Posts Tagged ‘brand building’

Creative Strategies to Entice Diners and Build Loyalty during a Recession

December 14, 2012

The recession has changed the face of the restaurant industry, and those in the business are now looking for ways to retain and build their consumer base. Consumers are still eating out, but their needs and values have changed and it’s important as a restaurant owner to recognize that shift and adapt accordingly.

What’s important now is to provide a unique and exceptional service that customers value and to focus on strategies that build their loyalty toward your business.

Gimmicks to Bring People in and Give them a Rewarding Experience

As you know, customers love to feel that they are receiving great value by patronizing your business and there are several promotional gimmicks you can use to bring them in. One way to do this is to run differing discount promotions regularly throughout the week so that people have a reason to put you on their calendar.

For example, you might offer a “buy one-get one” deal on Wednesdays, a free scoop of ice cream to kids who come in with their families during lunch hour on Sundays, or perhaps a “date night” special on Friday’s where couples get half off a nice bottle of wine when they buy a meal.

Other promotional gimmicks that work well include loyalty reward programs, small contests that people can play while they eat, and a free dinner roll or chips to start the meal, to name a few. Your success with these types of promotions is limited only by your creativity and they can be a fun and rewarding tool to create a strong customer case.

Atmosphere and Experience is Everything

When people dine out, they’re doing so because they are seeking an experience. Creating an enticing atmosphere in an establishment entails more than simply having a little mood lighting, though, of course, that helps too.

It also includes factors such as the hospitality and warmth of your staff, the quality of your food, the timeliness with which it was delivered, how the layout of your establishment facilitates or discourages privacy and conversation, as well as whether or not you offer entertainment.

Fortunately, all of those points are easy to accommodate with relatively little cost. Investment in training and retaining quality staff and adapting your business to facilitate a pleasing dining experience goes a long way toward creating and retaining loyal customers.

Target Social Trends and Appeal to Customer’s Sense of Well-Being

One of the smartest ways to set your restaurant above the crowd is to demonstrate its commitment to the health and well-being of the community it serves. This can be done by offering health conscious or organic menu items, buying produce that is sustainably or locally produced, or even by giving a small percentage of a customer’s bill to a charitable cause.

Because today’s consumers dine out with more discrimination, appealing to their sense of health and well-being is a powerful way to reach out and claim their attention. Everyone loves to feel like they are supporting a good cause, and businesses that build their reputation around these types of ethical cornerstones stand out and make people take notice while creating a fiercely loyal customer base.

With the costs of operation rising and customer’s budgets tightening, survival of your restaurant depends on your ability to creatively adapt and respond to today’s situation. Focus on innovative ways to build customer loyalty by offering a valuable service experience is the key.