10 Tips On How To Encourage Repeat Custom At Your Restaurant

Regular customers should be your bread and butter business and every customer who comes into your restaurant is an opportunity for you to turn them into a repeat customer.  Attracting new customers might be easy for you to do but you should never be complacent.  In fact once you’ve attracted them and your restaurant is busy you should focus your energy into keeping them and encouraging them to return, turning them into regulars.

Apart from serving delicious menu dishes, changing your menu regularly to incorporate new dishes alongside the old favourites and delivering first-class service in a fantastic setting there’s much to be done to encourage repeat customers.  At Alliance, our job is to furnish restaurants, bars, hotels and similar with all the tools needed for a successful business and we’ve picked up some tips along our journey too.  Here are our suggestions on how to encourage repeat restaurant customers:

  • Greet Your Customers By Name

It’s human nature to want to feel liked and remembered so try your best to remember customer names and greet return customers by their name when they come through the door.  This makes them feel like an old friend and someone who is liked and respected.  Of course, not everyone is good at remembering names so employ some tactics to remind you!  The first time a customer comes into your restaurant, take their name.  If they’ve reserved their table this should be easy enough but if not, always ask for their name and try to mentally log it.  As soon as your customer is seated, make a note online or on your notepad of their name and where they sat to remind you in future.  Once you know their name it’s a good idea to repeat it in conversation, so once they’ve been seated, you could adopt this tactic and say “I hope you enjoy your meal Mr Jones, anything you need just ask your waiter/waitress or me, my name is…”

  • Smile – Even Through Gritted Teeth!

Everyone of your team should smile, no matter what.  A smile instantly makes you feel good even if your day is lousy and it certainly lifts the spirits of your guests.  Who wants to be greeted and seated let alone served by a misery?  If you have a complaint, start with a smile when responding – it will stop you jumping on the defensive too, a major black mark against your restaurant!

  • Talk To Your Customers

We’re not suggesting pulling up a chair and sitting with them all night but do stop by their table and try and have a short and pleasant conversation.  See what they’ve ordered and make a mental note too so you know what they like hopefully for the future.  Find out about them if you think it’s appropriate – do they live locally?  Have they tried your style of cooking before?  This all makes them feel important and will help you to remember them for the next time they visit.

  • Offer On The House

If you’ve had a repeat customer in and it’s their second visit, offer them an on-the-house drink which shows your appreciation and will encourage them to visit you again! If they keep coming back, a complimentary dessert or a special side dish offered for nothing will make them feel appreciated and important to you – this is invaluable!

  • Seek Opinion

Ask your customers (new and repeat) what they like, this goes a long way, they feel like their opinion matters and you learn what’s working and what’s not.  Train your employees to do the same and tell your employees to always be friendly and chatty.

  • Customer Loyalty

Once you have a set of regular customers why not treat them all to something special perhaps a brunch or a private cocktail party?  An exclusive invitation is always welcome and your customers will be made to feel extra-special so boosting even more customer loyalty.

  • Reward Scheme

Introduce a reward scheme to encourage repeat customers.  Many restaurants have reward cards which are given when their server brings the bill.  The card usually has spaces and each space is stamped following each visit, giving the 10th visit a free dinner or similar.  Ready-stamp the first visit so your customers are on their way to receiving their free offer, this encourages repeat business.

  • Make Your Service Stand Out

Make sure all your staff provide exemplary service so your restaurant stands out from the others.  To be absolutely clear that you do offer the best service you can employ an undercover friend to try out your restaurant and experience the service and food for themselves so giving you their honest opinion.

  • Push The Boat Out

Always go the extra mile.  If it’s someone’s birthday prepare a special dessert (without being asked to).  If you know it’s a wedding anniversary, pick out the most romantic table and perhaps offer a glass of bubbly on the house.  Going the extra mile makes a huge difference to customers; they won’t forget it and tell their friends!

  • Happy Hour

Have a Happy Hour for food and drinks.  If you are generally slow between 5 and 7.00pm then this will help boost your profits too and your customers will have even more of a reason to return.

For all the equipment you need to run a successful restaurant, bar, café or hotel business visit the catering experts, allianceonline.co.uk.