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Top 5 Ways to Drive Customer Retention in a Post-pandemic World

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This article was written by Katie Fairchild for Fast Casual.

Once you have conquered getting the customer through the front door, you must convert them into regulars. Restaurant365’s Katie Fairchild explains how.

Building a customer retention program is important for improving the lifetime value of current customers, which can make up a large portion of your restaurant’s revenue. Customer retention statistics show that 65% of a company’s business comes from its existing customer base.

And, as a bonus, customer loyalty helps bring in new customers since happy customers are more likely to recommend your product or service to others.

What is a good retention rate in the restaurant industry?

Looking at the average customer retention rate by industry, ours is extremely low. The restaurant customer retention rate sits at about 30%, which also means that more or less 70% of customers don’t come back to the same restaurant after visiting it once.

About 82% of companies agree that customer retention costs are cheaper than new customer acquisition. And considering that repeat customers tend to spend more money, it is obvious that we need customer retention strategies specifically for restaurants.

Once you have conquered getting the customer through the front door, be sure to convert them into regulars by providing:

1. Consistent, high-quality experiences

Nearly 89% of businesses claim that customer service is a leading factor in their company’s retention rates. Customers who receive great food and exemplary service are likely to return for that very same experience again. Make sure your customers are receiving consistent high-quality recipes, appealing presentation, a clean environment, and excellent customer service every time they visit your restaurant.

2. Manager engagement

As restaurant owners and managers, engaging with customers is a huge part of customer satisfaction. Customers will remember how they felt while in your restaurant, so try to visit each table and make them feel welcome. It may take a moment or two out of your busy day, but the results of that gesture can be extremely valuable the next time those customers are deciding on where to eat out.

About 43% of customers are likely to leave a review after a positive customer experience, so don’t be shy about asking pleased customers to tell their friends about their experience or to go online and leave a review.

3. Properly trained staff

Take the time to properly train every employee. It is easy to assume that your employees understand their role, but they can’t deliver your brand’s desired experience unless you clarify (and constantly remind them of) your expectations on customer engagement, cleanliness, and ticket times.

Menu recommendations are more than just suggestions to new customers who are unfamiliar with your plates. It allows you to interact with the customer in a whole new way. Making recommendations the right way provides an opportunity to build trust and credibility with your patrons while getting to know them on a whole new level.

4. Quality loyalty programs

Incentives and loyalty programs are becoming increasingly popular, especially amongst the millennial crowd. In fact, 75% of consumers say they favor companies that offer rewards. Punch cards, coupons, point systems, and even exclusive products can also keep your customers coming back. Incentives and loyalty programs are relatively inexpensive in relation to the cost of acquiring new customers through marketing and advertisement.

5. Community involvement

Community involvement is an easy and effective way to increase brand awareness, establish a positive reputation, and grow repeat business. Giving back to your community is among the top customer retention strategies for small businesses because it is a great way to grow your brand by showcasing your business values. You can find ways to get involved in community events, like donating to nonprofits and providing free services to schools and local charities.

The ability to retain loyal guests can be a struggle for operators, but it is well worth the effort. Building a loyal customer following is key to increasing your restaurant’s profitability.