During these challenging times, retaining customers is one of the hardest things to do.
Even more so for restaurants, cafes, bars and the likes as most of them had to remain closed during the lockdown period.
Many F&B outlet owners struggled to stay afloat. Some had to come up with creative and innovative ways to continue serving customers who are not allowed to leave their homes.
Now that things are slowly getting back to normal, people are gradually gaining confidence to go out and dine again.
As F&B outlet owners, your focus should not only be to attract new customers but to also make them fall in love with your establishment so they keep coming back.
When customers keep coming back, it’s more revenue for you and it gives your business a good reputation as well.
Let’s look at some customer retention strategies that F&B outlet owners can quickly and easily implement:
1. Provide excellent customer service
In 2021, this goes without saying, but still worth a mention. Sadly, there are still many F&B outlets that employ untrained staff members who deliver sub-par customer service and leave customers feeling frustrated.
This is something that you can no longer afford to do. There is plenty of competition out there – and if you don’t make your customers feel good, they will go to some place that does.
Your customer’s journey starts from the very moment that they come to know about your outlet. This means that it starts right from your website, Facebook page, down to your front-of-house and staff members.
Make sure that your Facebook page is responsive to potential customers who are enquiring about the menu, reservations, and so on. Your website should also have all the details and answers to FAQs.
Your staff members should greet customers warmly, show them to their seat, make sure they’re given the menu, they are aware of your promotions and discounts, and so on. They should also be able to accommodate customer’s requests – like providing a baby chair or suggesting a vegetarian option.
Every single action reflects your establishment and what it stands for. Make sure it’s a good one.
2. Use personalisation whenever possible
Many F&B outlet owners understand the importance of personalisation. They greet customers by their names and some even remember what their customers like or don’t like.
It doesn’t stop there. You can make personalised product recommendations for your regular customers.
For example, if they love wine, you can introduce them to your new collection of wines instead of giving them their regular favourite bottle. If they love beer, you can suggest some fries or wings to go along with it.
You can also let them know about a beer or wine event that you’re planning to host in a few weeks.
Make sure to also include personalisation in all your emails and SMS campaigns. Personalised, targeted marketing always has a higher chance converting new customers into loyal customers.
3. Go the extra mile for customers
Going the extra mile for customers cannot go wrong for you. No customer will complain about the fact that you walked them to their car with an umbrella while it was raining – or that you surprised them with a birthday cake.
Customers today don’t buy because they saw an advertisement. They buy because they heard a good story about your establishment. They heard about how friendly your staff members are and how the owner goes to every table to check on customers.
They hear that you have beautiful lighting and a nice wall for Instagram photos.
The key to customer retention is to secure a place in their hearts. When customers feel an emotional bond with your establishment, they will keep coming back and they will tell all their friends and families to do the same.
4. Stay updated with the latest technology
Customers today are spoilt by technology. They want everything to be fast and efficient. If you want your restaurant, cafe or bar to thrive, you need to keep up with technology.
For example, a customer is craving for your chicken pie, but they are swamped with work and have no time to dine in. They search for your restaurant on delivery apps but don’t see it. Then they go over to your website and don’t see any delivery or pick up option. They call you up and you tell them there’s no delivery.
That’s one customer lost. There are probably many customers out there facing the same challenge too. Get your establishment listed on popular food delivery sites – or provide your own!
In addition to that, you can provide a contactless menu for your customers since people have become accustomed to that since the pandemic. Implementing contactless menu and contactless payment can make your life and your customer’s lives way easier too.
5. Create a customised loyalty program to reward customers
Customers today expect to be rewarded as a loyal customer. They could choose to go anywhere – but they specifically chose your place.
They tell their friends and families about your restaurant. They celebrate their birthdays and anniversaries there. They post about you on Instagram.
In return, they want to be rewarded for their loyalty.
With a customer loyalty program in place, you can send out rewards systematically using data. It’s also the best way to engage with your customers instantly. Get them to sign up, issue them welcome points – and voila – you have their attention and their contact information.
You can create a tiered membership to reward customers based on their number of visits or amount they spent.
In addition to rewarding their loyalty, you can also use the loyalty program to send out reminders for customers to come back and dine with you.
You can also update them about changes in your menu, workshops, events, new dinner promotions, reservations, selling gift cards and so on. Automate your birthday rewards and monthly campaigns.
A highly engaged customer is definitely way more profitable to you than those with low engagement.
With these tips, you should be able to efficiently engage with your new customers and turn them into repeat customers. A repeat customer will generate more revenue for your business and they will also bring in more customers customers for you.