Restaurant Loyalty: 7 Tips for Building a Loyal Customer Base

By Tricia Hoy

Customer loyalty is a critical success factor for any restaurant. This has never been more apparent than in the past several years, where you have had to fight harder for a share of your guests’ limited disposable income.

Loyalty matters. Selling more to current customers is easier, and cheaper, than finding and selling to new ones. Your current customers also tend to buy more, more often. And they are more likely to recommend your restaurant to their friends and family.

So what can you do to build loyalty? Here are seven ways you can engage and reward guests:

1. Tap into what your guests want. To really show your appreciation, you need to first understand your customers’ motivations. Do your research: pay attention to trends and make decisions based on that research. A few weeks ago we shared more on this in Consumer Trends in the Restaurant Industry: what do your Guests Really Want?.

2. Know (and reward) your brand ambassadors. It’s easy to spot a customer who appreciates you and your brand. They’re the ones posting on your Facebook page, tweeting you when they’ve had a good experience, and visiting your restaurant enough that they’ve become a familiar name and face. Appreciate them by remembering, and making a point of treating them well.

3. Reward your superstars. A rewards program is a great way to appreciate loyal guests, and promote new ones. A customer can earn points for future purchases, or even a free meal after spending a set amount. You can track this in your point of sale software too: For more information on SpeedLine loyalty options, check out Restaurant Loyalty Programs.

4. Provide loyalty rewards on Facebook. With a simple signup form, you can enroll new loyalty members right on your Facebook page. And even sweeter? You can also add menu and online ordering capabilities to your page.

5. Sweeten the pot for those that share. Consider offering additional rewards to those that are connected: Facebook ‘shares’ and Twitter ‘re-tweets’ are easily tracked, and a great word-of-mouth tool for your restaurant.

6. Encourage bouncebacks. For new customers, a simple way to encourage a repeat visit is to offer an incentive or a ‘bounceback’ offer. Although first impressions are important, to convert first-time visitors to more regular guests, you need them to visit more than once.

7. Work your database. Database marketing to existing customers is one of the most cost-effective tools in your POS marketing toolbox.

Loyal guests are the bread and butter of your business. Taking the time to ensure that you do all you can to win, and keep, their loyalty should be a priority in your business plan. Are you using any of these ideas in your restaurants now?


Posted on Tue, May 21, 2013 @ 13:05 PM.
Updated on June 30, 2020 @ 10:37 PM PST.

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Tags: customer loyalty, Restaurant Marketing

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