According to these statistics, in 2017 within the UK there were 86,630 businesses operating in the restaurant and mobile food service industry. With so many dining and delivery options, how do you keep customers coming back after wowing them with your service and food?

 

Restaurateurs know that it is by far easier and cheaper to get a sale from an existing customer than it is to go out and scout some new ones. However, did you know that the Harvard Business School advises that, “increasing customer retention rates by five percent increases profits by 25 percent to 95 percent” ? Even with the lure of increasing profit, retention is extremely important because it is these loyal customers that will provide you with regular business through quiet periods and will also help you attract new customers through recommendations.

So how can you improve your customer retention rates you may ask and build this customer loyalty? We have 5 tips below you can use with a bit of help from simpleERB. 

1) Customer Reviews

Reviews are a great way to gauge your customers experience and to also build a public rapport. By responding to negative and more importantly positive reviews, lets your customers know how much you value their comments. In simpleERB, you have the ability to control reviews internally by sending customers a review link after dining. This give customers an immediate outlet rather than going straight to social media. You can then send to positive reviews a personalised email by the tick of a button to thank them and ask them to help by reviewing on your preferred social media platform. Everyone likes to feel appreciated and by just responding to their personal experience can increase their likelihood of a revisit. See our blog post here on evidence that proves how important reviews are and our help article on simpleERB reviewing.

2)  Add personal touches to your customers’ experience

We all know how nice it is to have a simple candle added to a birthday dessert or complimentary chocolates at a special hotel stay. These extra touches are the ones that keep you going back, especially for celebratory occasions. You can add a personal touch, (that won’t break the bank), with the help of simpleERB before they even arrive by sending a personalised text message about their upcoming booking.

When making the customer booking, note down any dietary requirements or reasons for their visit within their booking using quick info buttons or notes. Have staff go through the diary view with “show quick info” option enabled the day prior or on the day and note any of these special requirements. Your staff can then go into each booking and send a personal text advising you are looking forward to; celebrating their birthday/anniversary, aware of their dietary requirements or have the high chairs at the ready with coloured pencils! This will show the restaurant you care about there booking needs and they will already have a positive vibe before walking in the door!

3) Use your customers’ booking data for tailored email campaigns

Tailoring your email campaigns to a specific criteria of your customer database, will ensure you are targeting the desired people who will maximise return and build a unique rapport with those customers. Customers are more likely to read the marketing email you have sent if it appeals to them exclusively. Think about how many company emails you receive daily that you actually open. You can easily narrow down your customer criteria with simpleERB by using the customers export report. Here you can filter customer data to; booking periods, previous booked offers/promotions and your customised quick info buttons. For example; you may wish join the band of restaurants increasing the number of vegan options in your menu. Send an email to all the customers who have been marked as vegan and welcome them to come in and try the new dishes you created for them!

4) Use booking offers for unique loyalty programs

A loyalty program or a competition are always great initiatives to entice customers to come back, which will  hopefully convert them into a ‘regular diner’. Once you have created a stand out incentive for your customers who have dined before, you can then create a private booking offer where you can send them a unique link to book their treat for being a great customer. Only customers with this link can book that online offer you have set up for them. Great example could be a free dessert on your fourth visit. Monitor this with a classic tamp card or have staff observe the customer booking history. When the customer dines for the third time, your staff could send over a personal email from within the customers booking with the link when marking the table ready. 

5) Keep on top of disappearing Customers 

Lastly and more importantly, you need to monitor those customers who are slipping away and entice them back! Like we said right back at the beginning (we’ve gone full circle), it is easier to get a sale from someone who has already dined in your restaurant. The disappearing customer report in simpleERB, which you can set to auto send each month, can help with this by being able to pull the right data. You can export a list of customer who previously dined 3 times in the year but haven’t visited in the past 3 months. Put this information to good use and set up a campaign to get them back in the door with a “we’ve missed you” personalised email along with a private bookable offer of a complimentary welcome back drink.

Apart from these five tips, you could always think outside the box and look at alternatives. This could be looking at setting up a live chat box on your website (click here to see Top 10 Live Chat Softwares ) or using messenger on your Facebook page with customer set FAQ. This allows customers to message you quickly for immediate gratification on trivial queries they might have about menus or bringing a cake which will help build a personable rapport before they even dine.

Image: StockSnap from Pixabay



With Christmas right around the corner (less than 3 months….but who’s counting) and mince pies already stocked on shop shelves, customers are on the hunt for booking the festive season.

