Do your customers know how much you value their support and loyalty? And if yes, what steps does your restaurant take, to ensure that they understand that they‘re worth more than dollars and cents to you?
Whether through, rebates, loyalty points programs, discounts or saying it verbally, letting customers know that you are grateful for their business, is a sure way of winning their hearts over and guaranteeing their return.
At any one time there are an infinite number of restaurants, competing for the customers sitting at your tables, hence the more reason to go beyond the business exchange and ensure that their dining experience leaves them feeling like part of a family.
Here are a Dozen Ways to Show Appreciation
1. Say Thank You!
That wise old saying “be thankful for what you have”, is not limited to personal matters, but can also be applied to business strategy. If your present customers feel like to you they are more than just business, they will not only be transformed into ambassadors of your brand, but you can be sure to win their lifetime support. Little things like slipping them thank you cards and notes, or a visit to their table to say thank you for choosing us!, and enquiring if the order meets their expection will always be priceless. Take care of your customers and they will take care of you.
2. Integrate a Customer Loyalty System with Useful Rewards
While gratitude to all customers is a necessity; going the extra mile for members of loyalty database will ensure its constant growth. Customer loyalty initiatives are the basis of all marketing strategies.
Acknowledge new loyalty customers and utilize your mailing system to thank them for their patronage as well as gathering feedback on their experience, thoughts and expectations as select members. Don’t hesitate to surprise them with a thank you gift delivered to them.
3. Regular Customer Contests
Regular Customer Contests at which customers are rewarded with free meals, gifts or points, redeemable at your restaurant, or other places is a great way to not only show appreciation and boost customer engagement; but also increase your walk- in traffic to the restaurant. Contest prizes must be practical and worth the attendance of the customers. No one wants to drive five dollars’ worth of gas for a two dollar prize, that isn’t functional. Capture these special moments on photo and video and display on the restaurant’s walls and on its websites and social media platforms to promote future run offs and keep customer engaged.
4. Exclusive Customer Loyalty Offers
Exclusive Customer Loyalty Offers like discounts, freebies, new menus, complimentary loyalty points etc., exclusive freebies for customers registering with the restaurants mailing list, is sure to grow its database. Often it’s not that customers don’t want to give their information, but rather, they prefer to exchange it for something tangible. After all “exchange is no robbery”, right? Utilize their info for their maximum benefit. How? By bookmarking their birth dates, anniversaries etc., and sending them complimentary gifts, gift cards, branded tokens etc., to let them know you care about the things that are important to them and are celebrating these treasured moments together.
5. Get to know your Customers; don’t be a Stranger
Meet and greet new and unfamiliar customers, make a note of who they are and be sure to let them know that you appreciate that of their countless options, your restaurant was their choice. Business with a personal touch will always set you apart from your competition. And in their follow up visits, substitute the cold and cliché “Madam” and “Sir” for their names. Greet them on entry and have the staff to do so as well in order to get acquainted with new customers and show appreciation to current ones.
6. Social Media Interaction / Engagement
With Social Media being the key platform for sharing, just about anything from your thoughts and experiences, to business information, this is a prime platform to post coverage photos and videos and even share livestream coverage where possible, of events, contests, winners, on your restaurant’s Facebook, twitter and Instagram pages, and announce and congratulate contest winners, customer’s birthdays, anniversaries etc. Capture customers’ special moments in the restaurant and ask them to permit sharing these on your page. Their likes and sharing of the events will cross promote both customers and business.
7. Customer Rewards Program
Acknowledge customer support and loyalty through, monthly rewards programs, where customers may be rewarded with branded stuff, that’s usable. T-shirts, totes, notebooks, coffee mugs, water bottles, free meals, deserts, special discounts etc. Information gathered from your loyalty database may be used to determine winners based on their monthly spending, number of visits for the current month, quarter etc. Customer of the month Photos are a great motivation and appreciation gesture.
8. Free Giveaways and Celebrations
Everyone loves freebies, and it’s always a winner of customer loyalty and a great gesture of appreciation. Special offers for select customers such as:
• Free branded tokens with every take out purchase, tokens depending on the cost of the purchase.
• Random giveaways to walk in customers.
• Random discounts to customers e.g. on slow sales days.
• Free and random weekly, monthly or quarterly lunch/dinner raffle drawings are sure to capture their hearts and keep them coming.
• Business customers can qualify for monthly deliveries of free lunches for their staff, by being loyal customers of your restaurant. The element of surprise is sure to make them feel appreciated and turn them into loyal advocates of your brand.
9. Sponsor and get involved in Community Activities
Teaming up with community outreach programs is a great way to assure customers that you are not just there to take their dollar, but that their development is at the core of who you are.
• Offer exclusive customer discounts and free entry to community activities and festivities, this not only ties your brand to worthy causes but shows that you are more than just penny sharks.
• Sponsor and have staff be a part of community clean up/ restoration projects, health walks, runs, and awareness activities.
• Support and promote youth development and mentorship through sports. There’s a huge number gifted athletes in every community lacking the exposure and guidance in their platforms. These success stories bearing your restaurant’s brand opens up a whole new market.
• And do not miss the opportunity to Celebrate the Most Festive time of the Year at Christmas. Get in the spirit with Thank You! Gifts of appreciation for their support and loyalty throughout the year.
10. Hassle Free Ordering
There are not enough hours in the day for most people, and the least time consuming ordering lunch/ dinner online is, the better for all parties involved. Show concern for your customers’ time by making use of easy, safe and hassle free apps like, Chow Now, Gloria Food, Yelp, Upserve and 7Rooms. Some of these Allow customers the comfort of placing their orders from your social media platforms.
11. A Grand Customer Appreciation Day Never Gets Old
Stage a Grand Customer Appreciation Day Event, loaded with freebies and unexpected giveaways. Raffle Draws, and other creative Thank you gestures. Promote these on your restaurant’s Social Media Pages well in advance for maximum reach.
12. Nothing says “Thank You! … quite like Thank You!
The power of saying Thank You! is highly under estimated. Where applicable ensure management and staff is in the habit of saying thank you to customers. After all of the countless options out there, they didn’t have to choose your restaurant. A warm thank you always hits the bullseye for showing appreciation.
What else can you do? … Ask
There’s no standard way of showing appreciation and with a diversity of cultures and norms, what warms the heart of one customer may not have the same effect on another.
Simply asking for customer feedback on what you can do to improve their experience with your restaurant and make them feel more appreciated is a great approach. Asking for their approach will show that you are centered on them and not just you. Sneak a moment in and ask what you can do to improve their experience and incorporate their feedback into your daily routine. Customers will notice the implemented changes and feel valued beyond their dollars. And be sure to let anyone complimenting you on the changes know that it was based on customer feedback. Your customers will appreciate that you care enough about them cater to their specific needs.