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How to Get Customers to Come Back to Your Restaurant

How to Get Customers to Come Back to Your Restaurant

All the time and money you’ve spent on marketing pays off when a new customer steps into your restaurant for the first time. Now, the challenge becomes how to turn your new customer into a repeat customer. Selling to existing customers is less expensive and more profitable than attracting new customers. Additionally, your loyal customers can become a substantial source of new business as they bring their friends and family to your restaurant. Here are a few tips to help you keep your customers coming back to you.

 

Build a relationship with your customers

Every tip in this article involves some form of relationship-building with your customers. You can’t hope to have loyal customers if you intend to compete on food or price alone. The fact is that there’s probably a dozen good, cheap, alternatives around you. Where you can truly differentiate yourself is how you make your guest feel. Your customers may not remember what your salad tastes like a month or two from now, but they will remember their experience and whether you made them feel special.

 

Incentivize new customers to return

A new customer’s first few visits are the most crucial period for long-term customer retention. The likelihood of a customer returning after their first and second visit is only about 40%. Whereas the likelihood of a customer returning after their third visit is over 70%. In addition to making sure they have a flawless dining experience, you might consider giving your first and second time customers an incentive to return.

For example, you could offer first time customers a coupon for a free appetizer and your second time customers a coupon for a free dessert the next time they visit. The coupons give new customers an incentive to come back to your restaurant and their cost is probably marginal compared to your cost of acquiring a new customer. One thing to note about incentives is that you should try to avoid discounts. Customers get addicted to discounts but they don’t get addicted to free.

 

Nurture your relationship with existing customers

It’s great if you manage to get your new customers to come back a few times but your job is far from done. No matter how many times a customer returns to your restaurant, you don’t own them. It’s essential to continuously delight your regulars if you intend on keeping them around and turning them into loyal patrons. Here are a few ways you maintain your relationship with regulars.

Random gestures of appreciation: Give your regulars a free sample here and there. Give a regular coffee on the house. These small gestures will have big payoff in retaining your customers.  

Treat them for their birthday: If a guest is celebrating their special day with you, give them a free meal. This will make for a memorable experience for your guest and their friends will surely hear about you.

Engage your customers online: Make sure your customers are thinking of you outside your restaurant. Email your customers periodically, maintain active social media profiles, and respond to Yelp reviews. Since most of your customers’ time will be spent outside your restaurant, it’s essential to keep in touch with them online.

Acquiring customers is hard but retaining them is harder. However, having loyal customers is not only desirable but essential to your restaurant’s long-term growth and success. You’ll find that investing in customer retention will be one of the wisest decisions you’ll make for your restaurant!

 



Content Manager

Stanley leads content at Merlin. He's on a mission to match the right candidates with the right employers. When he's not writing, he can be found playing with Google Analytics, running A/B tests, and learning Javascript.

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