The restaurant business is built on good food, a great atmosphere and impeccable service, but customer loyalty is a major driving force that can put a restaurant on the fast-track to success. If you’re looking to build stronger, longer-lasting relationships with your guests, win their loyalty and keep them coming back, consider these important tips.
Your restaurant may have the best filet mignon in town, but more and more, it is the service that keeps customers coming back. If a staff member is dismissive, forgetful or slow, guests may leave with a soured impression and may post a negative review online. One way to ensure you are consistently providing quality service is to have a manager present in the dining room at all times. The manager can provide immediate assistance and feedback to staff members and communicate directly with guests.
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Social media is far-reaching, extremely influential and, in most cases, completely free. Greater numbers of restaurants have adapted aggressive social media strategies, and those that haven’t may have trouble catching up to their media savvy competition. Using popular social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+, restaurant owners can post pictures of cuisine, décor and smiling, happy guests as well as information about special deals and discounts.
A number of social media sites, such as Urban Spoon and Yelp, are dedicated to foodservice exclusively. These sites are among tech news site Mashable’s "Top 15 Social Media Resources for Foodies." Also popular are review sites that allow customers to post positive or negative feedback about their restaurant experiences, like TripAdvisor. Because so many diners base their decisions on what they read online, particularly on social media sites, it’s advantageous when a restaurateur is present and communicating with guests on the Internet.
Buzztime, a social, mobile entertainment platform for the restaurant industry, suggests that restaurant owners use email and texts in addition to social media to inform guests about deals, daily specials and special events. Buzztime listed online presence as one of eight ways to create customer loyalty.
Your guests want to be rewarded for being faithful to your restaurant. This may be a matter of paying special attention to them, greeting them by name, or perhaps giving them a free drink or side item every now and then. Recognizing your loyal guests can strengthen their loyalty. Guests will begin visiting your establishment more often because they feel included, and more importantly, they will tell their friends about your restaurant.
Food Service Warehouse said increased customer loyalty may be “the one marketing goal with the most potential to improve profits.” Regular guests are great for business because they are likely to spend more money than other diners, and they will keep coming back. A restaurant owner should always remember the power of word of mouth, according to Food Service Warehouse. “Since they are likely to tell their friends about your restaurant, frequent customers are your best resource for marketing.”