Everyone wants to feel important and appreciated. It’s simple — serving restaurant customers as if they’re royalty builds guest loyalty. Implement “The Star Treatment” as part of your marketing plan and it will pay for itself again and again in the form of repeat visits. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- To turn newcomers into regulars, enlist the help of your front-line employees. At regular all-staff meetings, have a heart-to-heart talk with them about the importance of customer service, identifying specific ways to encourage first-time customers to make return visits. Implement the steps the group comes up with. Employees will execute their own ideas better and quicker than ideas forced upon them.
- For ideas that generate repeat business, borrow the Cheers mantra. It’s true: People want to go where everyone knows their name. The easiest way to remember a customer’s name is to ask him or her for it.
- If appropriate for your clientele, take photos with your phone or camera to record fun times guests have in your restaurant. Posting them on social media will help your online presence, but actual prints of photos can be even more effective. Hang the photographs in a public place, honoring your regulars and attracting the attention of your newcomers. Customers will come back to see their smiling face up on the Wall of Fame, and they’ll often bring along their friends, too.
- Do whatever it takes to make customers feel like stars. Learning names and taking pictures is just the beginning. Take a sincere interest in their everyday lives, try to anticipate their needs as customers, make them out to be the most important person in your store. After all, they’re the reason you’re in business.
- Classic marketing ideas still have a place in today’s digital world. If you think the days of collecting business cards in a fishbowl are over, think again. People like to win things, even little things. Regularly draw out names of winners and award prizes redeemable at your store. Meanwhile, use the business cards to add to your database for future marketing e-mails, texts and mailings. It’s also a good idea to stack name-and-address forms near the fishbowl because not everyone has their own card. What can makes this idea a slam dunk depends on what you do with the information gathered.
To become something special in the minds of your customers, heed this valuable lesson in generating repeat business: It’s not necessarily any one big thing you do, it’s a combination of the little things that add up to Slam Dunk Marketing success.
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