There’s never been a better time to look at your restaurants marketing strategy. When government policy changes and restaurants allow customers through their doors once again you need to be ready to hit the ground running.
Did you know that it is five times cheaper to keep an existing customer than it is to try and to bring in a new one?
With this in mind, doing all you can at your restaurant to keep customers happy is a great tactic to encourage retention, as well as keep your profits healthy.
The added bonus? Happy customers can be the best advocates for your restaurant, sharing fantastic photos of your food on social media and encouraging their friends and family to come and visit.
Although we are currently in lockdown, these five tips will help you prepare for when your restaurant is ready to reopen to all your customers!
1. Introduce a loyalty programme
Introducing a loyalty or rewards programme to your restaurant can increase customer lifetime value by up to 30%.
Why do loyalty programmes work? It’s all down to simple psychology – we’re motivated by rewards and will keep coming back if there is the chance of getting something fantastic in return for our patronage.
The rewards you can offer depend on the type of restaurant you have and what your existing customers would like to see. For example:
- Offer a free cocktail or starter on a customer’s birthday
- Give loyal customers a complimentary dessert every time they come in and order a main meal
- If you run a café or takeaway facilities, give customers money off their coffee or snacks if they come in at a particular day or time – this can be a great way of encouraging business during quiet times
- Give people who sign up to your loyalty scheme a discount on their fifth or tenth meal with you
The possibilities are endless!
2. Keep in touch with your customers
It’s more important than ever to keep in touch with your customers, whether this is through social media, email marketing or text message. You can even go old-school and send a letter through the post!
According to Emarsys, four out of five businesses rely on email marketing to retain customers. This means the benefits of using marketing channels like this are definitely something your restaurant needs to consider, if you are not doing so already.
How can you keep in touch with your customers? Some ideas you can implement include:
- Include the links to your social media profiles in your branding, and encourage your customers to share photos of the food they order on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. User-generated content is a great way to acknowledge your loyal customers, as well as get free publicity!
- Ask your customers for their email address and use it to send them regular updates and offers. If you do this, don’t forget to keep their data safe in line with GDPR
- If you are launching a new menu, send an invite to your most loyal customers and ask them to come along to your launch night to sample your latest dishes
Speaking of launching a new menu…
3. Change up your menu regularly
One of the best compliments you can get from your customers is when they say ‘everything on the menu tastes so good!’ You can use this feedback to your advantage to get your customers coming back to visit you time and time again.
Introduce new dishes to your menu on a regular basis, making the most of delicious seasonal produce as well as brand new food trends. That way, you can entice regulars back to your restaurant to sample your brand new menu.
Don’t forget to tell your customers about the new dishes you have on offer, using the marketing channels we mentioned earlier!
4. Listen to feedback
We all like to know that we’re being listened to, whether that is by loved ones or businesses that we frequent. One of the ways you can improve retention is by listening to your customers and putting their requests into action.
Give visitors the option to provide feedback about their meal and experience, whether by phone, email, social media or face-to-face. You can then review the comments that come in and take action accordingly.
For example, if a couple of your customers would like more plant-based options, it’s an excellent opportunity to put more vegan dishes on your menu. Not only will this give customers more incentive to visit, but by responding to their feedback, you’ll have shown that you value what they have to say.
Only 52% of customers are confident that businesses will respond to their feedback, so by actioning what your loyal customers have to say, you’ll be well ahead of the curve!
5. Supercharge your customer service
People don’t just go to restaurants for food – they go for the experience and the ambience too. This means customers are more likely to return to a venue where they have a high-quality experience.
Use this as an opportunity to provide your customers with excellent customer service. Encourage your waiting staff to treat customers well and implement standards that you would like all staff to meet.
Treat your staff well too. Happier staff give better customer service and are more likely to stick around. Customers are more likely to come back to dine again if there are familiar waiting staff there to look after them and that know their precise needs.
According to Bain & Company, boosting your customer retention rate by just 5% can result in a 25% increase in profits. Not only are happy customers more likely to come back to your restaurant, but they are more likely to spend more money while they are there too.
We hope this article has given you insight into how you can get ready to improve your restaurant’s customer retention rates in time for reopening.
Take a look today at how you can improve the experience your customers receive, both in and out of your restaurant. It will help to encourage loyal customers to come back... again and again!