Oct 14, 2023 5 min read

Mastering the Illusion: 4 Secrets to Winning Customer Loyalty

Restaurants are letting customers slip through the cracks.
Mastering the Illusion: 4 Secrets to Winning Customer Loyalty

Attention, Attention, Attention. When you really start to analyze it, we come to the realization that virtually every action we undertake is besieged by elements vying for our focus. Even if it means just a second of our time. Think about it: You wake up to the blaring alert of your phone, only to find the latest news interspersed with relentless advertisements, all clamoring to sell you something. As you walk to the subway, you are surrounded by countless billboards, each one dedicated to enticing you with the promise of the next must-have product. Attention has consistently been, and will remain, the driver of profit.

If you're still not convinced, I'll ask you this. What phone do you own? I'd venture a guess – Apple, isn't it? Now, consider the apps you engage with most frequently on that device. Instagram, perhaps? Or maybe it's X or Facebook? Every swipe and interaction is meticulously designed to captivate you, keeping you engaged just a bit longer. Sometimes, I find myself contemplating whether the choices we make are truly our own or if they are influenced by something we passively encountered, a seed planted in our minds, ultimately leading to a purchase weeks down the line. It's almost akin to magic, more specifically the movie 'Now You See Me,' a cinematic journey following an FBI agent and a detective as they chase a team of illusionists executing bank heists during their captivating performances. While nobody's robbing a bank here, the point is that they trick the audience members by planting hints in their daily lives leading up to the shows so that they guess the exact number or think of the exact word they were hoping for.

Marketers can't be magicians though, right? Or can we? The world may never know.

I digress, but my point revolves around the universal truth that every company, regardless of its nature, requires attention to thrive. This notion becomes all the more paramount in the bustling realm of the hospitality industry. I currently reside in the heart of New York City, home to a myriad of dining establishments and the level of competition here is nothing short of fierce.

I've had the privilege of experiencing some of the finest culinary offerings this city has to offer, as well as venturing into the hidden gems that remain concealed from the masses. Despite the extraordinary quality of their cuisine and their prime locations, many remarkable restaurants often grapple with the challenge of low foot traffic.

Luckily there are tactics to build your foot traffic and most importantly keep customers coming back for more.. aka.. RETENTION!


Before delving into the topic of customer retention, it's essential to underscore a few critical elements that restaurants must have in place. Firstly, a well-crafted marketing strategy is imperative for attracting attention. This attention should then be harnessed to build a robust customer database, and convincing patrons to share their information, whether in-store or through online and social media platforms, is a pivotal aspect of this process.

To optimize your data acquisition efforts, consider focusing on six key elements:

  1. In-Store Data Collection: Train your staff to adeptly gather customer information when they visit your physical location.
  2. QR Code Engagement: Utilize QR codes to prompt customers to share their information while they dine in your restaurant.
  3. Mobile-Friendly Website: Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly to provide a seamless experience for customers who visit your site on their phones.
  4. Website Data Collection: Implement methods to collect customer data directly through your website, such as sign-up forms and customer profiles.
  5. Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Invest in a CRM tool to store all your customer information to then later leverage in your marketing initiatives (see below)
  6. Engage on Social Media: Maintain an active and engaging presence on social media platforms to connect with your audience and keep them informed and excited about your restaurant.

Retaining their Attention

Now that we've covered how to acquire data, let's cover how we increase retention.

According to Statista, restaurant's customer retention rate sits at about 30%, which also means that more or less 70% of customers don't come back to the same restaurant after visiting it once.

At the same time, it’s common knowledge that repeat business is what makes restaurants profitable. Below are a few stats to prove it:

  • Repeat customers tend to spend 67% more in 31 to 36 months as a client than in months 0 to 6.
  • 61% of small businesses report that over half of their revenue is due to repeat customers.
  • By increasing your customer retention by 5%, you can boost your profitability by 75%.
  • It costs 5 times more to acquire new customers than to keep old ones.

4 Secrets to Winning Customers Loyalty

  1. Outstanding Customer Service: While the significance of excellent customer service may seem self-evident, its pivotal role cannot be overstated. Regardless of the exceptional quality of your food, a subpar dining experience can swiftly tarnish a restaurant's reputation. Customers come to your restaurant to disconnect from their day to day and there's nothing worse than spending money on something only for your expectations to be let down. Customer service/ experience can include: price compared to portion size, creating a personal touch by building a relationship with a waiter or host and of course the quality of the food.
  2. Marketing & Automation: Implement marketing automation tools that trigger personalized actions, such as sending birthday greetings, Instagram retargeted ads, Google retargeted ads, emails, and text messages, when a customer signs up. There are so many holidays throughout the year where you can engage with your customers beyond just sending out delicious food pics. Mother's Day, Valentines Day, National French Fry Day, all of these "holiday's" should be capitalized on through your robust marketing platform that's fully automated and can do the heavy lifting for you!

Marketing Tools to Check Out: Targetable

  1. Loyalty Programs: We all love a good deal and there's no better way to reel a customer back in than enticing them with a great offer. By offering rewards, discounts, or special perks to repeat customers, you encourage them to keep coming back to your restaurant. This regular customer base provides a stable source of revenue, especially during slower periods.

Loyalty Tools to Check Out: Spendgo, Luckydiem

  1. Feedback: Did you know that only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers brings up complaints? In other words, guests would highly likely stop purchasing from you without a word. Asking for your customers’ feedback makes them feel valued. Acting promptly upon the complaint shows that you value your customers’ feedback. A review, whether it's positive or negative, should always be responded to.

Feedback Tools to Check Out : Ovation, Yumpingo

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