Our advice for managing your customers

To ensure the sustainability of your restaurant business, implementing strategies to attract and retain customers is crucial. Follow Zenchef’s advice on how to manage customers in your restaurant.

Know your customers

Knowing your customers is an essential prerequisite for building and maintaining customer loyalty.

A CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) can help you with this, but make sure you regularly update your database. Conduct surveys and satisfaction questionnaires, ask for customer feedback, etc .

Examples of customer data that can be collected include:

  • Age range
  • Average budget
  • Demand (regulars, transients, tourists, etc.)
  • Food preferences
  • Possible allergens
  • Consumption habits

This customer data can help you tailor your food & beverage offering and service to customer expectations. Similarly, you can also send customised emailings, bespoke offers, individualised promotions or events announcements.

 

Make sure you regularly analyse your sales to determine which dishes are selling and which are not, adjusting your menu in line with consumer preferences.

Offer outstanding, bespoke customer service

As well as proposing a unique, high quality food & beverage offering, provide outstanding customer service. This inevitably involves excellent staff management.

Train your staff and let them know your customer service quality expectations and objectives.

Here are some examples of best practice for delivering excellent restaurant service: 

  • Greet customers, say hello and give them a warm welcome
  • Say goodbye to departing customers, inviting them to return
  • Be responsive and organised, so that service is prompt
  • Anticipate customer needs
  • Make sure your work clothes are clean and tidy
  • Do not let stress show
  • Master the art of table service (serving to the right of the customer,  serving drinks without the bottle touching the glass, etc.).

Servers must be fully acquainted with the menu, so that they can make recommendations, as well as describe the dishes, the origin of the products used and how dishes are prepared. 

As far as possible, service should be personalised and delivered with a human touch to build a relationship of trust with customers. Call regular customers by their name, mark birthdays with a gesture, start a conversation, etc.

Create a warm and friendly environment for your customers

To ensure you give your customers a memorable experience, do not neglect your restaurant's environment. Your dining room should be welcoming, friendly and aesthetically pleasing. The interior design should be clean and contemporary, the furniture comfortable, and table linen and crockery of good quality. 

Whatever type of restaurant you operate (fast food, traditional food, international cuisine, etc.), pay attention to every detail of the design of your space: adequate lighting, music at the right volume, harmonious decor, etc.  

Make booking easy

Booking management software is an essential tool for simplifying customer management in your restaurant.

Zenchef offers owners a booking management module, available on the restaurant’s website, with zero intermediaries or commissions.

With this tool, your customers can make a booking directly online, 24/7, saving you precious time compared to managing phone reservations. 

This software lets you send alerts and automatic notifications by email and text message to your customers, informing them of the status of their booking (confirmation, change in arrival time, cancellation, etc.).

You can also request a card imprint from your customers, which greatly contributes to limiting no-shows. This tool also enables you to accurately forecast the number of covers and anticipate staffing needs.

Deal with unhappy customers

Service that is too slow, a mistake in an order, a meal that is not to a customer’s liking, … every restaurant owner has to deal with criticism or complaints from time to time.  

When dealing with unhappy customers, it is important to listen closely to the person speaking. Keep calm and do not go on the defensive. Rephrase what the customer has said, identify the problem and propose an appropriate solution for the damage caused (comped meal, refund, etc.). 

Also educate your staff on the importance of not taking criticism personally, and encourage them to be patient and tactful when dealing with customer complaints.

Reward loyal customers

To build long-term customer loyalty, implement strategies to reward regular customers. You could offer loyalty programmes, special offers or discounts, for example.

Such strategies will encourage your customers to come back or promote your restaurant. After all, your customers are the best ambassadors of your brand!

For more tips on running a restaurant, check out our other articles: 

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