A survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association (USA), shows most successful restaurants are able to flourish due to the a loyal customer base, with regular customers making up 71 percent of sales at QSRs, 68 percent of sales at fast-casual operations, 64 percent at casual-dining establishments, 63 percent at family-dining eateries and 51 percent at fine-dining restaurants. There is only one reason for a regular customer – satisfaction.
There are basically three types of customers for a restaurant. The first type are customers that come in once or twice, but never again. The second type are customers that come in every now and then, but not often at all. The third type are regulars. These are the people that your staff recognizes because they come in often enough to make an impression. Regulars are more important to a restaurant’s success because the more regulars you have, the more likely it is that you are doing something right.
The question is, how do you convert customers in the first two groups to customers in the third group?
As per various surveys the following parameters are which influence the customer to be loyal
1. Food quality
2. Menu selection
3. Menu pricing and value satisfaction
4. Waiting times
5. Promptness of service
6. Professionalism and friendliness of server(s)
7. Server’s knowledge of menu
8. Ambiance and feel
9. Restaurant location
10. Overall restaurant experience
11. Special treatment for repeat customers (loyalty programs, custom offers)
12. Queue management
Home deliveries and take aways typically have some additional parameters such as ease of placing the order, packaging and promptness of delivery. Surprisingly, discounts maybe good to attract new customers, but not to retain them – retention solely depends on the customer satisfaction. Along with good food and great service, it is also important to make repeat customers feel privileged. For example Dumaadum, a Pune based QSR chain, saw an increase of 25% in the number of repeat customer orders and visits after introducing the loyalty program and running targeted campaigns for NRO (not recently ordered) customers.
“Restaurant operators today are much savvier about attracting repeat customers and maintaining their loyalty,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of the NRA’s Research & Knowledge Group. “They are utilizing new technologies and tactics to engage, retain and enlarge a loyal customer base.”
To achieve customer satisfaction, apart from the organic ways, there are other ways to enable a restaurant to increase customer retention:
1. Reward/Loyalty Programs
2. Targeted & personalized customer campaigns
3. Regular feedback and corrective actions wherever necessary
A lot of restaurateurs enable feedback mechanism, but the question is – how many take corrective actions based on the feedback? It is important to acknowledge positive and especially negative feedbacks. For positive feedback a simple SMS thanking the customer can do wonders whereas for negative feedbacks it is important to notify the customer what corrective steps have been taken. Just the fact that the restaurant has taken the customer feedback seriously, makes the customer feel valued. If the restaurant is truly at fault, the customer can even be offered a coupon or a discount to make up for it.
The most important thing is to ensure that a customer is not lost. Most restaurants spend much more effort and funds on getting new customers rather than retaining existing ones – there needs to be a balance of both. The last thing a loyal customer wants to hear is of offers available only for ‘new’ customers!