Proven and powerful strategies for success in the food service business
If you are in the business of serving food, you know how demanding it is to run it. Good food is the result of a variety of tasks, all performed in a time-bound manner by a group of people. But does produce an array of mouth-watering delicacies alone guarantee success in this business? You know it doesn’t. The even bigger challenge is in attracting customers to you and making them loyal to you. In other words, success lies in how well you market your business.
Most restaurants and takeaways operate in an intensely competitive environment. This makes it even more important, yet difficult, that they use smart marketing strategies to win and retain customers. The advent of the Internet and online marketing has opened up a range of opportunities for food service businesses to connect with potential customers and thus reap the rewards of customer loyalty.
Here we look at some proven strategies that you can adapt to win and retain customers.
1. Top class service
This is, in fact, a no-brainer. You should leave no stone unturned in your efforts to please the customer. Make them feel important. Service their orders without undue delay. Give all relevant information to help them make their purchase decision.
All key decisions in your restaurant should be taken with a view to serving the customers better. A customer-focused business sees customer service as its primary goal and everything else as incidental to it.
2. Listen, listen and listen
Keep your ear open for customer responses. This is the quickest and easiest way to find out what is going right with your business and even more importantly, what needs fixing. Listening is instant feedback and it is of immense value for the serious business owner.
3. Have a system to receive and solve complaints
Customers often complain to you only if they are provided an opportunity and feel that something will be done about their complaint. Courteousness and a genuine willingness to entertain and solve complaints should be the hallmark of your customer service. Admittedly, there are small section customers who are just too hard to please and given to grumbling. We are not talking about them. The average customer raises a complaint only if it is genuine and it is an opportunity for you to win his loyalty. Never let go of it. Once you make a customer happy by solving his problem, he not only returns to you, but tells good things about you to others as well.
On the other hand an unhappy customer is ten times more likely to tell about their bad experience to others as a satisfied customer. This makes it even more important that you should always keep your ear open for complaints and solve them.
4. The concept of life time value
A loyal customer base should be the primary focus of a food service business. A loyal customer does repeat purchases from you for a long time. This is what the concept of life time value is about. However, creating a loyal customer base calls for considerable time and effort in engaging with them on a personal level and creating a sense of belonging in them. The first step towards this is collecting the details each customer that comes to you. Some of the proven methods to create and grow a customer base are:
- Discount coupons
- Loyalty points
- Greetings on birthdays, anniversaries, festive occasions
- Privilege cards
- Occasional freebies
Loyal customers automatically refer others to you and this creates a virtuous cycle of a constantly growing customer base. But supposing you incentivise your customers to bring new ones? This can be double rewarding. Your customers will then make a conscious effort to refer others to you. In other words, having a referral programme will speed up the growth of your customer base.
A typical referral programme involves giving a gift, freebie or discount to each customer who refers a certain number of new customers. Many restaurants have implemented referral programmes with good success.
Internet and food service business
As mentioned previously, the Internet has now emerged as a major advertising and marketing medium for all types of businesses. Data from research agencies suggest that about half of all takeaway sales in the United Kingdom are transacted online. This is expected to grow even further.
All rules that apply to winning customers in the traditional system equally apply to online marketing too. In fact, the Internet provides a quick and cost-effective medium to attract customers and create a loyal base of them. In fact, all the strategies mentioned above can be implemented quickly and easily over the Internet.
eTakeaway Max™ is an online ordering system developed by VenturesSky Limited, UK to help restaurants and takeaways win big in their business. It comes with a set of remarkable features that help them get and retain customers easily.