5 Ways You Can Improve Customer Retention in Your Restaurant

Business.com / Industry / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Discover some of the best ways to improve any existing restaurant business through customer perks, incentives and business management tools.

To maintain a successful restaurant business, it’s important to cultivate valuable relationships with loyal customers.

If you’ve found your restaurant unable to capture repeat business, it’s time to take a look at what you might be doing wrong and determine the extra steps you can take to ensure each and every customer wants to come back.

Check out these simple ways to improve customer loyalty and see your profits reap the benefits. 

Rewards Offerings

Using rewards systems to secure customer loyalty is an old tactic, but it’s an effective one. There are many loyalty program options for restaurant owners to choose from. Make sure that the program you choose is supported by your POS System before investing, as it will help you accumulate invaluable customer data.

Your rewards system might offer discounts, earning points, or free gifts with purchase; determine what your target patron would most enjoy and implement the system as quickly as possible. Check out Flok or a similar loyalty program and see how offering benefits for coming into your restaurant can affect your bottom line.  

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Offer Premium Customer Service

There are few things as important as customer service in the restaurant industry. Take a step back and consider the customer service you currently offer in your establishment; are there ways you can improve? Have you received negative customer feedback? Regardless of how amazing your food is, if your wait staff provides a less-than-satisfactory experience for your customers, you can rest assured they won’t be returning. To improve your customer service, take steps to ensure each guest feels valued and appreciated the moment they walk through your door.

Host regular training with wait staff to ensure your customer service standards are taught and met, and consider new staff if you’ve received numerous complaints about employees already on your roster. Always be sure you have enough staff to handle your restaurant; being understaffed is a surefire way to have guests waiting longer than necessary to receive their food, which won’t bode well for their likelihood to return.  

Sell Alcohol

If you’ve decided against selling alcohol in your restaurant, it might be time to reconsider. Alcohol can be an essential part of the dining experience for many patrons, and most restaurants find that a significant portion of their overall profits is due to alcohol sales. Whether it was too competitive to secure an alcohol permit in your area or you’re morally hesitant to put alcohol on the menu, forgoing this offering can negatively impact your business.

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If you’ve avoided the issue because of the cost and competition of getting a license, consider at least partial offerings of alcohol on the menu. If you do decide to expand your menu to adult beverages, consider starting small. Beer and wine licenses are generally the cheapest to procure and will appease the general population of alcohol lovers, and tend to be easier to come by.  

Focus on Your Specialties

Not all restaurants can pull off The Cheesecake Factory’s success of offering a menu the size of a small novel. If your menu is too large in scope, your customers will generally be confused. The longer it takes them to get through your menu, the more money you lose as it extends their dining experience, putting more pressure on your wait staff and taking up valuable table space, especially during busy hours. Focus on the things your customers most often order and rave about. This will help you better carve out your niche and make it easier for consumers to recommend their great dining experience to family and friends.

Make the World a Better Place

Customers are becoming more socially conscious, and they expect the businesses they frequent to do the same. This is especially true for younger generations, and if your target demographic involves millennials, it’s important to dip your toe into the philanthropic realm.

Customers are more willing to support establishments that they believe are making a difference. One easy way to do this is to support local organizations. You might donate food regularly to a local shelter, take a night a week to have your wait staff volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or host fundraising nights like Panera to support local causes.

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These are some of the top ways restaurant owners are able to attract more customers, and more importantly, keep them coming back. Consider which of these might benefit your restaurant business and implement as soon as possible to see the profits come rolling in.

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