How to Keep Your Regulars Happy
Regulars are the heart and soul of your restaurant. They’re the people who come back again and again and they’re responsible for most of the money your restaurant makes. In fact, one survey estimates that regulars make up an average of 75 percent of sales at family dining and quick-service restaurants, 70 percent of sales at casual dining restaurants, and 60 percent of sales at fine dining operations. Clearly, keeping your regulars happy is important. Read on to find out what you can do to make sure your regulars keep coming back.
Always greet them.
This goes for servers and restaurant owners or managers. Just because a regular isn’t seated in his/her section doesn’t mean that a server should ignore him/her. Servers should always greet regulars when they see them and let them know that they’re happy to see them. It can also make a good impression if managers take the time to greet customers and make sure they’re enjoying their meals. Managers don’t need to have long conversations with customers, but they should get to know names and faces and let customers know that they’re welcome.
Have real conversations.
It’s important to learn regular customers’ names and typical orders, but it’s also important to get to know the details of their lives. Treat them as friends and get to know things about their weekend plans, their hobbies, and their families. You’ll get major bonus points if you ask them how their kids are doing or remember to talk to them about their favorite team. When customers have a real relationship with you, they’re much more likely to come back.
Give out occasional freebies.
This shouldn’t happen every day (or else you’d never make any money!), but giving your regulars an occasional free drink or appetizer is a great way to show that you appreciate their business.
Send them discounts.
Whether you send a coupon in the mail or via email, sending regulars a deal for their birthdays, anniversaries, or any other milestone shows that you care about what’s going on in their lives.
Engage with them on social media.
Be sure you follow your regulars on your social media platforms of choice. Always respond to any comments they make about your restaurant and let them know that you’re eager to see them again soon.
Make a great last impression.
First impressions are important, but what about last impressions? Send your customers off with some great service that they can talk about on the drive home—giving them a coffee or soda in a to-go cup or including a thank you note in their carryout order are awesome ways to let customers know how much they’re appreciated.
Your regulars are a hugely important part of your restaurant’s success…make sure they know how much you care about them! By putting some of these tips into practice, you can keep your regulars happy.