According to a variety of sources and studies, it can cost anywhere from 4 to 10 times as much to attract new guests than it does to retain guests . Another interesting stat: the probability you'll sell to an existing guest is 60-70%, but only 5-20% trying to sell to a new guest*. That's why focusing on retaining customers is more important.
Consider who a new guest can be and often is — a traveler. For those restaurants that are located in high visitor areas (tourist sites, convention centers, downtowns), these new guests are often one-time diners. They come in, spend X number of dollars, then you never see them again.
Whereas a returning guest equals $X times the number of visits. If your average ticket is $40, isn't it more valuable to get that $40 over and over again rather than just once? Just by increasing your guest retention by 5% can actually equate to an increase in business of 25-95%*.
Here are some easy strategies to keep guests coming back.
Kill them with kindness. Besides the food itself, the biggest factor to a customer returning is how they were treated. Were they just another ticket or did you make them feel special? It should go without saying that service should be genuine, friendly, and attentive.
Note the details. Keep notes on guests for future reference. Besides the obvious of names, birthdays, anniversaries, and allergies are things like their beverage or seating preference, are they left or right handed, or do they like to dine longer than your turn times.
Get their contact information. It's important to capture guest information in order to keep in contact with them. The best, easiest, and cheapest method is via an email address whereby you can send them newsletters, coupons, and specials. Some restaurants also collect mobile phone numbers in order to send texts and push notifications, although these are less popular methods to the guests themselves.
Make them a fan/follower. People feast with their eyes and the best way to entice them in is with food photos that will make them drool. Encourage them to follow you on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so that you can tease them with pictures of you specials.
All of these approaches are virtually free. In our next post we'll talk about how to reduce the cost per guest.
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