Cultivating a successful business is no easy task in an oversaturated market that is likely headed toward a recession. However, even in a perfect market and economy, companies within the hospitality industry often struggle to keep newly acquired customers.
In this episode of Breakthrough, Paul Barron explains how operators can better engage and retain customers through his three-step “Triple Power Punch.”
1. Establish points of super service.
Poorly trained staff and lack of consumer engagement are the primary reasons why customers disappear. Employees need to be able to effectively communicate your restaurant’s story to your customers, and their interactions with your customers need to feel genuine.
“The first engagement [with a customer] has to be able to establish the tone of your business,” says Barron. And when engaging with influencers, you need to be at your best. “Every influencer comes to your restaurant for one reason: to be noticed,” adds Barron.
Employees should follow a four-step process: meet, check back, educate, and ask for a comeback. Education could include sharing your specials or describing the unique programs your restaurant offers.
“A lot of servers are embarrassed to [ask for a comeback],” says Barron. “But they have to start being trained to get the ask.” Asking for a comeback could include prompting a customer to schedule a reservation for the next week or inviting them to a wine tasting.
2. Cultivate influencer loyalty.
Barron cites Sweetgreen as one of the most successful companies when it comes to consumer loyalty. Sweetgreen maintains one of the highest customer retention rates of any restaurant, and over 82 percent of its guests use the company’s mobile app.
“The top 20 percent of your guests or customers matter much more than you realize,” says Barron. “You have to create goodwill with your best customers.”
Some successful restaurants add a fee for premium tables, or require a credit card or some exchange to place a reservation. This can severely damage your relationship with current or potential customers—you want to be constantly offering upgrades or perceived upgrades to customers. “Double down on creating value,” adds Barron. “Do something you normally wouldn’t do to get those great guests to keep coming back.”
3. Create the perfect club.
Accomplishing “perfect” is no easy task, especially when it comes to a club. Clubs are a great idea, but they need to be implemented effectively and targeted to the right type of customer.
“Your influencers are the best opportunity you have for new customer acquisition,” says Barron. “The most expensive thing you can do is try and go acquire a new customer.”
Creating opportunities for special influencer engagements and parties is the better route for emerging businesses. Power guests want to connect with other influencers—and if they make great connections at your club, they will remember where they were and share the story of your business elsewhere.
Check out the episode above to learn more about connecting with influencers and crafting the perfect club!