5 Ways To Turn New Customers Into Repeat Customers
Did you know it’s easier and more cost effective to sell to an existing customer than to find a new one? Marketing Metrics explains that you are 50% more likely to sell to an existing customer than a new one. In fact, marketing to a new customer is nearly seven times as expensive as maintaining an existing customer.
What that tells us is that while you want to continue to bring in new diners, your success is greatly determined by your ability to increase your repeat customers. On average, your loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.
How do you convert new customers? Let’s talk about five ways to turn new customers into repeat customers.
#1: Start a Loyalty Program
By rewarding the loyalty of your repeat customers, you encourage repeat business. You start a loyalty program to encourage new customers to return to your restaurant. You’re basically giving them a little incentive to come back again.
Loyalty programs focus on strengthening the bond you have with your customers. Unlike one-time coupons, loyalty programs inspire many repeat visits. Plus, if your loyalty program is structured correctly, your repeat customers will spread the word, thus getting you more new customers who in turn become more repeat customers.
It’s also worth noting that loyalty customers end up spending more on their return visit. (tweet this) They also have the tendency to increase their visits to your restaurant between the first visit and the last.
When planning your loyalty program, the key is to keep it simple and to provide an easy way for your customers to sign up, track and use their reward.
There are many ways to incorporate a loyalty program with the purpose of turning new customers into repeat customers. Here are a few:
- Punch cards: These are easy to set up – you basically print a card and hand them out. Then, you punch for dollar increments and reward the customer when the card is full. While a reward like a free appetizer, dessert or drink is great, there is another way to capitalize on your customer. Provide a T-Shirt, hat or coffee mug, too. You’ve then turned your customer into a walking ad.
- Loyalty Card: This is a plastic card similar to a credit card with a barcode you can scan. It keeps track of purchases and rewards electronically. Panera uses this type of loyalty card. They also periodically throw “extra” rewards on members’ cards. This is a great way to prompt your diners to return.
We definitely encourage you to act a bit like Panera by offering surprise rewards to your customers. This elevates your loyalty program above the rest and makes it more interesting. With multiple loyalty cards in their wallet, you want yours to stand out.
#2: Provide Great Service
According to a Sales Force study, 81% of consumers are more likely to give repeat business to a company after they’ve had good service. Customer service is one of the best ways to turn new customers into repeat customers.
On the flip side, poor customer service is one of the most debilitating problems restaurants face. Above all else, you and your staff should strive to provide the best possible experience for your diners.
You may serve the best food and provide dynamite ambiance, but if your service is lacking, you’ll have a hard time turning new customers into repeat customers.
Here are a couple of important notes regarding customer service:
- Every diner should be greeted upon walking in the door. Imagine this scenario: a couple walks in the door. They are greeted immediately. The staff member asks them if they’ve dined at your restaurant before. If the answer is no, your staff member says, “Oh, well, thanks for trying us out!” Then, when the person is done eating, they are asked, “Do you have any feedback on your first visit? We’d love to have you back. On Saturdays we have a pasta special, or you can try us for happy hour every day at 5 pm.” You’ve just treated your new diner as well as you would treat a guest at your home!
- Yes, the old cliché is correct – the customer is always right. Even if you know they are wrong, show them you care and are empathetic.
- Good customer service involves all of your staff, not just the servers.
- Always ask customers for feedback before they leave. This could be a comment card at the table or the manager walking around and asking.
#3: Offer Online Ordering and Curbside Pick-up
Not all of your customers want to eat out, but many of them don’t want to cook. Make it easy for busy diners to order online and pick up their food at your restaurant. Consider adding a special door just for pick-up orders.
By offering online ordering, you make it easy for new customers to become repeat customers by offering them flexibility and ease of ordering.
A responsive, mobile-friendly online ordering page is vital. Be sure and test it and make sure it works well. When it comes to your pick-up area, make sure it’s staffed and diners don’t have to wait. After all, that’s why they ordered online.
#4: Start an Email List
Perhaps your new customer loved your restaurant, but because it was only once, you aren’t top of mind. Help the new diner remember you. Invite them to join your email list. Offer this in-restaurant, on your website and across social media. Make it incredibly easy for your customers to sign up.
Once you have their email, you can continue to “touch” them with periodic marketing. You can remind them of your loyalty program, invite them to special events, announce new menu items and share tips. At any time, you can also throw out a special deal.
An email list is vital to today’s restaurateur. (tweet this) It’s a perfect tool to turn new customers into repeat customers.
#5: Follow Up with Your Customer
A great way to create repeat customers is to follow up with them after they’ve dined with you. We already mentioned an email list – this is fundamental to this follow-up process.
Following up is simple, really. Compose a short to-the-point email that thanks your diner for their visit. Send this no more than two days after they’ve eaten at your restaurant. Don’t try to sell them anything. This is just a thank-you note, an important gesture that lets your customers know you care.
Your restaurant’s most important asset is its customers. Whether they are first-timers or return visitors, you should treat them all with the same respect and care.
Be a good listener and provide your customers with what they want, and you’ll be well on your way to turning new customers into repeat customers.
Ready to add online ordering to your restaurant website? It’s a great way to offer flexibility to your customers. We’d love to help. Just request your complimentary consultation today!