There is no downside to customer loyalty. Perfect, so the next step is you get your customers to become more loyal. Sounds simple enough, right? But how?
One way is to use a good customer loyalty program, such as one integrated directly with your restaurant POS system.
What is a feasible way to drive higher customer retention?
Well, here are a few ways to increase your customer loyalty and overall profitability!
1. Know What Your Customers Want
You can look through Queries on Google Analytics or send out questionnaires through a specialized email marketing campaign!
Research is vital in learning what your customers want. If you use specific keywords in your website, such as “Best Happy Hour Near Me”, for example, and you find that most of the related search queries are for “Best Late Night Happy Hour”, then you may want to consider making changes in your website content and keywords. This will drive up organic website traffic.
Wonderful programs such as Word Stream or Google Analytics allow you to see what web users are typing into their search engines in order to find your ads or website. This will ensure that you have something that your customers actually want.
2. Always Have Amazing Customer Service
This is something that will turn customers away for good or have them coming back for more. People will not return to eat (and spend their money) at a restaurant or bar where they were not treated well. If you have a customer waiting and fail to say hi and let them know what's going on, or have rude waitstaff, this person might even go so far as to leave you a bad review. Reviews are also important because more good ones means more organic SEO for your company. This also counts as PR. Since it's free and done by a third party, people are more likely to trust a good review over an ad which drones on about how great your restaurant is.
The goal is to have them bringing their friends, too. Ensuring stellar customer service is a huge part of any company’s success. When a customer is not experiencing the best service possible in your hospitality establishment, then the odds aren’t in your favor for their return.
When you first hire an employee, they need thorough training in customer satisfaction. Train your employees upon hiring them, but also make sure to continue to train them as the company continues to evolve. Keep your staff ready for any situation, this will help them, the customer, and your business.
3. Create a Community People Want to Join
Word of mouth and good reviews should be a large focus for you. You have to make sure that people will remember the positive experience they had at your establishment.
Odds are, most clients will not think much about your business once they leave, so...
Create a lasting impression. There are so many concrete, creative ways to do this. Have a unique design to your restaurant, make sure the food and service are stellar, have t-shirts, matches, cups that they can take home for free or purchase. The ideas are endless. This will get you free PR and your customers will have a reminder that your company still exists. Make sure to jog their memories through email marketing and social media campaigns as well.
Which brings us to our next topic...
4. Focus on Email and Social Media Marketing
As Mary Lister notes in WordStream’s blog post 5 Ways to Earn & Build Customer Loyalty “Many retailers...send birthday emails and discounts during a customer’s birthday month. Everyone loves a birthday treat!” Mary is 100% right.
If you own a restaurant, bar, or nightclub, you need to be doing event-based email marketing. You could offer a free meal on special occasions, discounts, or a free drink to your loyal customers! Make the offer competitive, and something that they won’t want to resist.
As for social media, make your IG feed as aesthetically pleasing as possible. Have a cute backdrop in your restaurant or an interesting, post-worthy dish that they just can’t help but photograph. If you have an area in your restaurant that people are posing in front of and taking photos, it will end up online, naturally promoting your space. One such example is Louie Bossi's in Fort Lauderdale or Boca Raton, Florida. They have an appealing outdoor area with a moped, gazebo, and an amazing marble top bar. Restaurant-goers wait in line to get pictures in front of these pleasing aesthetic areas and post them all over the internet.
5. Retain Old Customers
Give away freebies at your restaurant and offer online discounts that will have customers rushing back to use their deals.
Many POS systems already have loyalty programs, and so does ours. Find one that gives you flexibility where you need it most and put it to good use. Typical traits that restaurant or bar owners look for in a pos loyalty program include: points-based rewards, a dollars spent to points earned ratio, a flat fee for the program, opt-in options, email and text reminders, rewards points lookup, among other features. Find one you like and stick with it.
Your customers will thank you!
6. Ask for Feedback, Suggestions, and Reviews.
Or that you hosted private events?
Hear what they have to say, listen to what it means or what they want, and follow-through. This could lead to more profitability and eventually a larger, more loyal customer base. Now, it might not always be possible to do exactly what your customer wants, but compromise where you can. If a customer wished you had shirts available for sale and you notice a demand, start selling shirts with the logo on them. If a customer wished you would start selling unique fondant cakes an your establishment is in a bar, then maybe hold off. Be flexible but do what works for you.
If it is something you want to implement, then make sure you market it. This way customers can see that what they say matters.
Always remember that quality customers are typically more valuable than quantity. but nothing is as good as both.
Sloane Viner graduated from FAU with degrees in English and Communication. She is a Florida native invested in spending her free days writing, exploring, and enjoying the great outdoors.