Creating loyal customers is a challenge that many businesses face. The MRF started their 2020 event campaign with a deep dive into how hospitality businesses can drive footfall and increase loyalty. A panel of local hospitality experts gathered in Maribel’s restaurant in Birmingham to share their insights about building loyalty.
Loyalty cannot be measured in a single transaction; it can only be over a period of time. With so much competition, often from the national chains, restaurants have to be ready to invest in long term success. Maribel’s young head chef, Harvey Pertolla, highlighted; “The key is a combination of product and consistency. Customers become loyal when you regularly deliver a great meal and want to come again and again.”
You may have a clever strategy, but its effectiveness is hugely dependent on your team, as they are often the people who face your customers. Hospitality can be a tough industry to work in; if you are ‘front of house’ you can have to deal with demanding customers. It doesn’t get much easier in the kitchen, working in the heat and under constant pressure, your creativity and desire can be challenged. This is something Alex Claridge of the Wilderness, knows all too well;
“Its often long hours and you genuinely need a real passion to do this. It can certainly be rewarding though, we love the fact that I can contribute to red letter days for so many of our guests.”
Loyal customers not only repeat buy, but are also great marketers for your business – they will tell your family and friends all about you. So then how can we create loyal customers?
A key aspect is to have something that stands out in terms of quality but also style and taste. When faced with high rent and rates, you can easily fall into the trap of cheap deals and average ingredients. This will not get you success in the long term.
Customers are looking for fresh ideas and quality ingredients. Creating and maintaining a brand are both different challenges, that need to be met. If you keep chopping and changing to keep in tune with trends, then you may find yourself losing your identity. You could confuse your customers and they are less likely to become loyal.
Always remember that customers do not simply come to you to eat, they are often celebrating an occasion and creating a memory. They should not have to excessively wait, have their orders messed up or have to feel anything other than what your brand has promised them before they arrived. Only a memorable complete experience will lead to a return visit and this is how we start to create loyal customers.
For more information on the MRF and upcoming events, head over to http://midlandsretailforum.co.uk/.
Thank you to the panelists who shared their time and insights;