Despite a 10% increase in service scores, restaurants are failing to bring back customers. Why is that? It’s not that guests aren’t enjoying themselves - when asked about their experience, most will say that they were satisfied. But when asked if they planned on returning, relatively few said that they would. The number of customers who actually do return is even smaller, as plans change and fall through. So how do you turn a new customer into a regular? Here are some ideas:
Create a customer loyalty program
The most direct way to have customers return is to have some kind of incentive. We all have those frozen yogurt stamp cards that we never remember to bring back, but having a similar program - where customers are working towards some kind of reward - benefits both parties. Implementing a customer loyalty program may help boost retention rates.
Offer different promos or coupons based on how often customers visit different locations, order online, or use your app. Getting a salad or sandwich for lunch could be worth a certain point value, while ordering take-out could be worth another. As points (and usage) add up, customers will be back for more!
Explore alternatives to waiting in line
Wait time is a prominent factor when considering where to eat. 93% of consumers have reportedly left or walked past a restaurant if there is a long line, but a majority said that they would be more inclined to stay if they received communications or alerts about exactly how long their wait would be. Let your guests know how long they should expect to wait. Clear communication up front, along with periodic updates, will help prevent frustration and walk-outs.
You may also want to consider an online waitlist to reduce the amount of time spent waiting in person. Have guests without a reservation call ahead or notify via an app that they would like to be added to the queue.
If there is still a considerable wait for seating, many people noted that they’d be willing to stick it out if there was some kind of entertainment while they waited. This could include live music, allowing them to order from the bar, or having activities for restless kids - maybe even offering benefits from your new customer loyalty program!
Host private events
Guests can have their cake and eat it too! From baby showers to birthdays, customers may want to use your restaurant as the location for their next celebration. People will be laughing, enjoying themselves, and creating memories - all tied to the tastes and atmosphere of your space. Make sure they have a great time, and have some faith in the power of word-of-mouth.
Event hosts and guests alike will remember the delicious food and wonderful ambiance of your restaurant!