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Building a Loyal Customer Base

Building a Loyal Customer Base

Whether you have just opened your doors or have been operating for a while, knowing how to drive foot traffic is a vital step for any operator. Many first-time operators fall into the trap of only focusing on getting in new customers, with your regulars being an afterthought. The fact is it's harder to get a new customer in the door than to get them to return.

So once you have them in the door to keep that steady flow of foot traffic, you should be converting as many new customers into lifelong fans by connecting with them.

How do you go about getting to those customers?

Building a long term relationship is key to generating consistent sales and a loyal fan base.There are many strategies you can adopt to reach customers and, it starts with getting a little creative and focussing on interacting with your guests.

The Big secret is to be proactive about collecting the contact information of the people who show up at your establishment. At a minimum, you should be collecting names, emails and birthdays.Once you have a list going, you have a direct way to engage with customers. Birthdays are an excellent way to engage with your customers and to get them into your store. A birthday club is an excellent way to get the contact details required to engage with your guests after their dining experience.

A simple strategy to starting a birthday club/promotion.

At the beginning of every month, send an email to people with a birthday that month encouraging them to come in for a free meal for their birthday or offer a discount.

Some tips to run the campaign:

1) Offering a free meal is more effective than offering a free dessert after a meal or a free drink for their birthday.

2) Set yourself a budget. For example, R100.00

3) Try not to limit it to their actual birthday. The idea is to get people in the door; limiting it to their actual birthday hurts your chances. No one is going to come in alone to celebrate their birthday. They'll want to bring a guest or two. Remember to make sure you get them all on the list too!

Leverage your customer list.

Use this list to email special offers for the week. Go beyond emailing, start a WhatsApp list too. With email and social media, you have no way of controlling when a person sees your message. With WhatsApp, you can be certain the majority of your messages are seen within minutes and you can send messages at the right time to reach hungry bellies.

Keep track of your older customers/regulars and the new ones will take care of themselves.