Could you confidently say that majority of your customers will come back to your café, restaurant, or bar, again in the next month? Probably not. The question is why not? Repeat customers are based on two important factors, the product you’re serving and the customer service. These two factors are not only important on their own but they work together to create a culture that attracts people.
Let’s start with the item you’re physically selling. Whether at a restaurant, café, bar, or other food service area, the food/drink product is what the customer is physically paying for, and therefore it is your job to create a product worthy of its price. A good idea is to create a product with good quality ingredients that is consistent, and something you are proud of.
Presentation is also key for the consumer eye and for advertising. If you can present your product uniquely and effectively you are further ahead than you could imagine. Good presentation is extremely pleasing to the eye, so try to create something different that mystifies or surprises the customer. The customer is then more likely to take pictures which are shared to friends, family, and social media, creating effective and FREE advertising for your business.
As important as the actual product is, customer service can make or break the deal.
Imagine you’re at a café ordering your coffee on the way to work, the barista is snappy, in a rush and as fast as she takes your money, she calls “next” and tells you to step aside. You get your coffee handed to you a few minutes later, without a word, and you leave. In a situation like this nothing besides the coffee was great about your morning, and you probably feel no real reason to go back there besides the coffee, which alone is only powerful to a certain level. Now imagine that you walked into the café, and you were greeted with a warm smile and cheerful “good morning”. Your order was taken, and your name (Fred) was written on your cup with a little smiley face. Once your coffee was made it was handed to you by a cheerful young lady, who looked at your name as she passed you the coffee and genuinely said “I hope you have a great day Fred, come back soon!”.
Instantly you feel a connection to the place, the friendly people and you like the positive culture. You now want to go back not only for the amazing coffee but also because it created a positive impact on your day. Here are four different strategies for your business.
- Create a vibe. Be passionate and outgoing about your food, drinks and the business, this goes for not just the owner(s) and manager(s), but all the employees. Share your happiness and passion with those around you, because it truly is contagious. Be the person known for your great personality, spreading your name around so that people come back because they like YOU as a person and associate you with the company. (If you are an employee this is also a great way to make yourself indispensable to the business.)
- Create a Personal Experience. It is scientifically proven that people love hearing their own name. As soon as you can try to find out your customers names. Be sure to not overuse the name as you don’t want to come across as forward or to familiar but use their name at least once. When appropriate always use pronouns such as Mr. Fred, to show respect. It’s also a good idea to do something special for the customer, like giving them a free entrée, sample product, or discount when the opportunity arises. Most importantly show interest in them as a person, recognize things that are important to them, such as birthdays our anniversaries. At the end of the day, we are all human, if someone seems unhappy go out of your way to brighten their day and show kindness, creating a positive feeling they will never forget.
- Create Advantage out of Problems. Nothing is perfect and therefore it is very important to be prepared for when things go wrong. In the case that there is a problem train your staff to listen to the customers concerns and ensure they understand what the problem is. Never interrupt a customer and always stay calm and collected. Apologize to the customer for the inconvenience but don’t offer excuses, as it can seem like a desperate way to get out of a situation and blame someone else. Resolve the issue and turn the negative experience into something positive, by offering a freebie, or something that will make the customers day. It is important that the customer always leaves happy.
- Create a Reason to Come Back. the main idea is to create a reason that the customers want to come back. Maybe it’s a loyalty program that offers them a free drink, dessert, etc. that they will get for example, on their 8th visit. Maybe you provide some sort of entertainment such as a coloring sheet, family craft, trivia night, a competition, live show, free live streams to big games and events, etc. Perhaps the reason they come back is because they feel comfortable and relaxed. Whatever it is find out your target customers, and their wants and needs list.
Build your company as a recognizable place for not just the amazing food, drinks but the customer service that creates the personal connection your business needs.
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