How to turn your customers into regulars: 5 tips for restaurant owners

How to turn your customers into regulars: 5 tips for restaurant owners

It is vital for a restaurant to have a steady flow of diners eating at their establishment. While it is important to market your business to as many new potential customers as possible, it is also essential to ensure that you turn first-time diners into regular visitors.

With a wide range of restaurants available, it is important to consider why a customer would decide to return. We have created 5 tips for restaurant owners to make sure that your customers keep coming back.

1. Encourage loyalty

Customers are familiar with the concept of loyalty cards, often receiving them from larger brands. They are popular with diners, as they offer rewards for regularly eating in the same place. Popular restaurant chain Nando’s offers free food after collecting a certain amount of ‘chilli’ points. When creating a loyalty scheme for your customers, decide whether a simple cardboard print, a plastic card or a loyalty app would suit your customer base and be cost effective.

2. Offer free incentives

People love to be surprised, and there’s no better surprise than receiving an unexpected treat. Consider offering a surprise free item to random customers, whether it is structured (i.e. every 100th customer receives a treat) or if they are allocated at random by staff. One company successfully employing this tactic is Pret A Manger, whose staff are told to give out a certain number of free items per week.

If regularly giving out freebies would put a dent in your profits, consider giving away items on special days. For instance, US shoppers with a Starbucks loyalty card are entitled to a free drink for their birthday.

It is always a good idea to boost custom by offering an in-house competition for a free meal. Rather than focussing solely on the winner, add an incentive for all entrants. By offering a discount on a meal at your restaurant for those who entered, customers are more likely to come back.

3. Keep in touch

It is a good idea to keep your customers updated on information surrounding your business. By asking customers to give you their email address, whether in-store or online, you can create a large database of potential regular clients. By emailing exclusive discount codes or news about upcoming menu items, you can increase your restaurant’s appeal. It is also a good idea to create social media pages for your restaurant, keeping them updated with interesting news, links and images that are relevant to your customer base.

4. Offer something new

There could be improvements to your restaurant that could drive more customers back to your restaurant. Adding a bar or outside seating area, or adding extra drinks options to the menu could encourage customers to visit more often. Carrying out renovations or purchasing additional stock may seem out of your budget, but there are business funding options available. Quick Capital business cash advances are a popular method of raising funds quickly, and can be paid back with flexibility. Don’t forget to advertise any changes you carry out, to make sure that your customers come back to see what’s new!

5. Make it simple

No customer likes being made to wait around unnecessarily, so simplifying the processes in your restaurant will impress them. Evaluate current procedures, both on the restaurant floor and in the kitchen, and see if any improvements can be made. Make sure to ask both your staff and customers for any suggestions, as they may have innovative ideas that you hadn’t considered.

Speeding up your payment process can be important to a customer. If your business currently only accepts cash, a card terminal allows your customers to pay in a more convenient way. If you do accept card payments at your till, why not get a quote for a Handepay portable card terminal? This allows your customer to pay at the table, rather than queuing up at a counter.