If you want to stay ahead of the competition or even survive in the fierce restaurant market, gathering as much information as possible from your clients is essential. Creating a customer database helps you have a clear idea on where your business stands, and gives you the information you need to become more proactive in retaining your current customers and attracting new ones.
There are many ways in which you can get this information, from the data provided by your POS system to the good old strategy of just asking. Offering a free beverage in exchange for information or digging for it in the social media, collecting e-mail addresses by using surveys or requiring personal information for WiFi access are only a few methods for populating your database with plenty of data.
If you are not sure about what a customer database can do for you, here are only a few benefits you can derive from having one.
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Tweak your menu
A database that stores information on what your customers consume is an excellent tool in tracking down what your popular menu items are and what you have a hard time selling. Based on this data, you can improve your menu, make sure that you always have available the items you need for your most popular dishes, and eliminate what does not bring you a profit. This can also help you save money by purchasing more of the high-demand items and less of what is rarely consumed.
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Increase sales on slow nights
Your database can show you what the busiest or slowest days of the week are in your restaurant. You can use this information in two ways – first, by making sure that your personnel, inventory and strategy for accommodating customers are appropriate for busy days; second, by using special offers or promote special events to bring in customers on your slow nights. Trivia nights, open mic nights, buy-one-drink-get-one-free nights – are only a few examples of what you can do to fill your restaurant on typically slow days.
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Keep track of repeat customers
The customers you already have are your most valuable assets. Knowing who they are helps you give them preferential treatment and build a long-term relationship that translates into more frequent visits and more sales for you. For instance, allowing them preferential status when reserving a table on a busy night is a great way to make them feel appreciated.
A customer database is exactly what you need to find out who your top clients are. Offering them the choice to join a loyalty program with attractive perks goes a long way in ensuring that they are going to consider you next time they plan on going out.
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Create individual customer profiles
The value of a customer database lies in the connection that you can build with your clients based on the information you collected from them. Knowing more about your clients – from birthdays to schedules and from favorite dishes to buying patterns – helps you make them feel special.
This is because you can customize your offers based on individual profiles and not on generalities. For example, an invitation to celebrate a birthday with a meal that includes a free appetizer or a discount offer notification through the restaurant phone app that arrives just at the time when a customer is usually going out for dinner are great ways to address the specific needs of each client. Do not underestimate the surprise element and the value of making your customer feel more than just a namless part of a mass of unidentified consumers.
Your customer database can also hold information on your new customers and help you convert them into repeat ones. Sending them discount offers for a second visit may bring them back to your door and even turn into the beginning of a long-term relationship.
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Optimize your marketing strategy
There is nothing more important when developing your marketing strategy than knowing your target audience. A customer database can give you clear insights into the demographic of your customer base, and what kind of clients you most appeal to.
Using this information, you can either build your marketing strategy with your current customers in mind, or tweak it, if you wish, in order to be more attractive to other demographic groups and more aggressive in trying to lure them in. “Nostalgic” night themes, such as ’80s or ’90s nights, for example, can bring in a new category of clients who can enjoy a memorable evening and turn into repeat customers.
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Also, take a look at “Branding By Interior” e-book, the only book written on this subject at this time. It brings insight on how you can turn your business into a market-dominating competitor by using human cognitive responses.
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