When you think “marketing,” you probably think about ways to bring new guests in the door. Diversifying your customer base does matter, but don’t forget about the guests you already have in your restaurant. Industry facts suggest that you may get more for your marketing dollars when you focus on increasing guest loyalty. How do you do that? Take a look at these five ideas to get started:

#1: Work the Entire Cycle of Service

The key to getting guests to come back a second time is to wow them the first time. Your guests have many opportunities throughout their visit to form a positive or negative impression of your restaurant. This is called the Cycle of Service. If you want to increase guest loyalty, you and your staff need to exceed expectations at every point in the cycle. The end result is guests who leave happy, recommend the restaurant to their friends, and come back for a return visit.

#2: Train Every Day

Every staff member has opportunities to help increase guest loyalty. It’s your job to make sure they not only understand those opportunities but take advantage of them at every step. This takes a daily commitment to restaurant staff training. Follow that training up with rewards programs and on-the-job mentoring.

#3: Think Outside the Loyalty Box

Reward your regulars in ways that make them truly feel important. Structured loyalty programs matter, but their role is to get people simply to return for another visit. What you do with that visit is up to you. Think about ways you can make guests feel important. Institute loyalty ideas from years past such as a Wall of Fame, naming a sandwich after a regular, or out-of-the-blue freebies that don’t require a swipe or a tap.

#4: Connect with Guests Personally

What made you decide to build your career in the restaurant business? Chances are, it was the people. The personal connections that attracted you to this industry in the first place are the very things that will make or break you now. Engage with your guess when they’re in the restaurant and use social media to keep them engaged and coming back. Try not to use your social media accounts as one-way advertising. Create conversations instead.

#5: Keep It Clean

A recent survey revealed that 86% of American consumers form a negative impression of a business when there is a cleanliness problem, such as a clogged toilet, in the restroom. A separate study showed that 79% of customers would take their business to a competitor within a week of experiencing an unresolved customer service issue. Managing the details of restaurant cleanliness will help you increase guest loyalty.

Cycle of Service Restaurant Training 

Our restaurant service training follows the Service That Sells! Cycle of Service, breaks down a guest’s visit into separate steps from the moment guests pull into the parking lot until that final moment when they walk out the door. Developed by restaurant owners for restaurant owners. Click here to learn more.