WHY DIVE INTO CUSTOMER RETENTION TECHNIQUES?
It’s your bottom line: A repeat customer spends up to 67% more than a new customer², and 65% of a company’s business comes from its existing customer base³.
Cheaper than attracting new customers: Grabbing a new diner’s attention means conquering the competition, spending more marketing dollars, and putting in time creating advertising materials. All of these take away from your restaurant profits.
Existing customers will do the marketing for you: 86% of diners will try a new restaurant just based on a recommendation from family or a significant other, and 81% from coworkers or friends⁴.
HOW TO GET REPEAT CUSTOMERS?
Let’s get into the techniques to get the repeat customers your business needs.
BEFRIEND YOUR REGULARS
Customers love being an insider. If you form a relationship with them, they’re likely to spend up to 67% more⁵.
Be attentive, friendly, and responsive: Always be appreciative of customer needs and feedback, treating them like honored guests.
Keep staff knowledgeable: Arm your staff with what they need to know so they can answer questions, offer recommendations, and handle concerns or issues.
Personalize experiences: Bespoke experiences make customers feel valued and important.
Remember and celebrate special occasions. Birthdays, anniversaries, and milestones are great opportunities to offer complimentary desserts, drinks, or individualized notes.
CREATE EXCLUSIVE EXPERIENCES AND OFFERS
Let servers comp a drink or appetizer. Send out an “Insiders Only” discount. Throw a friends and family event, especially for new menu tastings. Implement a loyalty program to reward repeat customers with discounts, freebies, or exclusive perks — it’s a great way to retain customers and foster a sense of belonging.
ENCOURAGE REGULARS TO POST
If you’re testing a new dish or hosting an event, consider asking your repeat customers to post to their social media — and engage with them when they do by replying to comments, reviews, and messages. You can even try getting their opinion on a post you’re about to make.
TRAIN STAFF TO RECOGNIZE REGULARS
Make sure your FOH staff can pick regulars out by face or name, so they can communicate to BOH about the best ways to personalize their experience. Remembering a customer’s name, dietary restrictions, favorite dishes, preferred seating, and more can go a long way. Better yet, maintain this info in a database easily accessible by staff.
And encourage staff to actively use a customer’s name during interactions to create a personal connection and make it easier to remember next time.
BE ACTIVE IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Community engagement can demonstrate to customers that you’re committed to strengthening the area you operate in. Sponsoring local events, supporting charities, or collaborating with other local businesses can foster positive word-of-mouth recommendations.
KEEP YOUR CUSTOMERS CLOSE
It’s an honor to be a customer’s favorite restaurant. With retention techniques, you can win over your regulars to become their go-to place. The upsides are repeat visits, great word-of-mouth, honest feedback, strong relationships, and community building. The downsides? There are none.