Want to know why the show “Cheers” was so successful? Not only did it keep a dedicated audience coming back episode after episode, but the fictional bar also kept its repeat customers coming back what seemed like every single night.
But these days, bringing the “regulars” back night after night is a different game than it used to be.
Pre-made meal plans, make-it-yourself delivery meal kits, and online review websites make the restaurant customer landscape a complicated place today.
But not to worry, we’ve written this handy little guide jammed-packed with restaurant ideas on how to keep your restaurant customers coming back. And back. And back again.
Obviously, new things attract attention. And when you’re known for constantly having new menu items to try, restaurant customers will grow to expect something new from you every visit.
This is the hook that’ll always keep them coming back for more. Yes, keep your staples. The dishes that people know and love and come back for should certainly stay. But, at the very least, you should have an ever-changing specials menu that’s updated monthly, at a minimum.
Teasing those new items coming to the menu is another great way to hype up your specials. Maybe for a table of regulars, you can reward them for their loyalty with a sneak peek of one of next week’s special dishes.
This is a unique way to not only bring customers back but to show repeat customers that you see and appreciate them.
You know how much you value returning customers. You should always hire and train people that will make your restaurant customers feel all that appreciation.
Often, you’ll be too busy to come out to greet each and every one of your customers. You should certainly try to meet as many as you can. Try to remember their names when they come back. Build trust and rapport with them.
But it can’t always be you out there. You’ve got a business to run. So your staff essentially becomes the face of you.
Reward the best among your team. Correct improper behavior before it can leave a bad taste in your restaurant customers’ mouths. Make sure you’re on top of your team at all times.
It could be the difference between someone coming back and someone writing your restaurant a terrible review online. That’s a big, important difference.
If returning customers have had a good experience at your restaurant, they often only need a slight nudge to come back. Restaurant promotions are the perfect way to execute that “nudge.”
Whether it’s a discount, a happy hour, a free item with purchase or a specially themed menu, restaurant customers love to know they’re getting something special.
Just take a look at most of the big, famous chain restaurants. They are constantly pushing new promotions and menu items. It wouldn’t hurt to take a page out of their books. Just look at how successful it’s made them.
You should particularly consider running promotions on your slowest nights to ensure filling up what might otherwise be a pretty slow business day.
Speaking of promotions, repeat customers love another reason to come back to your restaurant.
Here are some fun ideas for events:
All of these are exciting ways for first-time or returning restaurant customers to experience your business. On top of that, it’s a quick way to get some word of mouth when you customers invite their friends.
Customers love to know where their food is coming from. So if you source locally, say so. If you source internationally, say so. If you make breads or pastas from scratch, say so.
Even if your furniture was sourced in an interesting place it’s a nice little detail that you can go into.
Play up all the care and intent you put into your restaurant so customers can appreciate it, too.
Familiar faces should be rewarded. Bring out a drink or a dessert on the house.
Try to remember their names and what they like. Try to remember their orders even. Make a note of their birthdays if you can find that out.
A good way to get all the information on your restaurant customers is to create a loyalty program. Leave a card at the tables asking them to sign up for it. Then, you’ll be able to keep track of them when they come and reward them accordingly.
The little bit of effort it takes to remember them and give them an incentive to keep returning will be paid back accordingly.
If your restaurant doesn’t have a social media presence, you’re losing out on an easy way to lure customers back. It’s the perfect soundboard for all your latest promotions and menu items.
Use the visual aspects to your advantage. Photograph your food with a high-quality camera to entice people.
Maintaining a social media following doesn’t have to be painstaking, either. There are services that can do it all for you. And they’re less expensive than you might think. We can use all your restaurant customers’ data to give you the best shot and bringing them back.
Building connection online and in-person is the best way to keep your restaurant traffic coming back.
We’ve already gone into a few ways to build those connections. Remember the names of your regulars. Visit tables as often as you can. Build a social media following. Reward the people that do follow you. Reward the people that keep coming back.
You can also create email marketing campaigns that will promote your newest and most exciting news.
All of these connections will keep your establishment top-of-mind with loyal or even curious clientele.
But, it’s important not to overdo it. Connect and contact just often enough to keep your restaurant relevant. Not so often that your followers will feel like they’re constantly being bombarded with information.
It’s a delicate dance, but being too eager can turn off repeat restaurant visitors just as much as not connecting enough.
As you consider how to bring your restaurant customers back, make that a constant thought. Keep pushing new restaurant ideas, new promotions, new items and you’ll continue to bring in new customers.
Put your social presence in the right hands and you’ll find that your clientele will start to resemble those of a familiar bar where everybody knows your name.
To get going on building a returning customer base, contact us today.