5 ways to Increase Customer Loyalty in Your Restaurant | ResDiary

5 ways to Increase Customer Loyalty in Your Restaurant | ResDiary

Customer loyalty is like gold for hospitality venues. A steady stream of returning customers ensures reliable repeat business and offers free word-of-mouth marketing.

To help you build customer loyalty for your restaurant, ResDiary spoke with Joshua King, author of The Hospitality Survival Guide and founder of the Australian Cafe Owner's Network for his insights.

Read on to understand the top methods to develop loyalty from your diners.

1. Provide great food and service

It should come as no surprise that delivering consistently excellent food and service to your customers is a crucial first step in building a loyal customer base. It's important to establish baseline standards of great food and service in your restaurant before concerning yourself with other steps to increase customer loyalty.

Joshua places great importance on service for customer loyalty. He told us that it's important to focus on "The little things, remembering names, remembering times [customers] come in."

However, for restaurants that have pivoted to providing online delivery in the wake of the COVID pandemic, things are slightly different. "You don’t have the opportunity to have your service shine. Your product has to shine."

This means creating a delivery-focused menu and ensuring you provide hot food and accurate orders. For more insight into providing a brilliant online ordering experience for your customers, see our guide to increasing online ordering sales.

2. Loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are a go-to method for building restaurant customer loyalty as you actively reward customers for returning to your venue.

A few common examples of loyalty programs for restaurants include:

  • Points program: In a restaurant with a points program, customers might spend $200 and receive 2000 loyalty points with a value of $20.
  • Loyalty cards: Perhaps the most common loyalty program around is a card that records coffee purchases. When a customer buys a certain number of cups, they are rewarded with a free one.
  • Tiered program: To get the most out of loyalty programs, some businesses divide programs into tiers. This allows them to offer special rewards to their most valuable customers.

When executed properly, loyalty programs can be highly effective. A survey from Deloitte found that 47% of restaurant loyalty program members use their membership several times a month. 32% use it several times a week.

However, a customer loyalty program is not a fix-all solution. Don't overlook other methods of increasing loyalty and focus purely on these initiatives.

3. Know your customers

Customer loyalty is about creating a relationship between your diners and your business. To accomplish this, you must know your customers.

ResDiary offers several integrations to collect and make the most of customer data. The TalkBox by Impact Data integration automatically updates with booking information. This can capture customer data including names, email addresses and birthdays.

TalkBox also offers tailored automated communications to drive repeat visits and build loyalty.

Another effective integration in this area is Connect by me&u. This Customer Relationship Management System offers an easy-to-use email marketing tool and automated customer journeys. Combined with ResDiary booking data, it's a powerful tool.

These tools help to simplify the process of forging connections with your customers, allowing you to focus on running a thriving venue.

For businesses seeking to use customer data to incentivise loyalty, Joshua told us it is essential to "Remember what they ordered, remember who they were with, remember the names." Information collected and remembered by your staff is just as important as booking data.

4. Build your brand

There's no overstating the importance of a restaurant's brand. According to Joshua, "Brand is everything for hospitality. It’s your signature for your connection with your customers."

If you want customers to feel a genuine connection with your business, you need to do the brand work to reflect this.

Research has found that customers are loyal to brands when they feel a deep connection with their core concept. Discover what sets your business apart from your competitors and focus on that.

Some key methods for establishing your restaurant's branding are:

  • Write a mission statement: Establishing the "why" for your restaurant is crucial for branding. A simple and effective way to do this is to create a brief mission statement that addresses your business' purpose and why customers should care about you.
  • Create a visual identity: While logos and visuals aren't everything when it comes to branding, they are important anchors for your brand message. You can establish a visual identity in your physical venue and other areas like staff uniforms.

Marketing and digital presence: From email marketing to your social media presence, establish a consistent visual style and brand tone that customers can recognise and connect with.

5. Host special events

Once the cornerstones of your customer loyalty efforts are in place, initiatives like special events can be the perfect cherry on top.

However, Joshua recommends caution when it comes to hosting or attending events; “I don’t think an event should be done purely because there’s foot traffic.” You need to think carefully about how your event showcases your business in a valuable way that will create more loyal customers.

A few ideas for special events to increase customer loyalty include:

  • Wine tastings: High-end foodies love their wine. Show off your business' expertise with a wine-tasting event that pairs drinks with your restaurant's dishes.
  • Supplier showcases: Consumers are increasingly eco-conscious and thoughtful about their food consumption. A supplier showcase can provide greater insight into the food on your customer's plates and how it is produced. This grows your diners’ understanding of and relationship with your venue.
  • Classes: Cooking or coffee-making classes are another excellent method to show off your team's expertise and share it with your diners. It's the perfect way to develop your customer relationships. Who doesn't love learning how to make better food and coffee?

Once again, ResDiary can help out in ensuring the success of special events in your venue. ResDiary offers specialised event management capabilities to help your occasion go off without a hitch as you can easily handle large parties and allocate tables for your event.

Plus, with ResDiary's marketing solutions, it's simple to spread the word about your event and ensure a great turnout. Use customer data you've collected to target your marketing to your diners who are likely to be interested in your event.

Increase customer loyalty with ResDiary

Joshua has a simple message for restaurant owners trying to drive repeat business:

"You are in the entertainment industry. It's your job to sell tickets."

Increasing customer loyalty requires input from all parts of your business to create the ideal customer experience.

ResDiary is the restaurant booking system to help you do just that. Step into a digital future with real-time updates and additional features like ResPhone, an automated telephone service.

ResDiary also boasts plenty of other features to delight your customers. We have over 60 integrations including reliable EPOS systems and advanced marketing solutions to build your brand.

Book a demo today and uncover all the benefits ResDiary can offer your business.

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