how to increase customer loyalty in restaurant
by Laura-Andreea Voicu

As a restaurateur, fostering customer loyalty is a task you can’t afford to disregard. Loyal customers spend more, they bring in new clients, and visit you often.

Here’s how to increase customer loyalty in a restaurant by rewarding regulars, providing spotless service, offering a varied menu, and more.

5 Factors Affecting Customer Loyalty in the Restaurant Industry

When looking at customer loyalty in the restaurant industry, a recent study by Alexandra Biriukova at the Metropolia University of Applied Sciences had respondents choose five factors that affect their loyalty and rank them based on their importance. The results were as follows:

  1. Range of food
  2. Quality of food
  3. Price of food
  4. Atmosphere
  5. Speed of service

As expected, food ranks supreme in the restaurant experience, from its quality to how affordable it is, and how much variety you offer.

But when thinking how to increase customer loyalty in your restaurant, don’t forget about the overall dining experience, from the ambiance to how fast customers get to enjoy it.

Do Restaurant Loyalty Programs Work?

When you think of customer loyalty, you probably think of restaurant loyalty schemes and programs first, since these are most commonly known to be of help.

We’ve prepared a few restaurant loyalty program statistics that show you just how much your restaurant can benefit from one:

  • 42.9% of consumers say that loyalty programs motivate them to try a restaurant;
  • Loyal customers tend to spend 67% more than new guests;
  • 47% of loyal customers use the program multiple times a month;
  • 59% of customers in the US say that once a brand gains their loyalty, they have it for life;
  • 86% of loyal guests will recommend you to friends and family.

As you can see, loyalty programs not only attract customers to your restaurant, but they also increase the average check value and draw in even more clients.

How to Increase Customer Loyalty in a Restaurant

Put food first

It should come as no surprise that when learning how to increase customer loyalty in a restaurant, you need to prioritize what you do best: food.

Make sure you serve only quality ingredients that are always fresh by having seasonal menus that change according to the produce that is in season. Seasonal ingredients are not just delicious, they’re also cheaper for you to get.

When pricing your restaurant menu, research the market and your direct local competition. If you go overboard with the prices without a clear reason for it, such as much higher quality, people will go to your competitors instead.

Going back to one of the main factors affecting customer loyalty, how do you provide a wide range of food without ending up with an interminable menu?

The answer is simple: add choices and add-ons to the menu that allow customers to personalize each dish with toppings, different types of crust, buns, sides, meat-free alternatives, and so on.

Check out this tutorial to learn how easy it is to customize your menu for more food variety:

Create a customer loyalty program

To increase the restaurant customer retention rate, come up with a loyalty program that will incentivize guests by offering free restaurant rewards, discounts, and special offers only available for loyal customers.

A point-based restaurant membership card is a simple solution that enables customers to win points every time they visit your restaurant or order online.

The more points they accumulate, the bigger the reward. They can choose to use the points for smaller rewards, such as free delivery, or hold out for something bigger like a 50% discount on the check value.

The good thing about a loyalty program is that it allows you to come up with restaurant customer retention strategies personalized for each member based on the information you gather about their food preferences.

For example, someone who regularly orders only vegetarian food won’t be impressed by a discount on your Pepperoni Pizza but will enjoy 50% off your Spinach and Artichoke Pizza.

Offer multiple ways to enjoy your food

Even if you’re trying to find out how to increase customer loyalty in a restaurant, don’t limit yourself to dine-in strategies only.

What happens when a one-time guest starts craving your food again, but they can’t leave the house? You will lose the chance to turn them into a loyal, returning customer.

But not if you enable online ordering and allow them to place a delivery order from the comfort of their home.

Increase customer loyalty with an easy-to-use online ordering system Enable guests to enjoy your food at home with delivery and pickup

Follow this step-by-step tutorial to set up online ordering directly on your restaurant website for free:

Surprise your regulars with restaurant loyalty rewards

Even if you don’t have a restaurant loyalty program, you can still reward loyal customers with special offers and discounts by adding a promo to the menu that can only be redeemed by returning customers.

Using the advanced settings of our restaurant promotion templates, you can set up a promo that only applies to customers who have ordered with you a number of times, for example.

restaurant loyalty programs ideas

And that’s not all. You can also segment the client’s previous purchases by the total order amount or several characteristics of their last order (such as the order type, time, payment method, tip, and so on).

More information on how you can do that here.

Re-engage customers who seem to have forgotten about you

A smart way to increase customer loyalty in your restaurant is to remind clients who are slipping away that they can order again to enjoy a discount or freebie. How? By sending them an email with an irresistible offer.

how to get repeat customers restaurant

Our Autopilot service identifies 60% of the oldest customers who have placed an order with you in the last 180 days. Then, it sends a series of emails that you configure with discounts and benefits that will motivate them to order again.

Send targeted promotional emails to entice customers to order again Set up your campaigns in minutes and let them run on Autopilot

Learn more about increasing customer loyalty and putting your email marketing on Autopilot here:

Provide excellent customer service

Customer service is the cornerstone of any restaurant business. Customers won’t want to come back to your restaurant if they’ve had to wait for ages to be served or if the waiter was rude to them.

Starting with the way you greet people walking into the restaurant to how willing you are to accommodate their special requests (such as a specific table or an extra dish ingredient), it all counts toward the end result.

Train your staff in vital customer service skills that will help them learn how to approach a variety of customer types and ensure they leave the restaurant feeling happy with the entire experience.

Ask for feedback and learn from it

Finally, guests appreciate businesses that can take feedback and constructive criticism and use it to better themselves. Not only does it make them feel heard, but it also increases the chances of them recommending your restaurant online and offline.

Online reviews are very important for restaurants because they can help you grow your reputation, gain new customers, and boost profits.

Thus, encourage people to leave you a review online when they seem like they enjoyed their meal. Similarly, if a customer seems dissatisfied, inquire what the issue is, try to find a way to solve it on the spot, and make reparations so that you don’t lose their patronage in the future.

That’s a Wrap

Learning how to increase customer loyalty in your restaurant can make the difference between a long-lasting business and one that falls apart in the first year. Return customers will always be vital for your restaurant, so nurturing that relationship should be one of your top priorities.

photo of GloriaFood blog writer Laura-Andreea Voicu
Laura-Andreea Voicu

Laura-Andreea Voicu is an experienced content writer with a knack for marketing and SEO. She creates guides and resources designed to help restaurants grow their presence online and boost sales.

She has been featured on the Oracle Food and Beverage Blog and wrote for Search Engine Journal, Clutch, Sender, Venngage, Quickbooks, and many more.

Find me on LinkedIn.