How to Get New Guests to Come Back


New guests are trying your restaurant all the time. Do you know who they are and, more importantly, do you know how to bring them back? Brush up on your service and sales training and make a commitment to get completely involved in meeting—and pleasing—new guests.

  • Acknowledge them. Your servers should determine whether or not a guest is new to your restaurant and inform you when it’s their first visit. Train servers to ask, “You’ve been here before, haven’t you?” instead of “Is this the first time you’ve visited us?” Even if they’re wrong—and guests are new—servers won’t risk offending regulars. Then, after you hear of a new guest, personally stop by their table and thank them for coming in. You may even want to send over a complimentary drink or dessert. This small investment will pay off huge with word-of-mouth marketing and repeat business.
  • Give them a reason to come back. When new guests leave after their meal, give them a free item on their next visit. Make the redemption good on slower days of the week, and make it worthwhile. Redemption rates are much higher for free items versus discounts, so a free appetizer, dessert, or kid’s meal often works well.
  • Invite them back. It sounds simple, but many hosts, servers and managers neglect asking customers to come back. Add dialogue training to pre-shift meetings and remind employees to say to all customers, “We hope you come back and visit us again soon.” Even better, invite them back for a specific reason: “Come see us again on Tuesday – all appetizers are half off until 6:00!”

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