With the holiday period well and truly over, we’re curious to know how business is going in your restaurant.
Maybe you’re battling through a bit of a natural slowdown? Or, perhaps you made such a good impression on the newbies you attracted during the festivities that they’re now streaming in for more?
We hope it’s the latter, but either way, it raises the question of what you can do to keep customers coming back to your restaurant over the long-term?
We may not be restauranteurs, but we do think we have an answer – staying consistent and keeping things fresh.
That might sound like two completely contradictory things but indulge us for a moment!
When it comes to consistency, what we’re really talking about is standards and professionalism – the quality of your food, the speed of your service, and the knowledgeability, efficiency or friendliness of your staff. Once they’ve enjoyed a certain standard at your restaurant, your clientele will expect it every time. Be sure to live up to that expectation!
However, while your customers may appreciate consistency in standards, that doesn’t mean they want every visit to give them the exact same experience. Today’s restaurant goer will expect to be entertained with regular menu changes, specials, events and offers.
Getting the balance right might seem tricky but here’s the thing – attracting new customers can cost businesses up to five times more than what it takes to master repeat business. Being a bit more pro-active about customer retention is definitely worth the effort!
By using the technical capabilities of a modern POS system, here’s a few areas you can make a start on right now!
From front-of-house to service, having staff that demonstrate a good knowledge of the menu, ingredients, health information, specials, accompaniments and even wine pairings can be key to creating a positive dining experience. While this will require you to be on the ball with training, it doesn’t have to be a continual memory test for your staff. Instead, use the features embedded in your smart POS system to store this type of additional information so that servers can access it at the touch of a screen.
Understanding your customers
Showing signs of recognition to your regular guests – their names, drink/ food preferences etc – is another art practiced by good service staff. If you’ve got this cracked, why not go the extra mile by giving such frequent fliers some VIP experiences (a bottle of fizz on their birthday or anniversary perhaps).
Understanding your restaurant customers can also be practiced at a different level. You can use sales/ inventory data within your POS to identify the most and least popular choices among your clientele (and so better streamline your menu). And, there are now many POS applications which allow you to run loyalty schemes/ promotions or use an integrated customer database to communicate specific messages (e.g. around new menus or events). Increasing exposure to your restaurant like this can be a great way of bringing repeat business – just don’t overdo it and stick to a mantra of being relevant not pushy!
Fresh and flexible menu
Planning menus can be a labour of love (or not) for any restauranteur. If you want to keep things simple, the best advice is to maintain the staples or ‘favourites’ while freshening things up with specials, seasonal offerings and a few twists on some old favourites.
Menu flexibility is another area which is becoming increasingly important to your customers. Food allergies, intolerances, dietary preferences and plain old likes/ dislikes can all come into play. Show your restaurant is accommodating by having some planned substitutions to hand.
The good news is that, once again, a smart POS can help you achieve all of this. Adding new menu items or variations can be done with ease and reporting functions can give you the data you need to determine exactly how well any particular item on the menu is performing.
While customers will expect the service at a fine dining experience to take a bit longer than at a quick service restaurant, being unnecessarily slow can be a big factor in preventing your customers from ever coming back.
To improve the speed of table service, why not introduce some mobile POS devices that can send orders straight from the table to the bar or kitchen (meaning other staff can begin preparing them much quicker).
Once they’re done with their meal, most customers like to be able to pay and leave without a fuss – even if they are splitting the bill six-ways! Your POS payment integrations can provide all you need to take payments quickly and split those bills with apparent simplicity – ensuring your customers leave with a fantastic last impression!
Using technology like advanced POS systems to enhance the customer experience is something which many restaurant owners are now taking advantage of. Get in touch with the Good Till to find out how your restaurant can leverage its POS system to keep customers coming back for more!