The pandemic hit the restaurant industry hard, with most businesses forced to rely on takeout and delivery services to stay afloat. Fortunately, the number of customers going to restaurants has begun to increase as the threat of the coronavirus subsides, and we all adjust to living with Covid-19. But while restaurants might be back open, the pandemic has only made the restaurant industry even more fiercely competitive than before.
The success or failure of your restaurant can ultimately depend on encouraging your customers to keep returning. Repeat customers make up a significant proportion of a restaurant’s revenue and are your most powerful marketing tool. In an industry that operates on extremely tight margins, retaining customers delivers a much better return, costing up to five times less than acquiring new ones. Getting your customers to keep returning involves giving them a consistent and positive restaurant experience every time. So, what can you do to keep your customers coming back again and again? Read on to find out.
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What Would Turn Customers Away from Your Restaurant?
When customers are vocal about their dissatisfaction with their dining experience, you know why they won’t be back. But some customers don’t make a fuss and simply walk out, never to be seen again. They often have a good reason why their experience at your restaurant left them upset or frustrated, and you must try to work out what that reason is. Here are some common reasons why customers leave and never come back.
Bad Customer Experience
Poor customer service is one of the top reasons customers don’t return. For 71% of restaurant diners, customer service is very important, even more so than the food and price. With so many restaurants now open in the UK, diners no longer tolerate bad customer service. They now expect waiting staff to deliver a consistent level of customer service that goes above and beyond and are unforgiving if they receive anything less. Delivering a great customer experience secures an ongoing relationship between the restaurant and customer and creates the foundation for a mutually beneficial ongoing relationship.
It should go without saying that if a diner sees that a restaurant is dirty, they won’t be back. People expect cleanliness in a restaurant, and not meeting this expectation is one of the worst mistakes a restaurant can make. There’s no excuse for tables that aren’t cleaned properly between diners, dirty kitchen, food on the floor and under the table and bad smells.
With the Covid-19 pandemic still hanging over us, hygiene and handwashing have never been so important. You may have the most beautifully decorated restaurant washroom, but if it’s not clean, your customers may not hang around long enough to notice. In our survey of over 2,000 UK adults, of the 76% of people who use a restaurant’s public toilets, 37% only do so because they expect better handwashing facilities than elsewhere. However, a worrying 69% say they’ve gone into a public washroom only to encounter unflushed toilets. Meanwhile, 55% of people have used a public toilet only to find no toilet paper.
Poor Food Quality
Customers expect quality when they come to a restaurant, including everything from the food to the wine. If diners don’t like the menu, they won’t come back. Likewise, if they feel they’ve had to wait too long for their order to be taken or receive their food, they won’t return. And if the food is delivered cold, it’s badly cooked, or the ingredients are poor quality, they won’t be coming back.
Diners are becoming more selective about what they eat, and if they feel that there are not enough healthy options on the menu, they may not return. Likewise, with nearly 20% of the UK population now vegetarian or vegan, catering to all dietary requirements is essential if you want to keep bringing people back.
Customers may not return to your restaurant if they don’t feel that you’ve given them a reason to. Once you’ve earned your customer’s loyalty, it’s important that your nurture it by rewarding them. If you don’t make an effort to maintain their loyalty, another restaurant soon will. Rewards can come in many forms from money off to free coffee refills or exclusive member only events.
What Should a Restaurant Do to Increase Repeat Visits?
Repeat customers are crucial to your restaurant business, and you should be doing whatever you can to keep them returning. Most diners already like your restaurant, so you are doing something right. Here are our top tips on how you can increase repeat customer visits to your restaurant.
Provide Infant Care Facilities
Providing facilities for children will not only please families visiting your restaurant but also your bottom line. Customers are more likely to feel a sense of loyalty and want to visit more often if there are well-maintained child-friendly facilities. This can include high-chairs, smaller cutlery, bottle warming facilities, and baby changing stations accessible to men and women. Clean and accessible public toilets are incredibly important, and according to our survey, they took on extra importance for 23% of parents when potty training their children.
Offer Convenient Online Booking
Customers increasingly expect to do everything online, including booking a restaurant table. Online bookings are quicker and more convenient than having to phone a restaurant. Booking systems are automated and can take live bookings, manage floor plans, send booking confirmations and help avoid overbooking. The data available from online reservation systems can also help inform the restaurant of guests’ dining behaviours, enabling them to treat loyal guests to special offers and or guests who are celebrating a special occasion with a more personalised service.
Provide Exceptional Hygiene Facilities
Clean and well-maintained toilets are so important to customers that they are happy to spend more to use a cleaner and nicer facility. Restaurant washrooms are one of the most important parts of a customer’s dining experience and just as important as the food served, if not more so. Customers want restaurant washrooms to be well-maintained, well-stocked and have a regular cleaning schedule. They would also like to see touch-free technology made available in washrooms such as hand dryers, soap dispensers, taps and flushes.
Remember Your Loyal Customers
Loyal customers are the lifeblood of your restaurant business, so treat them well, and they’ll do the same for you. Many reservation systems enable you to record customer allergies, preferences and even their birthdays. Waiting staff can use this information to anticipate a diner’s needs and any special requests. Your restaurant customers will feel that you’ve gone the extra mile for them. You can also introduce loyalty schemes to communicate to and reward your loyal customers. Loyalty schemes are a great way to reward your regular diners and motivate them to keep returning.
Download Our Guide to Serving Up Restaurant Success
Your restaurant washroom plays a key role in your customer’s overall dining experience. But you only get one chance to make a good first impression. At Citron Hygiene, we are experts in hygiene solutions, and we’ve used our expertise to create a free restaurant hygiene guide to help you. Our guide will take you through the steps you need to take to deliver an exceptional customer experience. You’ll find the latest information on the role of hygiene in the restaurant industry and advice on how you can create a winning washroom for your customers.