How to Turn your Restaurant Guests into Raving Fans

Turn Restaurant Guests into Repeat Customers

How to Turn your Restaurant Guests into Raving Fans

One of the main goals when running a restaurant is to turn your first-time restaurant guests into raving (and loyal) fans. Raving fans are much more than repeat customers; they are those who come back to your establishment time and time again. They voluntarily spread the word about your restaurant wich results in more traffic and more revenue for you.

Basically, raving fans will bring you repeat service along with free (and authentic) promotion. A raving fan will shout your name from the rooftops whenever someone asks them for a recommendation, they will provide you with great testimonials, and they will make your restaurant an overall amazing place to be.

So, how do you get these raving (and loyal) fans?

Follow the 6 steps we have outlined below to start increasing your guest retention rate today!

1) Create a Memorable Experience for your Restaurant Guests

From the moment your guest walks through your front door, to the moment that they leave through that same door, you want to provide them with a memorable guest experience. There is an old saying that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. That is especially true when it comes to the restaurant industry.

Your restaurant guests want to be delighted. They want to be treated like high-class customers. They want to feel appreciated and welcomed. You should always be striving to make them feel this way if you want them to not only be repeat guests, but raving fans.

For larger restaurants, you never really know who is walking through that door. Whether they be a first-time guest or a repeat guest, you should always make sure to delight them at every touch point.

How do you make sure that you are giving your restaurant guests a memorable experience? Follow these best practices:

Simulate a first guest experience: 

Walk through the front door as if you are seeing your restaurant for the first time. Go through the entire guest experience making sure that every touch point provides an outstanding experience.

This includes the entryway, the waiting area, the dining room area, the bar, the bathroom, and all staff. These are all touch points that should be focused on and evaluated for providing an outstanding and memorable experience.

When your guest is waiting for a seat, what do they hear? What do they see? Is it calm or hectic?

When your guest is seated, are they left wondering what the next steps are, or are they greeted right away?

Continue analyzing each touch point and tweak what is not up to “raving fan” standards.

Ask for feedback:

Ask your guests for honest feedback about their experience.

Do this by offering incentives for those who fill out a feedback form. A feedback form can be kept by the front door or even included on (or with) the receipt.

Have your team ask your guests before they leave how their experience was. Keep a log of this.

Make sure that your team is on board:

Having a memorable guest experience is a team effort. Make sure that your entire team knows how important it is to create these memorable guest experiences.

Maintain consistency with customer service goals via team meetings, newsletters, and team trainings that focus on customer service and interaction.

Offer bonuses or incentives to employees who get mentioned by their guests in a favorable way, or those who you know are creating great guest expreriences. 


Turn Restaurant Guests into Repeat Customers

2) Go from Corporate to Human Whenever Possible

Even if you are a small mom and pop restaurant, it’s important to “humanize” your restaurant. People connect with and relate to other people, so try to incorporate this as much as possible.

Make sure that your guests know that there are people behind those kitchen walls, as well as stories to be told.

Follow these best practices to help your restaurant guests relate to you on a personal level:

If Family plays a big part in your restaurant history, add pictures of your family to the walls with stories on how your restaurant came to be.

If you were ever featured in the newspaper or a magazine, add those to the wall as well.

Ditch the auto-responder emails and reply personally to all customer service related inquiries.

Turn your Restaurant Guests into Raving Fans


3) Build Personal Relationships with your Restaurant Guests

Building relationships with your restaurant guests are extremely important for turning those first-time guests into repeat customers, and then again into raving fans.

Along with the tips from the above step (Go from Corporate to Human Whenever Possible), make it a point to learn your customers’ names, introduce them to the chef, and try your best to make them feel like they are the only guests in your restaurant.

Turn your Restaurant Guests into Repeat Customers

4) Become Customer Service Superstars

If there is a problem, get into the habit of fixing it right away. Never be afraid to go above and beyond the scope of fixing a problem to delight your customer.

Let’s say something was missing in a take-out order. Instead of just refunding your guests’ money, instead, you can refund their money and send them a personalized gift card in the mail for a free dessert during their next visit. 

This not only shows your guest that you care about them and value their service, but it also gets them back in the door so that you can delight them once again.

If customer service isn’t your team’s strong suit, hire someone to come in and teach your team about proper restaurant customer service. This will be an investment on your part, but it is sure to have a positive ROI when your guests become repeat customers and raving fans.

 Turn your restaurant guests into repeat customers

5) Create a Loyalty Program

Create some type of loyalty program that rewards repeat customers. 

No matter what kind of loyalty incentive that you decide to offer, whether it be that the guests get something for free or that they receive a discount, make sure that it is meaningful and valuable to the guest. If the guest is impartial to the type of reward you are offering, then they won’t be as likely to utilize it.

The most common types of rewards are discounts, coupons, and freebies. If you sell merchandise, you can of course give this away too.

Lastly, make sure that it is easy for your guest to get points and redeem their gifts.

Luckily, we live in the age of technology where apps are all the rage. Check out these 20 Loyalty Reward Apps for Small Businesses and start creating your loyalty program today!

Turn your Restaurant Guests into Repeat Customers


6) Go the Extra Mile with your Food

Going the extra mile with how you prepare and plate your food can really leave a lasting impression on first-time guests. A clean and visually appealing plate will leave a much better impression on your guest than a messy and cluttered plate.

Go the extra mile by switching up how you plate your most common dishes or invest in some beautiful and durable dinnerware. Check out our latest dinnerware HERE.

Little changes such as these can really go a long way when it comes to food presentation.

If a customer is unhappy with their food, make it a priority to accommodate that customer and have them leave your establishment with a smile on their face, no matter what.

Turn your Restaurant Guests into Raving Fans

7) Build your Email List and send out Newsletters

Last on our list of ways to turn your guests into raving (and loyal fans) is to build an email list and send out newsletters. An email list is a great way to stay on the forefront of your guests’ minds. Send them the latest news and menu items, offer discounts and coupons, and even conduct guest research.

The intention behind your email list is to not only stay on the forefront of your guests’ minds but to also provide massive value and incentives.

Create a monthly or bi-monthly newsletter to go out to your list containing the latest in your restaurant’s news including any new team members, menu items, or promotions going on. Don’t be afraid to include a customer spotlight section to build those relationships!

Turn your Restaurant Guests into Repeat Customers

Now you are well on your way to turning your guests into raving (and loyal) fans!