Unlike any other niche, the restaurant industry has some pretty scary statistics to battle against. When it comes to newbies that are forced to shut their doors within the first year, the calculated percentage still hovers in between 60% and 80%; even those that somehow manage to beat the odds have a 70% probability of failing within the next three to five years.
However, busy the night, there’s no guarantee that the same tables will be booked the following day; in such an uncertain climate, the only restaurant savers are the regulars. Along with marketing, customer retention seems the most crucial rule of prolific business operations in the restaurant world.
So, what drives customers to return back? Relationship building is clearly the key to success, but it’s not exactly the simplest trick in the book. It is, however, a bit easier with CRM solutions – designed especially to make you remember the way your regulars like their cheesecakes, the table they feel most comfortable sitting at and the waiter who always makes them laugh, these customer-oriented systems are essential for surviving the first five years in the overly competitive restaurant industry.
1. Data-Driven & Customer-Centered
The basic principle behind every CRM system is a comprehensive customer database. By collecting and analyzing actionable information about a restaurant’s clientele, this solution allows owners to pinpoint everything from frequency of visits to specific preferences on meals, thus providing a deeper insight into both typical customer behavior and individual perceptions of your brand.
Both, as you might realize yourself, are vital for business growth. Without any intelligence to support their agendas, companies are doomed to crash. That being said, CRM systems are a much-needed solution for keeping all of your customer-related data systematically organized and easily readable.
Whether it comes to distinguishing popular menu items from disliked ones or to identifying factors that make certain nights fully booked, CRM metrics are necessary for further improvement. Once established, a customer database becomes the unfailing script for fruitful communication.
2. Personal Approach
It’s never solely about the food… If storytelling is the most potent selling strategy, then dining ambience is what brings the competitive edge to your industry. In order to attract and retain, you’ll need to deliver a compelling experience that no food lover would be able to resist.
Customer experience is the very focal point of clever branding techniques. Besides promising value, the successful ones keep on insisting on tailored approach. In order to come back, a customer wants to feel cherished as an individual – for restaurant owners, this demand implies knowing each regular by a name, anticipating their desires even before they order, exceeding their expectations every time they do return, and, most importantly, rewarding their devotion.
Regular or not, not one guest is immune to loyalty programs. Whatever yours might be – a happy hour for drowsy businessmen, a weekly discount for happily married or a birthday card for their little ones – you’ll have to get really familiar with their dining habits first. That’s where CRM comes to the rescue: by offering you input on each and every one of them, this solution is brilliant for keeping in touch with your customers. In addition to the delicacies you serve, this kind of personalized relationship building will quickly turn newcomers into regulars simply by making them know that they are being appreciated and respected.
3. Targeting & Retargeting
Once you get familiar with your existing clientele, targeting new crowds won’t be such an arduous venture. However specific, your restaurant’s CRM data will seamlessly calculate an average customer profile for you to use in marketing purposes – in accordance to this valuable information on customer behavior, you can, for instance, create engaging customized messages and promotional campaigns that your potential visitors will find absolutely gripping.
At the same time, these analytics will serve as a base for your email newsletters and retargeting strategies. With only a click, you’ll be able to single out those who haven’t enjoyed your specialties in a long time, ask them for a feedback, and determine the reasons behind such a sudden change of heart.
And since their usual orders, special occasion preferences and dining schedules are already a part of your CRM system, you can effortlessly work out the most suitable action plan for bringing them back once again. Be that a coupon, a discount, or a free cookie catering deal, both targeting and retargeting tactics are effectual only when data-driven
4. Enticement Across All Channels
Discount vouchers, however, are only a piece of the puzzle that we marketers like to call social campaigning. As mentioned once before, restaurant competition is so much fiercer than any other, which is why, in addition to being approachable, your offer has to be alluring as well. The industry’s unfavorable landscape requires as much creativity and uniqueness as possible. Furthermore, a wide coverage of all communication channels is paramount for putting your restaurant on the foodies’ map.
So far, the inclusion of a CRM system has enabled you to gather data, custom-tailor your menu and fill the restaurant’s guestbook. You’ve collected enough information to create targeted ads and retargeting promotions, but now you’ll have to keep enticing across all channels. When it comes to customer retention, innovativeness is the fastest and most secure way to the top.
All customer relationship management systems joggle their figures with the utmost efficiency, but only the best of them allow real-time access to customers, which is why you should dig deep and research far in order to choose the best CRM for your specific needs. When empowered by such an intuitive solution, you can communicate your promotional message directly to the visitors via email and social media, thus staying in touch and keeping the relationship alive.
With an address book on your computer and all roads open, the word of your restaurant will spread quickly. The only thing left is to determine what that word should be, depending on how different customers will interpret it. However individualistic, all restaurant-goers desire the same thing: high quality food, a dashing dining experience and something extra on the side.
Call it a unique selling proposition, the X factor, or a competitive advantage, it’s all the same – in order to stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to find something innovative and engaging enough to tickle their senses.
That’s why social campaigning is one of the most powerful marketing strategies, no matter the niche. Instead of simply inviting guests to try out something new, they succeed in planting the idea straight into customers’ gastronomic minds by encouraging them to compete for an award, partake in an exclusive event or be a part of something exciting and juicy. With CRM-collected data, you can easily create a similar buzz around your feasts and customize them to meet your visitor’s munching needs.
Luckily for aspiring restaurant owners, the market is simmering with powerful customer relationship management solutions. By employing the best one, your eatery will promptly become a crème de la crème of a highly competitive dining scene.