A lot of restaurants are competing for customers, but not just any customers. The secret is finding loyal customers. Customers who feel invested in your business are a dependable stream of income and are fun to have in your restaurant. These relationships take work to establish, but loyal customers are more likely to spend more money and return more often.
Today’s POS systems are all designed to offer some type of loyalty program, and it would be a missed opportunity not to establish one. Whether or not you have an organized program though, you should still be offering your customers a little something special, and they don’t need to break the bank.
What kind of perks can you offer to show some extra love?
Birthdays are a popular night to go out and splurge. If you want those people splurging at your place offer some kind of birthday treat such as a free dessert, a free cocktail, or a coupon for a discount off their next visit.
Loyalty Program Anniversary
If your restaurant does have a structured loyalty program, offer a special treat on their anniversary of signing up. Perhaps a bottle of house wine for the table or a complimentary glass of bubbly when they are seated.
Highlight Them Personally
Everyone likes to feel special and a little bit famous. Make your customers feel extra special by featuring them in your social media channels and communications. Think about having a customer of the week blog post, a newsletter interview, or an Instagram feature. Customers get a little bit of promotion and they can enjoy feeling a little bit famous when their friends see them in your feed.
Partner With Your Neighbors
Increase the value of your restaurant by offering perks at partner businesses and having them do the same. Are you a small restaurant where customers often wait for a table? Partner with the shop next door to offer them a discount so they can shop while they wait. Are you a BYOB restaurant? Work with the wine shop around the corner on a discount off a bottle of wine. Likewise, perhaps you can offer a free appetizer for diners who have tickets for the theater across the street.
Offer Exclusive Information
Perks don’t always have to be tangible items or discounts, exclusivity goes a long way toward making people feel special. Make sure your most loyal customers are the first to know any news by visiting their table during a visit or having a VIP list within your newsletter program. Have the chef send out a taste of a new menu item or offer a sample of one of the new beers on tap. A small gesture can go a long way.
Listen To Your Customers
Customers love perks, treats, and freebies, but they also love to feel invested in a business they frequent. Call your customers by name, remember what they like, and listen to their suggestions. If they’re trying a new menu item, ask them what they think. Introduce new team members to them personally. Simple actions can go a lot further than any freebie that seems insincere.
If you would like to learn more about providing perks in order to create loyal customers check out Split, an innovative solution for restaurants that helps connect restaurants with their customers through mobile technology.
Writer Bio: Kristin Crane is a writer and designer living in Providence, Rhode Island. She works with small businesses to help them promote themselves in various industries including food, wine, and the arts. She also contributes as Travel Editor to The Lady Project blog.