5 Things That Make Diners Come Back

As a restaurant owner, you know that retaining existing customers costs less than recruiting new ones.

The secret to bringing diners back lies in perfecting the customer experience. Here’s how:

#1: Serve Great Food

Your passion for serving great food is probably why you opened a restaurant in the first place. Here are just a few reminders on how to keep customers hungry for your food:

Get Back to Basics. Taste, temperature, and presentation deliver the quality customers expect.

Refine Your Menu. Make any necessary modifications or deletions to create a well-conceived, streamlined menu. Keep it simple for customers to read and manageable for your kitchen to produce.

Be Consistent. Regular customers often return for the same dishes. Keep them satisfied with consistency.

#2: Practice Great Customer Service

Customer service is often the differentiator that sets your restaurant apart from the rest. If your servers use these techniques to take care of diners, they’re more likely to return.

Smile and Listen. Customers like to be served by familiar servers that are friendly and competent.

Be Respectful.  Always be respectful of customers, even if they are not.

Go the Extra Mile. Patrons will appreciate someone who goes above and beyond to take care of them. Also, learning repeat customers’ names and preferences will make them feel welcome.

#3: Keep it Clean

Nothing turns off customers more than a dirty restaurant. In fact, lack of cleanliness is linked to low customer retention.

Here are a few areas to keep spic and span:

Restrooms. A third of customers will never come back to a restaurant if the bathroom is dirty.

Tableware. Make dishes and plates sparkle to keep customers happy.

Packaging. Grubhub advises using appropriately-sized delivery containers with proper seals (keeping sauces separate) to help food arrive looking clean and appetizing.

#4: Perfect the Art of Solving Problems

How you handle inevitable customer complaints can lose customers for good, or convert them into more loyal patrons than if they hadn’t experienced a problem at all.

Here are some tips:

Online Reviews. Respond quickly and sincerely to every review—good and bad. Grubhub offers these tips.

Ask for Input. In delivery packages, a printed flyer asking for customers to call with feedback can avoid a bad online review and help earn that customer’s continued patronage.

Be Professional. Really listen to the customer’s complaint, don’t be defensive, never raise your voice, and always present a solution.

#5: Give Incentives

Offering incentives for return visits helps build long-lasting relationships.

Here are just a couple of suggestions:

Coupon Codes. Everyone loves to receive a discount. Restaurants that partner with Grubhub can reward both loyal and new customers with coupon codes and other promotions.

Buy One, Get One. People often bring in friends with BOGO offers. You just might pick up an additional new steady customer.

Loyalty Programs. Most Americans participate in at least one restaurant loyalty program. Loyalty program members feel more connected with the brand and also spend more than non-members do. Grubhub suggests utilizing your POS system, or customer-facing digital rewards programs through social media to reward customers for loyalty.

These tips will keep your customers coming back for more, while helping you grow your restaurant and become more profitable.

Read more about making memorable customer experiences.

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Image: Flickr