In 1987 Gordon Gecko announced that 'Greed is Good'. Thirty years later and three recessions later, and it could be argued that this phrase still represents American capitalism as much as it did then.
It is easy to focus purely on the bottom line, on profit and money in your pocket, rather than on customer appreciation. However, without customers, there is no custom, and without custom, there is no bottom line.
Customer appreciation is an integral part of the restaurant trade whether it is utilized or not. When properly optimized, not only can you win a regular customer for life, but they also will encourage their friends and your potential market continues to increase.
So with that being said, take a look at these 10 easy steps for proving to customers your appreciation:
1) Appreciate Existing Customers First
All appreciation efforts should focus first on your existing customers. Without them there would be nothing anyway! We want your regulars to be so overawed by your business that they can't wait to tell their friends, thus bringing in new business. It has also been proving that it is 10x less expensive to focus on making regulars more profitable instead of new business.
2) Implement a Customer Loyalty Program
Encourage customers to register for your loyalty program. This can be as simple as a stamp on a card per visit leading to a freebie, or as advanced as offering numerous discounts and takeaway's via email. The complexity doesn't really matter, it's the effort that counts.
3) Offer an Email List For Exclusive Announcements and Offers
Working hand in hand with your loyalty program, setting up an email list is a double-whammy. Not only are you able to offer your customers exclusive announcements, but you are ensured exclusive access to directly to their inbox. A win/win.
Everybody loves a freebie. Whether it be a free drink, appetizer, t-shirt, hat, or pencil, it doesn't matter. Everyone loves a freebie. Next point.
5) Offer Eating Challenges
Now, obviously use your head here. If you're a gourmet French restaurant maybe an all-you-can-eat hot dog contest isn't your best bet. However, for the majority of restaurants it's possible to offer an eating challenge that works with your brand. 5lb Steak Frites anyone?
6) Customer of the Month
Why not choose a customer each month to honor? It can be a regular, someone who has helped out at a difficult time or chosen at random. Once the champion has been crowned, why not throw a freebie or two their way? Linking the different factors together can mean a more developed marketing strategy with extra customer appreciation!
7) Social Media Shout Outs
Social Media is your friend! It can and should be your number one ally in the battle to boost your brand. This is such an easy thing to get right that it's incredible some people are still not even trying, let alone getting it wrong! Shout outs on social media don't need to be planned out months in advance, they don't necessarily even need to be unique or original. Instead, give a shout out to your customer of the month, to the winner of a food challenge, or simply promoting your deals.
8) Manners Cost Nothing!
Your Grandmother was right when she told you that manners matter. This should go without saying (especially in customer service) but it is so important I will say it anyway. Manners are the most important aspect of customer service! The worst complaint from an angry customer Customers remembered the service received at your restaurant, train your staff to remember the service too.
9) Remember Them
This links to point 8). Your customers remember your restaurant enough to visit it regularly. Why shouldn't you return the favor and remember them? If someone cares enough about your business to continue paying their hard earned cash to visit it, it can make a huge difference to remember their name and say hello. The little things matter.
10) Need More Ideas? Ask Your Customers!
Finally, this isn't an exhaustive list. You should constantly be looking for ways to improve and innovate your restaurant's marketing campaigns. If you're ever struggling for ideas, why not ask some of your frequent flyers what they like about the restaurant and what they would improve? Your best resource is sitting right at the table in front of you, you just have to ask!
For more restaurant marketing ideas, click here.