Trying to run a smooth restaurant service can often resemble a plate spinning circus act, of trying to get the right balance with staffing, food costs and overheads. Then add to the mix the busy festive season, the dreaded no shows and the last minute cancellations and you could be one plate smash away from a significant hit to the bottom line and turning into the Christmas grinch.

According to an article from Big Hospitality at the beginning of the year, an online booking platform found that “over a third of UK diners say they have failed to turn up for a reservation”. You may ask, is it worth enforcing deposits on larger bookings over Christmas to protect your revenue?

Costs of a No Show / Late Cancellations

So let’s look at the actual cost of a no show. If the no show was for example a Christmas party of 10 and we say your festive 2 course set menu spend is £/$/€25 per person, and your gross profit before staff and fixed costs is 70%  – then this no show costs you £/$/€175 and your profit (or rather contribution to costs) would be £/$/€175 if they had turned up. That’s a big figure along with the extra cost of a few merry sherries to lose, plus the loss of 15-20 min service time to confirm if the customers are actually going to turn up. 

Even if the table was to turn up but only 5 showed due to last minute drop outs, you will still be down £/$/€87.50 and the possibility of another booking of 5 that you might have earlier turned away due to no availability! So you might be thinking from crunching the numbers….if only you had taken a deposit of £10 per head to cover the basic costs for that party booking so that you wouldn’t be out of pocket.

If you are not entirely sure if deposits are right for you, we have another great post looking at the pro/cons of deposits vs. holding credit card details.

Benefits of Enforcing Deposits

So obviously the main reason for deposits is to secure and protect your valuable restaurant revenue but there are also a few other benefits. 

  • Reduce and possibly eradicate the number of no shows

By having clear deposit and booking T&C’s, it will deter parties that book for 3 or 4 restaurants at the same time before finalising their plans. This way you know these larger parties are 90% going to attend – 10% unforeseen circumstances.

  • Efficiently budget for staff and keep team morale

By knowing you are covered financially for larger bookings, you will have a better control on staff rota and not over staff. This can boost team morale by not having to let casual staff leave early due to a quiet restaurant that wasn’t anticipated.

  • Your in control of the deposit

Rather than taking full payment upfront which could discourage bookings, deposits allow you to control and decide if given certain circumstances the customers should have it returned. With simpleERB deposits, you control the booking type that require deposits along with the ability to monitor overdue payments easily with reports.

simpleERB deposits are quick and secure to set up

Deposits are easy to set up within simpleERB with Stripe integration and you can rest easy knowing customers details are safe and secure and not being left around scribbled on paper notes.

You can find below some FAQ articles with information;

If you have any further questions about deposits or would like a copy of our payment set up guide, please get in touch via help@simpleERB.com

Image source – Pixabay



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image sourceSupernico26

 

Have you missed us? Sorry for the radio silence around here the past few months, however, we have plenty of excuses if you want to hear them!

We have been working hard on updates to keep in compliance with the new European payment regulations of SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) and we have been busy developing new smaller features and tweaks to enhance the booking system for you all. 

SCA (Strong Customer Authentication) 

To make sure we are in line with SCA regulations, our tech team have been working away to ensure customer payments with Stripe integration (deposits and card capture) don’t fall through the cracks and decline payments. We did experience a couple of teething problems with the initial switch on, after hours of pre-testing behind the scenes, which unfortunately did affect a few restaurants. So you can see it wasn’t as easy as 1..2..3. However, hats off to the team as this is now live within simpleERB so you can rest easy knowing that customers deposits will now be accepted without any authorisation problems. Especially as Christmas is in sight with customers already making bookings! 

If you don’t already have deposits and card capture set up, please see this link on more information. We feel this is a valuable feature in the lead up to Christmas to help reduce no shows and secure concrete festive bookings.

Snapshot of upcoming tweaks 

We will also be sending out a new release update soon with all the new tweaks to current features to improve the system. A lot of the new updates have come from user suggestions, which we highly welcome. A couple of these changes include;

  • Quick view of advanced cancelled bookings in manager day book (keep an eye out for large party cancellations!)
  • Widget bookings default to mobile number (so customers are not adding a landline to the incorrect field)
  • Historic booking report to show report in covers rather than bookings (more accurate data for forecasting)
  • Cancellation email sent to customers who call to cancel if an email is supplied (for customer’s reference)
  • Restaurant logo now displayed on customer booking confirmations (visual branding and marketing)

Along with the upcoming release notes, we have a couple of interesting blog posts on their way to help ease the pain in planning for the festive madness. So, we are happy to say…..we are back in the ‘blog’ business.



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