Us these low-risk, high-return strategies on how to improve customer loyalty without breaking a sweat
What does customer loyalty mean to you?
Traditionally, restaurant managers focus a majority of their time acquiring new business. Although an investment in customer acquisition serves a critical purpose, too much emphasis can take way attention from the valuable business you (already) have in place, particularly in customer loyalty.
That’s because your reoccurring patrons are not only likely to come in more often, but also spend more than 67% when compared to newly acquired customers. Neglecting focus from loyal customers is not just a poor marketing decision, but also threatens the continuity of your restaurant. Given that a 5% added investment in customer retention can increase profit by up to 95%, prioritizing customer loyalty over new business is not only logical, it’s essential.
Building an effective customer loyalty strategy derives from a combination of factors, but none may be more important than developing unique and meaningful relationships. Here are 4 easy, inexpensive and effective strategies to grow customer loyalty for your restaurant.
1.) Boost Customer Loyalty with a Cause
A restaurant with a conscious finger on local issues and world events can influence loyalty instantaneously. Implementing a strategy that supports relevant and important subjects not only reconciles customers’ spending but also is a great way to connect with customers without saying much.
There are endless ways to engage with customers via support of local, national and world causes. For example:
- 1% if every transaction goes to the Faith, Food and the Environment foundation for research and development into sustainable foods
- Display visible support for Mothers Against Drunk Driving near the bar area
- Your staff could volunteer at a local fundraising event and post pictures on social media
Example: One of Atlanta’s most widely regarded restaurants, StapleHouse, provides emergency grants to local restaurant workers that need funds for health-related issues.
2.) Send something your Customers Didn’t Ask
If a customer takes an interest to come back to your restaurant more than once, it’s only fair to return the favor. So, why not go beyond the realm of normalcy and send a loyal customer something he or she would have never expected.
No, I’m not talking about a free desert or a neighborhood discount.
If you want to really impress your loyal guests, send them something when your restaurant is not top of mind; in other words, a token of appreciation (i.e., gift) via the mail.
Here are some ideas for sending gifts:
- Look at their photos on social media to see if there are any obvious hobbies or activities they enjoy
- Look to see if there are any sports teams, movies, games, books, music, etc., they are interested in
- Look to spark up a conversation during dining and listen to see what is happening in their life
Example: Although not in the food and hospitality space, General Eclectic’s social media team sent one of their loyal customers Batman gear due to comic book interest found on his profile:
3.) Emphasize “the Story”
What makes the Titanic, Wizard of Oz, and Gone with the Wind so memorable?
We, as humans, are inherently drawn to great stories. When food and ingredients are brought to life via story, people listen and develop a personal connection to what’s on their plate. This connection stays with the customer long after the meal has finished—and because of this—brings them back for more.
That’s why it is important to spend time with your staff and develop a story that translates into something almost poetic.
Filling the void as to how food gets to the customer’s plate speaks to your passion, your knowledge and willingness to teach others. Qualities of a restaurant that is not only rare but establish a reoccurring clientele of novice culinary connoisseurs.
4.) Value your Servers…Authentically
They are no greater brand ambassadors than those working inside your restaurant. Happy staff translates to a not only better quality product or service, but also higher sales. They are also the most likely to spread the good word about your restaurant if they’re happy at the workplace.
Customers are a lot more intuitive than we can ever give them credit for and are many times susceptible to the energy the wait staff gives off. When things are not going well in the waiter’s mind, it’s likely guest don’t feel too happy as well.
Your wait staff isn’t asking for unlimited PTO, or complimentary breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They are simply asking for a little positive reinforcement and a manager than can connect with them that dives a little deeper than a simple “hello” and “goodbye.” I’m not saying to be best friends with your wait staff, but rather, value them to a higher level than “staff” and demonstrate you are personally invested in their wellbeing.
What are your experiences with customer loyalty? Share your secrets to success in the comment section below.