As nice as it is to see fresh faces coming through your doors, your repeat customers are the lifeblood of your restaurant. Sources indicate that while repeat customers on average make up just 15 percent of your total patrons, they contribute 30 percent of revenues.
If you haven’t yet given much thought to developing a crowd of regulars, discover five things you can do to attract repeat restaurant customers.
1. Build a Rapport with Regulars. Encourage staff to pay attention to who’s coming in to eat and to establish a rapport with frequent guests. This can be as simple as greeting regulars by name and with a friendly “Great to have you with us again!” Customers appreciate — and will remember — the little things that help the total dining experience stand out.
Take it one step further by keeping tabs on what your regulars like to order. Whether it’s the shaken-not-stirred triple-olive martini or the medium-well T-bone steak with mushrooms, you can attract repeat restaurant customers by knowing their favorites even before they ask. Even if they choose a different menu item on that visit, they’ll be happy to know you’ve been paying attention.
2. Customers Love Loyalty. Here’s another great way to attract repeat restaurant customers: Make your dining experience rewarding. Establish a loyalty program, either through manual punch cards or scannable plastic cards that incentivize patrons to frequent your eatery and earn rewards for reaching a preset spending threshold or completing a certain number of transactions.
Be creative with how to reward your loyal guests. Think outside the “free dessert” box (though most people won’t pass up a sweet treat on the house!). Consider offering a complimentary bottle of wine to a loyal customer who always has her glass full or a behind-the-scenes kitchen tour for the diehard foodie. Engaging patrons with creative, thoughtful rewards can help you to attract repeat restaurant customers by giving them something they’ll be motivated to work towards.
3. Get Social. If you haven’t already, get involved with social media, whether it’s Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or Twitter (or all of the above). In our increasingly socially connected world, it’s important to meet customers where they are — and engage in the conversations they’re already having about your restaurant.
Retweet their kind words about your to-die-for cheddar biscuits, share their perfectly prepped Instagram posts about your killer brisket burger (#getinmybelly), “like” their shout out to your bottomless mimosa brunch. Sharing your customers’ content demonstrates that you appreciate their patronage and can help them to feel like a VIP.
4. Stellar Service. There are three things that make or break a restaurant experience: food, ambiance, and service. To attract repeat restaurant customers, be sure to have that best service around. Hire bright, capable employees who are eager to extend your brand to patrons. Beyond greeting each customer who enters your establishment, waiters and servers must be attentive to your diners’ needs, refilling water glasses without prompting and following up between courses to ensure that guests are satisfied — or address and correct any snafus before a not-so-nice Yelp review pops up.
Many a customer will quickly forget how great the lasagna was if they have to spend half their evening flagging down a waitress. Make service your differentiator and watch your repeat business grow.
5. The Convenience Factor: Online Ordering. We’ve all had those days when we want great restaurant-quality food, just in the comfort of our own homes, or perhaps on the go. Give your customers the option of ordering online and consider offering the added convenience of curbside pickup, so guests don’t even have to leave their car (great for busy parents chauffeuring the kids). By giving your diners multiple ways to get their hands on your fare, you’re practically guaranteed to attract repeat restaurant customers.
Try following one or all of these tips to drum up the regulars who will sustain your business through thick and thin, and it won’t be long before you’re on a first-name basis with a host of familiar faces.