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6 Ways to Convert Customers into Regulars

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Jenny Day
Customer Retention
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Once you have conquered getting the customer through the front door, it’s important to your bottom line to try to convert them into regulars.

What is customer acquisition?

Customer acquisition is the process of gaining new customers. It involves attracting prospects to your restaurant and persuading them to buy your product or service.

What is customer retention?

Customer retention is a restaurant’s ability to maintain acquired customers over time. It is the ability to turn customers into repeat buyers and prevent them from switching to a competitor.

Which is more expensive, customer acquisition of customer retention?

About 82% of companies agree that customer retention costs are less expensive than new customer acquisition.

Which has a better ROI, customer acquisition or customer retention?

Customer retention has a better ROI than customer acquisition. According to Hubspot, here are a few reasons why customer retention is critical to company growth and success:

  • Affordability: It’s 6 to 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer.
  • ROI: A 5% increase in customer retention can increase company revenue by 25-95%.
  • Loyalty: Retained customers buy more often and spend more than newer customers. They’ve learned the value of a product or service and keep coming back, again and again.
  • Referrals: Satisfied, loyal customers are more likely to sing a company’s praises and refer their friends and family — bringing in new customers, free of charge.

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 70% of customers don’t come back to the same restaurant after visiting it once.

Why do I need a restaurant customer retention program?

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.

How do I build a restaurant customer retention program?

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

Leverage customer data

Based on reports that show customer counts and sales averages for new, frequent, and returning customers, you can send custom push notifications to alert them of special offers to drive business and customer satisfaction.

Deliver great customer service

Customers who receive great food and exemplary service are likely to return for that very same experience again. In fact, nearly 89% of businesses claim that customer service is a leading factor in their company’s retention rates. 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.

Properly train 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.

Communicate with customers

Humans long for emotional connections. When a customer has a meaningful interaction with staff, they are more likely to remember the experience and want to return. Personal touch is how a restaurant stands out from the competition and lets customers know what the brand is about. Building a loyal customer following by connecting emotionally with guests is key to increasing a restaurant’s long-term profitability.

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. Make it a policy to quickly respond to both positive and negative reviews.

Learn tips on how to respond to negative reviews here.

Reward customers for loyalty

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.

Get involved in your community

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. Find ways to get involved in community events, like donating to nonprofits and providing free services to schools and local charities.


The ability to attract new customers and retain loyal guests can be a struggle for operators. That’s where Restaurant365 can help. We’ve been in your shoes. Many of our staff has worked in the restaurant industry and have seen first-hand the type of service, attention to detail, and experience it takes to satisfy customers’ evolving needs.

Our back-office management solutions can help you monitor customer retention. You can see how often customers are returning and how much return customers are spending. You can also compare this information to new customer data which could help you make decisions regarding promotions, advertisements, and more.