Restaurant Startup Tip: Keep customers coming back for more

RestaurantOne Fat Frog has been giving you restaurant entrepreneurs tips on how to gain new customers, and slipping in a tip or two about how to get customers to come back for more. We’re back again to give you yet another restaurant startup tip. The Frog keeps its customers coming back by having special promotions and themed-days. Ahem. Big Bang Theory dress up day on Friday, Feb. 21. (Yes, the Frog team will be dressing up. Yes, you get a discount if you dress up and purchase restaurant equipment.) We like to engage our customers, have inside jokes with them, and show them that we care and remember them.

One of the most important things to do to get repeat customers is to observe your customers. Talk to your customers, get to know what their likes and dislikes are. When I was in college, there was a hamburger/hot dog stand in the middle of campus. It was a great pit stop for a quick lunch between classes. Once I started going there at the same time every day, the cook learned my name and my order in a little less than a week. I loved being able to walk up to the stand, make some small talk with the cook, and have my order ready by the time we were finished talking. It was convenient and personalized. The Frog knows it’s all about personalizing the dining experience for the customer.

Another tip from the Frog is to create a mailing list. Use snail mail and email. Like a retail store, ask customers to sign up for emails. Send them monthly, or even weekly discounts and promotions. Reach customers with postcards or photos of new dishes so that there is something new to choose from. Create a frequent customer program, or a VIP program of some sort. It will make the customer feel special, like he or she is included in a special “club,” and they can earn points every time they dine at your restaurant. Those points can be used toward a discount or, dare I say it, free meal.

Advertise for special themes and events, just like One Fat Frog’s Big Bang Theory Discount Day. Think up a fun theme for your customers to indulge in. The Frog is already getting random Facebookers in on the Big Bang-themed day. If it’s St. Patrick’s Day, decorate the bar in green shamrocks and offer drink specials. If it’s not a holiday, make it one! Throw a fund-raising event, or have everyone in the bakery dress up as a different character from “Cake Boss,” or whatever your fancy may be.

Take the time to get to know your customers. One Fat Frog takes pride in personalizing things with our customers. You should too!