentivize your customers to keep coming back in as well as thank them for their patronage. For instance, research conducted by FastCasual found in one 4-store study that across all order types (dine in, delivery, to go and pick up) the loyalty members spent an average of $2.14 more per transaction, even after accounting for all the discounts or rewards they may have applied to the order. Digital loyalty programs make it easy to track your customers’ purchases and accrued rewards, while making it easier for guests to benefit from these programs by doing away with plastic reward cards that often get lost, forgotten and unused. The keys to a successful loyalty program are 1) offering rewards that guests find meaningful, 2) making it easy for customers to use their loyalty cards and redeem rewards 3) making the programs easy and efficient for bars and restaurants to manage and administer.
3) Build personal relationships with your customers:
Your loyal, return customers like to feel special and important, part of your restaurant family. Every staff member, whether it’s the bartender, greeter or server needs to make building relationships with your regular customers a top priority. That means having the Executive Chef, owner or manager make special visits to their table to see how they’re doing, or perhaps, showing extra gratitude by preparing special off-menu dishes based on their unique preferences. Giving loyal guests that sense of being a VIP in your restaurant will only further endear them to your brand.
4) Solve issues with your loyal customers before they become bigger problems:
This is where making regular customer feedback a priority comes in. The sooner you know there is a problem with your guest, especially someone who is a loyal customer, the sooner you can intervene before it escalates to something bigger. Regularly pass out guest cards for their feedback and make sure the data is being captured and analyzed on a regular basis.
With these four simple approaches, you’ll be seeing improvements in your customer retention numbers in no time.