Cafe Owners Advice - 6 Tips For Growing Customer Patronage

Customer loyalty and retention are important to your bottom line. Because they are so significant, you want to nurture the patronage of your customers.


According to Nation’s Restaurant News, the following is true of your loyal café customers:
• Loyal customers visit your café on average 66 times per year, while non-loyal customers visit only 17 times.
• Nearly 90% of your loyal customers will recommend your café to someone else.
• More than 50% of restaurant customers say they are loyal to their chosen meal spot.

Yet, even with these statistics, most of your customers never come back for a second visit. That is nearly one billion dollars in estimated sales that restaurants lose out on.

To help you avoid lost revenue, in this post, we provide some advice for café owners. Here are six tips for growing customer patronage.

Tip #1: Provide Exceptional Customer Service

The most important thing your café can do is provide customer service that is exemplary in all ways.
This means going the extra mile every day, all day.

Your café customers will remember the service they received at your establishment long after they remember what your food tasted like.

Customers remember the good treatment, and this often results in repeat business. Treat them bad just once, and you’ll never see them again.

When it comes to customer complaints and problems, handle them with kindness and empathy. It’s easy to feel defensive, but it’s important to remember that old adage that says the customer is always right.

An unhappy customer will tell many people of his bad experience. Resolve issues quickly so customers only have good things to say about your café.

Tip #2: Treat Your Employees Well

Your café culture has a direct impact on the ambiance of your café, and it can have a direct impact on customer loyalty.

Your servers are the front line of your café. They communicate intimately with your customers. If they are unhappy at work, it will reflect in the way they take care of your customers.

Customer loyalty begins with your staff. Consider it a trickle that starts at the top and increases as it reaches your customers.

Earn your employees’ respect. Do what you can to increase employee morale. Communicate with your staff and resolve their issues as you would your customers’.

Be free with the positive reinforcement. This encourages employee loyalty which then rubs off on your customers. Your guests can tell if your employees enjoy their job which in turn makes them respect your café.

Tip #3: Create a Customer Loyalty Program

Customer loyalty programs are a win-win.

They’re good for you because they encourage repeat business. They’re good for your customers because they earn a reward.

Customer rewards programs turn your good customers into really great ones, and in the long run, these programs don’t cost you that much.

Loyalty programs work because your customers like to play the game. They like to feel like they’re getting something in return for being loyal to your restaurant. This comes in the way of discounts.

You’ll find many different ways to create a loyalty program. Crunch the numbers and do what works for you. Consider incentivizing customers with bonus points throughout the year as well. The unexpected does wonders for customer retention.


Tip #4: Be Consistent and Reliable

If your food is terrific on Tuesdays but not so good on Saturdays, you’ll have a hard time growing customer patronage.

Your reputation is tied to your consistency and your reliability. The more stable and dependable your café, the more customers you’ll retain.

Your food as well as your service should be the same any day of the week. Provide your customers what they expect, and they’ll be back for more.

Tip #5: Personalize Their Experience

Think back to the late 1980s-early 1990s comedy, Cheers. The first thing that comes to mind is the theme song, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name.”

That’s what your customers want. They yearn for a personalized experience. Walking in to your café and being greeted by name makes your customers feel special.

They immediately feel welcome, and you’ve instantly earned their respect. The personal touch keeps them returning again and again.

Train your staff to greet customers by name, and if they don’t know it, to introduce themselves. Create an atmosphere of welcoming warmth to encourage customer patronage.

Tip #6: Use Social Media

Another way to increase customer retention is by connecting with your customers through social media.

Share original, valuable, funny and educational content to grab their interest. Keep it customer-focused.

Today’s café customers want to interact with your café online. They want interesting content that has great value for them. Entertain and inspire them.

This might be with recipes, videos, tips or an inside view of your staff and your restaurant.

Social media provides you the opportunity to connect with your customers on a deeper level that encourages their loyalty.

Final Thoughts

You’ve got our six tips for growing customer patronage, so now it’s time to put the tips to good use.

A loyal customer is worth more to your café than someone who never visits or only visits once.

It costs about five times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep a current one. This is why growing your customer loyalty is so important.

To increase your café’s retention rates and grow you customer patronage, you’ve got to know what your customers want and give it to them.

The right message and the right offer can do wonders for your customer loyalty.

Provide them value at just the right time, and you’re well on your way to building a loyal customer base who does your advertising for you through word of mouth.

Lastly, good food coupled with exceptional service is what keeps your customers coming back. Take care of these two items, and you’ll boost your customer patronage.

How do you grow your loyal customer base? Have you tried any of the tactics mentioned here? We’d love to hear what worked and didn’t work for you. Please share your comments below.