9 tips on how to draw those customers back to your cafe

When consumers choose one restaurant over another, it’s usually because that restaurant has something unique to offer. Be that restaurant that consumers are going to choose every time. 

Here are 9 tips on how to draw those customers back to your cafe again and again:

1. Quick service

Nothing irks customers more than slow service. Make sure your staff provides not just personalised, but also quick service.

2. Offer FREE WiFi connection

Today, diners are rarely without their smartphones, tablets, or computers. They will appreciate it if they can use their gadgets while they eat, especially those who are waiting for important work-related emails and notifications. And it's an added incentive for someone who's looking for a good place for a working lunch. 

3. Go the extra mile for single diners

It wouldn’t cost you too much to try to give single diners a little more TLC. Adding small extras, for example, is a good way to make them feel a little more welcome and special.

After all, these little favours are insignificant when you consider the volume of customers you serve. Plus, that single diner you just went the extra mile for will want to come back. Who knows – they might even bring friends next time!

Bonus tip: Make sure single diners don’t feel uncomfortable dining alone. Avoid asking if they’re waiting for someone else and never act surprised that they aren’t. You don't want to make them feel uncomfortable. 

4. Be aware of your business score

Always check sites like TripAdvisor or TheFork because these kinds of sites are where both satisfied and unsatisfied customers leave their feedback about restaurants they’ve previously dined in.

Being aware of your business score on these sites will help you determine whether your prices match the quality of your offering.

Do check the “Value for money” section as this is where restaurants generally get good scores.

If you have a bad score, that means customers have not been completely satisfied with their dining experience and may even feel like they have been ripped off. This is also a sign that you might need to adjust your prices.

"My scoring system is really tailored to what I value in a restaurant. Some may value the food even more, or the service, or some other intangible aspect. Scores are in the end just numbers, and shouldn’t be too heavily-relied upon. In the end, it’s really a way to help me categorise and rank the many places I visit. I think any consumer should reasonably expect at a first – good food, followed by service. Any interesting ambiance/décor aspect is tertiary and should not outweigh what matters most. In other words, a fancy fitout won’t save a restaurant serving mediocre food or providing subpar service."  Michael Shen, the restaurant reviewer of ImStillHungry.net

5. Do a satisfaction survey

It always helps to understand your restaurant’s weaknesses. Don’t worry, every restaurant – at one point or another – experiences these.

This is where conducting customer satisfaction surveys help. You will learn what your customers focus on most. And if you do understand these concerns, you’ll know exactly where to improve.

You can send a satisfaction survey to customers via email after they leave the restaurant – or, perhaps send those out through your monthly email campaigns.

6. Ask about your customer’s dining experience

Another way you can get feedback from your customers is by asking them directly about their dining experience. But do this in a natural and non-commercial conversation.

You can also give away cards or flyers with a list of websites they can leave their reviews on your restaurant. Check your customers’ reviews on a daily basis on the Internet, Facebook, social networking accounts and especially on specialised sites.

7. Analyse your competition

Get to know your competitors and look at their approaches. This way, you’ll discover exactly how to learn from them and, more importantly, differentiate yourself as a business.

8. Create a unique selling proposition (USP)

Shared by Eric Cacciatore of Restaurant Unstoppable, come up with a unique selling proposition or what Seth Godin calls a “Purple Cow”. Something that is truly unique and special that you have to offer your local community.

The best brands create USPs that are intangible; things like relatable core values, missions and visions. Appeal to the consumer’s mind and heart. Ask, “how will this make the guest feel?” or “how will the customer think they are being perceived by society when they align themselves with your restaurant’s brand?”

9. Stand out

Come up with ways that really make your cafe stand out in the crowd:

  • Provide the best possible service
  • Offer added value, get creative
  • Perhaps specialise in a type of traditional cooking from a particular country
  • Or pick a theme for your restaurant

A unique offering, a lot of hype build-up (I’m a sucker for following trends), or restaurants whose cuisines are aligned with my preferences (e.g. Japanese) – Michael Shen of ImStillHungry.net

Make sure that guests leave the restaurant with a memorable dining experience. This will not only keep them coming back, this will also give you a competitive edge over your rivals.

Another great tip on standing out from Murray Wright is to come up with a signature item. It can be a dish, drink, décor, service approach, uniforms or a combination all of these things.

"Be famous for one thing that gets people so excited that they talk about it to their friends and recommend you or if they see it being served in the restaurant they want to order it. (If a dish make it a high dollar contribution item!)"

These tips was first published on alsco.com.au's  100+ more tips on restaurant planning strategies article. Alsco offers cost-efficient rental services that are tailored for your business. including first aid kit rentals and training services, linen and workwear, and hygiene systems.