HURDLE NUMBER TWO: CUSTOMER LOYALTY
Last week was the first entry of a six part blog where we began to discuss six hurdles hospitality managers commonly face. This week we will be delving into hurdle number two, customer loyalty.
Not only is hiring the right staff important, but those who you choose to employ play an integral part in customer loyalty. I’m sure all of us have had at least one memorable experience where a waiter/waitress has given us outstanding service and/or we have been delighted with the food and beverage put in front of us.
Today, a tremendous amount has to be offered to patrons in order to gain their loyalty. We live in a world where people always want something for free, and this is the case for most industries, not just hospitality. Whether you actually offer something for free, or you advertise a buy one get one free special, nothing beats this old line, “Well the bar down the road serves the same for a lot cheaper!” In such a highly competitive industry, hospitality managers constantly need to come up with new and innovative ways to delight customers in order to ensure they come back and keep spending money. Without loyalty, and without our money, the industry would cease to exist.
It’s the loyalty that is the key issue here. It’s all well and good to get in a big crowd on a Friday night, but what are you doing to make them come back? You can’t guarantee that the same exact crowd will be back next Friday. What is it that you are doing that really hooks them in? It could be a number of elements: the music, the mood, the quality of your food, how your staff strike up their opening conversation, the décor of the venue, or it could be a combination of these things.
The creativity it requires whilst trying to maintain optimal cost prices is a constant battle for managers. A point of difference must be found in order to give you the advantage over your competitors, and is essential in building and sustaining customer loyalty.
Solution: It’s a common saying “treat your oldest customers like royalty”. Now it’s not the elderly I’m referring to here. I’m talking about those who have been coming to your establishment since the very beginning. It is this group that contributes to a significant proportion of your turnover. Customers also appreciate it when you take the time to talk to them. Better yet, the value of how you make that customer feel at the time, has a much higher return than any other tactic. Too often I see staff that would prefer to converse about the latest gossip rather than take an interest in their customers. If you can get employees to take an interest in the people they are serving, you may just hit the jackpot.
Check back later this week where we discuss Hurdle Number Three – The Role of Team Motivator.