An Inside Job: How to Build Repeat Business


It stands to reason that your marketing strategies should include your front-line people. That doesn’t mean you should have employees dress up in chicken costumes and wave people in from the street corner out front. It does mean you should have them join you in the effort to build traffic. How do you get started? Call a staff meeting and ask what each person can do to generate new and repeat business. For example:

Acquiring new customers: Establish an incentive for employees to encourage friends and family to come in for cocktails or to dine at your restaurant. For each party brought in, the person responsible gets to put his or her name in a drawing for a prize at the end of the month.

Increasing the frequency of customer visits: How does your staff get guests who come in once a month to come in twice a month? Invite them. Sounds simple, but it’s an often-overlooked form of hospitality. Insist that hosts and hostesses thank every departing guest — by name if possible — and always invite them back: “Come see us again, Mr. and Mrs. Miller!”

Getting first-time customers to come back: Give your staff the power to pamper first-timers. A pitcher of beer or a complimentary appetizer might be in order. Or samples of house specialties. Or at least a thoughtful overview of the menu and wine list. Take care of your new guests and repeat business will take care of itself.

These are just a couple of ways to build a customer base, and increase customer loyalty. Involving your staff in the marketing process will promote ownership not only in the ideas generated, but also in the well-being of your bar or restaurant. Be sincere in your approach and odds are your employees will be sincere in theirs. After all, employee engagement is a two way street.

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