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7 Reasons Customers Are Not Returning To Your Restaurant

Retaining customers is vital to the success of your restaurant. Why?

The reasons are in the revenue. Your repeat restaurant customers account for at least 1/3 of your revenue. This is astounding since they may only account for about 15% of your base.

What’s more, a recent Harvard study finds that if you increase repeat visits by 5%, you have the potential of increasing profits from 25-125%.

Your repeat customers are so important to your business. You want to do everything in your power to keep them coming back. Most of these customers already like your restaurant, and their lifetime value is worth a lot to your restaurant.

In addition, your repeat customers are your brand ambassadors, spreading word of your great food and superb customer service throughout your city.

A recent Harvard study finds that if you increase repeat visits by 5%, you have the potential of increasing profits from 25-125%.

Now that you know the importance of keeping your current customers, we’re going to discuss seven reasons customers are not returning to your restaurant.

You often know when complaining customers leave your restaurant never to return again because they are vocal about it.

But, what about those customers who walk out with little fuss? There is always a reason they leave frustrated and upset. Here are seven reasons they are leaving and not returning:

#1: Bad Customer Service

Poor customer service is one of the leading reasons customers leave your restaurant with no intention of returning.

With so many choices available in the restaurant sector, today’s food consumer doesn’t have to tolerate poor customer service. They will simply never return.

We are in the “Age of the Customer,” and it’s up to you to train your wait staff and greeters to provide customer service that goes above and beyond. The success of your business depends on the state of your customer service.

Lumped in with poor service by your wait staff are long wait times. Sometimes seen as a sign of a much sought after restaurant, long wait times can also mean an inefficient restaurant.

To combat long wait times, hire more staff, train your current staff to be more efficient, or take reservations.

If you can deliver on atmosphere, food, prices and service, diners will usually wait up to 60 minutes for food. But, once you fall down in any of those areas, you can bet they won’t return.

Provide great customer service right from the start. Good customer service creates a bond with your restaurant.

#2: Poor Food Quality

Your customers expect quality. When it comes to the quality, they want it in everything from the food to the coffee.

If your customers don’t like your menu, they won’t return. If they had to wait too long to be served, they won’t return. If the food was delivered cold, they won’t return.

#3: Incomplete Menu

Another food-related reason they might not return is the lack of healthy options. With many people concerned about eating well, organic, or gluten-free, it pays to have a few of these options on your menu.

#4: Dirty Restaurant

The atmosphere at your restaurant matters. If your restaurant is dirty, you can bet you’ll lose customers.

Cleanliness is very important to diners. It is often cited as one of the worst mistakes a restaurant can make.

One study even says that a restaurant problem such as a lack of cleanliness is one of the longest remembered by customers and associated with the lowest customer retention rates.

Problems such as unsanitary bathrooms, dirty kitchens, tables that aren’t cleaned when the diner sits down, food under the table and bad smells should be fixed immediately.

#5: Inconsistency

Let’s imagine you visit Restaurant X on several occasions, and you are happy with the food and the customer service. You like it so much that you decide to take a potential client to dinner. You figure you can count on this restaurant to wow this person.

What you are met with instead is a grumpy waiter who seems like he’d rather be anywhere but there. You sit down, and your table is dirty. They clean it while you sit.

You order food – the same as last time – and go so far as to recommend it. You wait and wait. Finally, it arrives, and it’s cold. Plus, your server forgot the bread and hasn’t refilled your drinks.

While you may have had two good visits, this last visit means you will never return.

The moral of this story is consistency is key. If you see problems like this, fix them immediately. It only takes one bad experience to convince a customer to never return.

#6: Negative Word of Mouth

Using the example above, you can imagine how much negative word-of-mouth the situation has the potential to generate. You’ve already lost one customer, and now your restaurant is poised to lose many more through negative word-of-mouth.

Unhappy customers talk, and then they talk some more. In the above situation, restaurant managers should try to address service failures quickly and with the patron to prevent the spread of negative advertising.

#7: No Incentive

Have you given customers a reason to return? Do you reward your loyal customers?

Once you’ve earned customer loyalty, it must be nurtured to be maintained.

It’s important to show your loyal customers you really appreciate them. It’s your job to convince them of their importance.

Do you have a loyalty program? If not, you’ve given them no incentive to return to your restaurant.

You have endless options for rewarding loyalty from rewards programs to special offers and exclusive perks.

Incentives also have the potential of generating positive advertising for your business, so incentives are a win-win.

Final Thoughts

A recent study finds that 70% of restaurant customers never make a return visit, and that many restaurants do nothing to retain those customers and encourage them to return.

The CEO of the company who published the study, Zach Goldstein, says, “Modern customers are promiscuous. With countless competing options, they don’t mind spreading the love. Most brands write them off by focusing on customer acquisition, but customer retention is 7X more cost effective – they’re already familiar with you.”


This post originally appeared on RestaurantEngine


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