Success Strategies for Restaurateur’s and Retailers
Whether you own a bar or a bookstore, a café or a boutique, a specialty shop or an ethnic restaurant, you face essentially the same challenge every day: How do you keep existing customers coming back for more as you work to attract new customers. Multiple studies confirm that it’s significantly less costly to retain customers than it is to gain new ones, yet businesses typically spend much more of their marketing budget on new customer acquisition. Here are some ways you can inspire customer loyalty that won’t eat up much of your marketing budget.
Make Your Place a Happy Place
People tend to spend more money when staff is engaging and friendly rather than difficult to find and aloof. It’s one reason why people tend to spend more at stores such as Whole Foods and Apple even though they pay a premium for shopping there, or why diners will plunk down hundreds of dollars to be pampered at a high-end restaurant.
People naturally gravitate toward people who care about them. So when your staff is able to project an attitude of caring toward every potential customer in the place, that’s going to cause those who end up spending their money with you to come back and spend some more. Staff can do this by remembering customers’ interests and showing similar items in which they might be interested. This is true for bar, restaurant and store patrons.
At a bar, a regular might just want their usual, but even that seemingly simple effort on behalf of the bartender can go a long way toward keeping that customer coming back day after day. Book and fashion shoppers and more daring bar and restaurant customers may be interested in items similar to those you already know they like. Regardless, the underlying principle remains the same: Nothing beats the personal touch. But how can you give that kind of personalization to customers who aren’t currently in your establishment?
Keep In Contact
Modern POS systems allow you to harvest contact information such as phone number and email address from your customers. Most will provide this information if they’re happy with their purchase and they’re pretty sure they’ll be returning. To help convince them to part with this valuable data, you can offer them something as simple as $5 or a certain percentage discounted off their next purchase.
Once you have this identifiable information, you can keep track of these customers’ preferences. This makes it a snap for you to let them know about promotions, specials, sales or new products that may be of interest to them. If you sell fashion items or home goods, you’ll want to provide a high-definition picture that can significantly increase their compulsion to buy; if you’re having a special on a product they already know and love, a to-the-point text message might be the most effective way to let them know. Texts have a significantly higher open and read rate than email, but for that very reason it can be easy to overuse them and thereby irritate some of your best customers. One quick “stop” command from them, and you lose out on a powerful notification channel with huge profit potential. The same goes for email; you need to find the happy medium that keeps them in the loop without going overboard and prompting them to unsubscribe from your communications.
Monetize Their Loyalty
Another way to keep customers coming back is to offer them tangible rewards for purchasing from you. The simplest way to do this is to allow them to earn one point for every dollar they spend with you. The more they spend, the more valuable these points become. For instance, earning 400 points might equate to $25 in store or restaurant cash, while 1,000 points might equate to $100.
This type of program is best when customers are making relatively small purchases relatively frequently, say 20, 50, $80 at a time, three days per week. Before they know it, they find themselves looking on in delight as their points balance continues to increase after every transaction, spurring them on to earn enough points to unlock a significant reward.
This is a far more effective way of rewarding loyalty than offering an occasional freebie. Establishing earnings thresholds that determine how quickly points accrue toward a reward ensures that customers are spending significant amounts of money prior to being rewarded. It also takes the decision of whether or not to reward out of the hands of the server or manager, which tends to save the business money in the long term.
Let Them In On It
Another way to inspire loyalty is to bring your customers in on the decisions you make regarding which products you’ll carry. Ownership is a powerful thing. If you ask your best customers what they would like to see across a number of categories, not only do you receive some helpful suggestions you can use to guide purchasing decisions; you also show your customers that you value their insight. This fosters a sense of community and compels them to more aggressively refer others to your business. Combine rewards and customer outreach, and you can create a loyalty program that will pay huge dividends going forward.
Customer retention is an art and a science. Through a welcoming environment, friendly staff, appropriate outreach and fulfilling rewards, a retailer or restaurateur can build a following that can last years. Learn how store management software can make this process infinitely easier.