Regular customers are the heart of your restaurant business. They’re the ones who come in over and over again, sharing information about your restaurant with others and encouraging them to eat there, too. Turning first-time customers into regulars is a profitable way to encourage further business at your restaurant.
Build Opportunities to Reconnect
Customers come into your restaurant for a relatively short period of time. While they’re there, you want to do your best to build a relationship with them. That includes:
- Using multiple opportunities to discuss specials, take their drinks, and share information about special events.
- Making sure each table knows the server who is responsible for taking care of them.
- Making eye contact, staying friendly, and chatting with customers, even on a busy night when it’s hard to keep up with everything.
Make It Memorable
Your town is filled with restaurants. Turning your restaurant into the place people want to visit, whether it’s for a Friday night date or a mid-week stop on the way to another activity, means making each visit memorable. There are several strategies that can help you make your restaurant stand out from the rest.
- Send them off with a souvenir, whether it’s a business card, a pen, or a copy of your menu.
- Make the last bit count: the perfect after-dinner coffee, the ideal dessert, or a final interaction with the customers.
- Do something special. Set your restaurant apart by offering a signature dish like no one else’s, creating a unique ambiance, or offering a different kind of special.
- Make sure that it’s obvious where customers are. Set your restaurant’s name in their minds so that they’ll remember where that perfect dish they’re craving came from!
Your customers should know what to expect every time they walk through the door of your restaurant.
Keep the Experience Constant
Your customers should know what to expect every time they walk through the door of your restaurant. If your food is excellent one time and so-so the next, it’s hard to encourage customers to keep coming back. Excellent service should always be paramount. There are several ways to encourage this consistent experience for every customer, every time.
- Specifically train each new employee who comes through your restaurant. Make sure they know exactly what’s expected. When realistic, allow them to shadow another employee who is already in their position.
- Create clear guidelines and directions to ensure that each process is easy to follow. When possible, write them down so that employees can reference them when they need them.
- Discuss proper tone and attitude with regards to customer service. Young people, in particular, may struggle to speak respectfully simply because it’s something they’ve never been taught.
As you work to increase your repeat customer base, you’ll find that your restaurant flourishes as never before. Your customers will love finding out what you’re offering next, checking out your new dishes, and coming back for their old favorites time and time again. Your serving staff will get to know those regulars, making a better experience for everyone.
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