Is your restaurant planning any big changes for the new year? With 2019 just a few days away, it’s a great time for businesses to reconnect with customers. This is especially true in the foodservice sector. After the holiday season ends, guests will be struggling to get back into the swing of things. Eating out at a restaurant is one easy way for them to ease this transition.
As guests turn to you for comfort, you’ll have ample opportunities to secure their loyalty. These ideas will come in handy if you’re planning to revitalize your marketing strategy in 2019.
Loyalty apps are a great way to appeal to your younger guests – especially Millennials. This technology is a big investment, and it’s not the right strategy for every restaurant. However, if you have the time and money to build an eye-catching app, it can have a major impact on your long-term success. By connecting with each guest directly through their phone, you have the chance to game-ify the dining experience. Maybe you offer a free dessert for every 10th visit, or a $10 gift card to celebrate their birthday. You might even encourage loyal fans to spread the word by giving them prizes when friends download the app.
The Year in Reviews
More and more, new guests rely on online review sites to learn about new restaurants. How is your business represented on Yelp and Google? It’s not the end of the world if you get a few bad reviews, as long as you respond to them politely. Negative feedback can be just as valuable as a good review, if you’re able to win back the offended customer. Try offering them a free meal or a gift card to get back into their good graces. Within reason, you can also incorporate their feedback. If, for example, a guest is upset about the lack of paper towels in your bathroom, take a look at your cleaning schedule and make some adjustments. On the other hand, if guest is disappointed by the lack of croissants served in your sushi restaurant, you might just have to let it go.
Above all, make sure every communication you write is polite and welcoming. Even if you’re messaging privately with a guest, assume they’ll show their friends everything you say. No matter how negative their feedback, you should strive to appear professional at all times.
Train to Glory
How often do you train your employees in great customer service? It’s standard practice to offer training for new hires, but even experienced servers can benefit from occasional refreshers. Don’t overdo it – your staff may get annoyed if they have to train for 6 hours a week. However, quarterly staff training days can be a huge help to your employees and guests. Best of all, this gives your team the opportunity to voice any questions or concerns you can help with. Maybe one of your servers has a hard time upselling because her dietary restrictions prevent her from trying all of your dishes. Or perhaps a host is struggling to make his early shifts because he has to drive his kids to school. Whatever issues your team may face, it’s up to you to create a work environment that meets everyone’s needs – yours, your team’s, and your customers’.
These long-term marketing strategies help you build your base in a slow, sustainable way. Better employee training, for example, won’t give you an immediate boost in new customers. However, in the long term, a happier staff will do a better job keeping your guests satisfied. Improve the experience for everyone, and you’ll improve your bottom line, permanently.