When your first launch your restaurant business there is a fair chance that you will be able to create a bit of a buzz and bookings should be brisk, to begin with, but the measure of a successful and profitable eatery is when you manage to get customers to keep coming back for more.
Your aim, if you are going to be a successful restaurateur, is primarily about putting good food on the table, but there are plenty of other factors that all combine to help encourage diners to become regulars.
Here is a look at some ways to build your restaurant into an established local hotspot, including why it pays to be highly visible as an owner, a no-brainer tip that can generate a group booking, plus some other suggestions for expanding your customer base.
Know your customers
There is always a good reason why diners return to the same restaurant on a consistent basis and despite the obvious conclusion that the food needs to be of a certain standard in order to persuade them to keep parting with their cash, there are some other factors that definitely come into play.
Many customers love to know they are not only going to get great service and delicious food but they are comforted by the knowledge that when they turn up to dine they are going to be greeted by someone who knows them and what they like.
Running a restaurant is about creating a dining experience and making every customer feel special, so if you get to know your regulars and go out of your way to look after them each time they come, you are likely to be rewarded with their regular patronage.
Creating a good ambiance
Your restaurant can quickly achieve a good reputation for a relaxing ambiance as well as good food if you think about the layout and how you furnish and decorate the premises.
If you are running a restaurant that is in town and close to offices, for example, you have the opportunity to attract lunchtime diners as well as the usual evening bookings, provided you create an ambiance and a menu that encourages diners to come and relax for an hour.
You can take a look at a site like restaurant-furniture.com to get some ideas on what sort of look you want to create for your restaurant in order to attract diners during the day as well as the night.
Time to celebrate
Another good way of encouraging customers to keep coming back to you is to engage with them on social media and by email.
About half of us tend to eat out at a restaurant on our birthday so that is a perfect example of how you can build up a dialogue with your customers, by asking for their contact details and birthday details and then sending them out a special invite.
You might decide to offer a discount or a free bottle of wine if they want to celebrate their birthday at your restaurant with friends. It also gives you the chance to make them aware of special dining events and offers, all of which helps to build the relationship and get them to think of you when they are planning a meal out.
Finding ways to make the slow days busier
It stands to reason that your restaurant is likely to be busier on a Saturday night than on a Monday, as many diners can’t afford to eat out every night and will pick a day when they can enjoy the evening and take their time.
Try promoting special deals on the slow nights such as offering a fixed price that includes a drink with the meal, or offer to act as a host for a local club so that you fill the restaurant when you might otherwise be scratching around for customers.
Another popular event is to host a wine-tasting evening and even expand that idea to include a food and wine pairing option for a fixed price per head.
Live music can be a draw if you manage to get the right entertainment that appeals to your restaurant clientele.
Some diners don’t want to try and eat a meal with music drowning out their conversation so you try and gauge what works and what doesn’t when it comes to live music events.
If your music night is well received it could become a regular feature and another way of making sure that you get plenty of repeat business as a result of giving customers what they want.