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13 Tips to ensure your restaurant and café customers keep coming back

As a cafe or restaurant owner, you would want your customers to keep coming back.  Even better, you’d love your patrons to tell their world how great your establishment is, or to bring back all their friends and family.  It not only drives sales, but it is also gives a sense of fulfillment when you see your customers happily sipping coffee, or enjoying their meal.  So how will you ensure that your customers keep coming back to your restaurant or cafe?  Here are some tips:

1. Train your employees well.  

Customers will always have questions, and your employees are the front-liners of your business, so make sure they are knowledgeable about the business, and your products.  Their manner should be that they want to be there, not that it’s simply a job. 

2. Build rapport with each and every customer.  

You can do this by creating small talks with the customers.  For example, you notice that the customer has a book in hand.  Just ask how the book is going, or if he or she is enjoying it.  Don’t overthink it, just be yourself and be observant. 

3. Learn your customer's names

We all like our names.  Most cafes ask for the customers’ names, not only for their cups, but also to build rapport.  Just make sure that you get the name and spelling right!  You take a booking you get people’s name. 

4. Keep customer records

If you are a quality restaurant, why not start keeping customer records.  From their first booking, you can take notes from their requests.  They prefer a certain wine or like their steak medium rare, do they prefer the salad dressing on the side, or are vegan or allergic to nuts.  If they order steak again and your waiter asks “would you like that medium rare Mr Thompson?”    You can bet that person will notice and WILL be impressed.  

5. Maintain cleanliness

Ensure cleanliness of the entire cafe or restaurant.  Put yourself in the customer's shoes.  Of course, you would want to go to a cafe with clean restrooms.  So as a business owner, make sure that your cafe is spotless.  Consider the little extras, like a hand moisturizer in the restrooms.  

6. Provide excellent customer service.  

As customers, we all want fast and great service from the places we dine in.  So as a business owner, you need to make sure that your employees are taking care of your customers, and providing quick and efficient service. 

7. A little bit of etiquette goes a long way.  

Are you staff trained to serve on the right, and remove plates from the left.   Do they always use their own please and thank you?   Do you ensure all meals for a table come out at once.  Well-mannered dinners will not commence eating until everyone has been served; your customers won’t have a great experience eating a cold meal because the delivery was so staggered.  

8. Allow customisation.  

We all have our own likes and dislikes, and one way of keeping your customers happy is by allowing them to personalise their meal or coffee.  You want your beef or bacon cooked well done or rare?  Would you like an extra shot of espresso for your latte?  Your customers will feel that their meal or their coffee is made especially for them.

9. Competitive prices.  

Yes, you need to stay afloat in the business world, but you still need to make sure that your prices are fairly competitive with other similar businesses.   The better the service and quality of food, the less price impacts.  It’s all about perceived value.  

10. Entertainment.  

Sometimes customers just want to hang out with friends.  To make their time worthwhile, try having some board games available or having a singer.  You can also organise theme nights.  Another example is having a local musician come in and play some relaxing music while your customers dine.   Ensure they are not too loud and often dinners want to chat too and not be drowned out by the music.  

11. Update your menu regularly.  

Aside from having your standard menu, try offering new selections every once in a while.   You can also try having theme nights every week so your customers can enjoy something new.  A nice tough is “Today’s Special” or “Todays Feature Dish” which is something different, unusual or special.   If you are a Pub style establishment have it on a white board, otherwise ensure staff advise guests of it when providing the menus.   

12. Offer discounts, rewards or promos.  

This is one way of driving sales, as well as boosting customer loyalty.  There are rewards apps available for download, and since customers are already using their smartphones, then you can use it to your advantage.  If you have a loyalty card, say where someone gets a free coffee after 10 buys, click off the first 2 as a ‘gift’ to get them started.   An empty unclicked card isn’t enticing to use; something started will keep them coming back.  

13. Get customer feedback.  

Allowing your customers to provide feedback will let them feel involved, plus it’s a good way of knowing what your cafe or restaurant needs to improve, and what is currently working – or not.  Be aware, they are likely doing it anyway on social media, so be sure to always provide a great service.   Asking how they enjoyed their meal is important and if there was an issue, be sure to address it immediately and on the spot.  A certain degree of damage is done once they get in their car and write a scathing review online or share to their 1500 friends that the meal was just awful.  Social Media is here; so use it to your advantage.   

At EnviroChill we are also passionate about customer service and ensuring we help provide restaurant and café owners and chefs with clean and hygienic refrigeration using the latest technology.  We will help you prolong the life and quality of your produce, reduce electricity costs and ensure your customers have only the best quality food on their plate.   Call Trinity on 0415 168 729 for a genuine free trial.