Have you taken a good look at your customers lately?
Look around your restaurant’s dining room and take out counter tonight. How many people do you recognize? Are there many new faces? Do you know how many have been here once before, twice before, or are old friends who come back again and again?
Knowing how many of your guests are frequent, occasional or first timers is important.
Because this knowledge can help you increase your profits.
One of my clients, a Pennsylvania restaurant, has 224 customers who have ordered online 894 times in the past 10 months, and spent $18,326.
Let’s take a closer look at those customers.
134 of them placed only one order during the 10 month period. They accounted for $2,393 in online sales.
That’s 60 percent of the customers who generated only 13 percent of the sales.
At the other extreme, the top 44 customers placed 637 orders totaling $13,232.
That’s 20 percent of the customers generating 72 percent of the sales.
Looking even closer, we found that only 10 of those customers ordered more than 20 times during the 10 month period. Their frequency ranged from 21 to 60 times.
Those top 10 customers were responsible for 40 percent of all online sales.
That’s 4 percent of the customers who made 40 percent of sales!
This pattern repeats itself over and over again with different restaurants.
A very small subset of customers provide the bulk of revenue. These very frequent customers are your restaurant’s best friends.
With this in mind, ask yourself just two questions:
- How hard is it to bring someone to your restaurant for the first time?
- How hard is it to bring a customer back for the 10th time?
If you answered Very Hard and Very Easy in that order, give yourself 100 percent.
A customer who has visited you 9 times already obviously likes your food, your service and feels comfortable visiting your restaurant.
Many restaurants focus only on attracting new customers.
It is at least as important to bring customers back again and again. Some of your marketing budget should be reserved for just this purpose.
Providing top quality food, friendly service and a congenial atmosphere will certainly help bring customers back. But is that enough?
No! In reality people need to be reminded, they need to be encouraged, they need just that slightest nudge to help them recall what a great meal they had from your restaurant and to give them some excuse to repeat the experience.
That’s what marketing is all about. That’s why restaurants with an active marketing program that reaches out to existing customers do so well.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it. is to convert as many first time customers into occasional or frequent customers as you possibly can.
Get one of your 60 first timers to come back a second time, then a third, then a fourth.
And remember, every time you see a new face sitting at one of your tables or collecting takeout from your counter, keep in mind that this may be the one in a hundred customer who is going to dine with you six times a month, and treat him accordingly.
Rudy Vener is the founder of Pizza Galaxy, which provides online ordering and email marketing for pizza shops, sub shops and other independent restaurants. Learn how Pizza Galaxy can boost your restaurant’s sales with new customers, increased customer visits and expanded ticket size.