This article was originally published on the ChowNow Blog.
Do you remember the last time you walked into a new business and something compelled you to return? What did the business do to make you feel that way? Building a loyal customer base for your restaurant business is mostly about stepping into your customer’s shoes. Check out these tips on how to turn a first-time customer into a loyal regular.
1. You gotta give loyalty to get it
Nothing attracts a first-time customer to come back quite like a great loyalty program. A restaurant loyalty program that offers discounts and free-add ons is an effective way to show your appreciation for repeat visitors. However, it’s important to go about it in an authentic and “non-salesy” way. Avoid charging customers for loyalty programs and make the process as uncomplicated as possible. Also, customers are constantly inundated by loyalty program offerings so make yours fun and memorable. Create an interesting game or encourage them to share personal food stories on social media with a hashtag.
This is a great way to cultivate positive brand awareness resulting in a string of repeat orderers lining up at your door!
2. Never skimp on service
This is a no-brainer but it’s the most important item on this list. There’s a famous quote that says, “people will forget what you said, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” This is especially true in the restaurant industry.
Customers have hundreds of options when deciding where they should eat and while perks such as loyalty programs and affordable prices will get them through the door, bad service is sure to make them turn back around.
Fast, friendly and empathic service is key to building a loyal customer base who will spread the good news about your tasty establishment. Offering customers ways to make their experience even easier and more efficient is another way to offer top-notch service. Restaurants such as The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen utilize ChowNow’s online food ordering system. They say that the service “gives their customers a really easy way to order, pay, and pick up their food so they can beat the line and beat the lunch rush.”
3. Promote the feeling of community
While the decor and ambience of your restaurant is one way to make a customer feel at home, creating an atmosphere of community and connection are the x-factors that keep them coming back. Hosting events such as Taco Tuesdays and lively happy hours promote the feeling of community that will encourage customers to invite their friends and family to join in the fun. This can also create an atmosphere of consistency for customers by ensuring that they will have a memorable and quality experience when they walk into your restaurant.
4. Be easily accessible
It’s important to stay relevant and accessible to your customers, especially in our hyper-paced, technology-driven world. Offering alternative options such as online ordering and being available via food delivery apps are a couple of ways to do this. Additionally, establishing a strong presence on social media channels such as Yelp and Facebook are ways to stay relevant and connected to your customer base.
This takes your efforts to offer convenience and accessibility even one step further by allowing customers to place and personalize their order on the go.
Turning a customer into a repeat restaurant customers more an art than a science. It’s a combination of factors that produces a wonderful dining experience. This experience is what makes your restaurant memorable and can turn a one-time visitor into a valuable, long-term customer.