Are you retaining customers at your restaurant? If not, you could be missing out on a big source of revenue. While repeat customers only account for 15 percent of your customer base, they are responsible for about one-third of your restaurant’s revenue. A study by Harvard showed that if you can increase repeat visits by 5 percent, your revenue has the potential to increase anywhere from 25 percent to 125 percent. That’s a huge revenue opportunity you could be missing out from if your customers are not returning for multiple visits. Let’s take a look at five reasons why customers aren’t coming back to your restaurant.
Problem 1: Poor Customer Service
Diners don’t want to come back to restaurants where they received poor service. Some examples of poor customer service that can determine whether or not your guests return are slow service, bad attitudes, cold food, and servers who won’t make accommodations for your guests..
If your customers experience any type of poor customer service, there may be an underlying issue with your servers. Perhaps they are stressed, too busy, feeling under-appreciated, or they haven’t received adequate training. Regardless of the issue, if it translates to poor service, it will reflect poorly on your restaurant.
To solve the issue of poor customer service, be sure your staff receives training that teaches them to go the extra mile for customers. Each diner should be given the VIP treatment at your restaurant, and encourage staff to remain friendly towards diners throughout their shift. Make sure your servers are well-versed in available menu changes to best make accommodations for special requests. Each guest should be greeted personally when they come into your restaurant and thanked when they leave. If your guests feel welcomed and appreciated, they’re likely to form a positive emotion bond to your restaurant. A good experience leads to positive word-of-mouth referrals, too.
Problem 2: Dirty Facilities
Your restaurant could have the best food in the world, and you know that the kitchen is spotless, but if your guests see a dirty bathroom, all of that won’t matter. Every part of your restaurant should reflect the care you take with your food, especially the bathrooms. If a guest enters a dirty bathroom, their mind may wander and imagine if the kitchen looks the same. Guests will not return if they sense a lack of cleanliness in your restaurant. Bathrooms should be cleaned daily, and staff should be assigned to monitor them throughout the day.
Problem 3: Confusing Menu
If your menu is too long or hard to navigate, you could be confusing your customers. While you may think that you’re just offering everything they might like, customers will be unsure where your focus is and what your specialties are. Large menus take longer to browse and order from, which can add to service time. Every minute that guests perceive their service is taking too long reduces the likelihood that they’ll return.
Make sure your menu emphasizes your best features get rid of your least popular dishes to help focus your menu.
Problem 4: Inconsistency
If a guest visits you a couple of times and has wonderful service and food each time, they might feel comfortable taking a date to your restaurant. However, they show up and are greeted by a rude server. The table is dirty, the food is cold, and the drinks take too long to get refilled. While the diner had a couple of good visits, the last visit means they’ll likely not return.
Giving your best to customers every time they walk through the door is the key. It only takes one bad experience for a guest to never return, so if you see inconsistency issues, be sure to fix them right away.
Problem 5: No Incentive to Return
Do you reward loyal customers and give them a reason to return? Customer loyalty needs to be nurtured once it is earned if you want to maintain it. You need to show loyal customers that you appreciate them and convince them that they are important to your restaurant. One way to do this is through a loyalty program. Special offers and exclusive deals are easy ways to show repeat customers you appreciate them, and they lead to positive reviews of your restaurant.
A recent study revealed that 70% of restaurant guests never make a return visit. It is the restaurant’s job to make sure that customers feel appreciated, comfortable, and satisfied to encourage them to return. If you can turn just a small percentage of those one-time guests into repeat customers, your restaurant could potentially see big increases in revenue. Take a look at how your establishment is performing in these five problem areas and make any necessary improvements to make your restaurant a repeat destination for diners.
Rafi Cohen, a graduate of Baruch College & Brooklyn native is the Co-Founder @ Orders2me, an online ordering platform that gives restaurant owners all the features they need to grow their business in the digital age.
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We are on a mission to help local restaurants thrive in the new digital economy. Our blog is designed to give local restaurants best practices from some of the top restaurants in the world today.