Smart restaurant marketing strategies will keep your diners coming back for more. Retaining an existing customer for your restaurant is far easier and much less expensive than attracting a new diner into your establishment. Some restaurant marketing studies have shown it can take up to six times more in marketing and acquisition costs to generate the same amount of business from new diners than from your existing customers. Additionally, it can take many months, or even years, before a new customer will reach the same spending levels as your current customers. What's more, loyal customers will become your best sales people through word-of-mouth advertising and referrals, resulting in new customers without the additional customer acquisition costs. In other words, both losing existing customers and investing in new customer acquisition activities are very expensive propositions for restaurant owners and managers.
Fortunately, there are many strategies that restaurant management can utilize to meet constantly evolving customer expectations, sharpen management's competitive edge and yield more repeat business. Today's diners create a difficult challenge as they demand personalized products and services. They want to be engaged by the restaurateur. Customer loyalty or customer frequency programs help restaurant managers deliver on those high expectations, retain existing diners and create more opportunities for new visitors. Consumers often say they are more likely to patronize a restaurant that offers some type of rewards program. It is estimated that approximately 90% of Americans actively participate in some sort of a loyalty or rewards program as is evidenced by frequent flyer programs, frequent hotel stay rewards programs as well as frequent shopper programs implemented by supermarkets, drugstores and office supply stores.
A loyalty program allows a restaurateur to create a special relationship with their customers. It is not an event; it is a systematic process for changing your customer's behavior so they frequent your restaurant more often, and even spend more while they are dining. By providing incentives unique to your restaurant, you 'hook' them so they visit your restaurant rather than patronize the competition. Just make it easy to participate in your program, have only a few very simple rules and don't make it too difficult to earn the rewards. In fact, the quicker a diner can 'collect' a reward, the more likely they are to patronize your restaurant.
Importantly, the technology behind internet based marketing and loyalty programs is becoming more affordable and accessible to restaurants of all sizes. Building a restaurant loyalty marketing program is a three-step process. Email clubs are a cost-effective first step. Launching an email club helps build your customer email database, which can later be used for more encompassing loyalty programs, and it allows opportunities to boost sales. An email database of customers who have opted-in to your list can be a gold mine; these customers will generally buy more often as well as spend more money on each transaction.
Frequency or card-based programs are the next level, capturing data that allows for segmentation of customers by frequency and spending habits. This in turn provides valuable business and marketing information. The highest level loyalty program creates true opportunities for personalization by using all these tools to ascertain what your best customers are buying so you can create offers and programs especially for them.
With a well-designed and well-maintained program, you can reward and retain the truly loyal diners as well as create a reason for a new diner to come to your restaurant. This is a smart restaurant marketing strategy.
Restaurant Self-Assessment Checklist: Are you looking for new ways to market your restaurant? Streamline operations? Improve profitability? Enhance diner satisfaction? Restaurant owners and managers can now conduct a thorough