The regular customer is the backbone of every restaurant’s business. Regulars fill seats and they are more likely to recommend their favorite restaurants to their friends and families. Experienced restaurateur Sam Mustafa from Charleston, South Carolina shares his tips and tricks for new restaurant owners who want to attract regular customers.
Remember their Names
In a larger restaurant, this may be difficult, but make sure that your manager and your most loyal wait staff know the names and families of the regulars. Nothing makes a customer feel more special than walking into a restaurant and being recognized as a regular. It is an ego boost to the customer and creates instant goodwill.
Remember Details About Them
If you can, try to talk to your regulars and learn things about them like where their children go to school and where they work. Asking about these things the next time they arrive in the restaurant will make them feel unique and respected.
Remember Their Drink Orders
If you have the customer’s favorite drinks on the table or bring them when the customers sit down, you will give them an amazing feeling of goodwill. Everyone likes to feel like they are in an establishment “where everybody knows their name” and about their personal likes and dislikes.
Offer special deals to your regular customers. Every few months, have a dedicated night for them where prizes are given away and new food and drinks are featured. Get feedback from your regulars on new menu items. Often, they can be your best resource when you want to know how new menu items are going over with your clientele.
Many popular restaurants have instituted rewards programs for their most loyal customers. Setting up a card system with points that can be redeemed for future purchases is an excellent way to build loyalty.
Happy hour is a fantastic way to get people in the door on weeknights. Offering unique food and drink specials in the early evening on weeknights will drive traffic to your restaurant. It will also create a friendly, convivial atmosphere.
Your regular customers may appreciate meeting the chef and seeing what goes on behind the scenes at their favorite restaurant. If possible, have the chef come out to explain new dishes to your customers.
Make sure that the quality of your food is consistent from day to day. If you need to make changes in the kitchen or in the front of house, do so. Your customers know what a dish they’ve ordered before should taste like. They won’t be able to be fooled like first-time customers.
Consistency also applies to your wait staff. The entire wait staff needs to be trained to respond to customers with the same level of attention and care, even if they are not already regulars. Attracting more regulars is the goal of any restaurant’s operations.
Make the Final Experience Ideal
It’s important that you let your customers leave with a smile on their faces. Occasionally bringing your regulars a dessert on the house will excite them and keep them coming back for more.
Make sure that your desserts and after-dinner drinks are of the highest quality. For example, if you’re serving a cake that you bought from a bakery and kept frozen, make sure that it is completely thawed before serving it. This attention to detail will please your customers and give them positive feelings when they leave your restaurant.
Focus on Your Attitude
Above all, smile. Your friendly attitude will go miles toward attracting regular customers. If you and your staff are unpleasant, there will be no regulars in your business.
Sam Mustafa shares these tips for attracting and keeping regular customers. Regulars are a vital part of any restaurant’s success. When you pay attention to your regulars, you’ll find that your business grows and your reputation within the community will increase.