Christmas and New Year’s are headed to your restaurant. Think Christmas Eve dinners, Christmas lunches, New Year’s parties, cakes, and gifting. This means a surge in incoming orders for your food business.
It also means that customers you get at this time are buying from you without any meaningful connection to your brand (as is the case with seasonal buying). And are likely to never re-engage with you again. Out of sight, out of mind.
That looks like a lost opportunity to us.
Instead, here are ways to take all those bulk orders and shepherd them into profitability. With effective customer retention strategies, you could start resonating with these (otherwise lost) customers and develop longer relationships.
Why is customer retention important?
- Lower cost to acquire customers (CAC) over time
- Higher average basket size
- More repeat orders
- More engagement with your brand
- More likelihood of word of mouth
- Decreased commissions over time
Strategies for delivery restaurants and cloud kitchens
Grow your contact list
Your potential customers are likely to eat out or order in more than usual around Christmas. Multiple times in the period between 17th and 2nd Jan. You could treat this segment as “festive customers” and separate out their contact details. This way you can target them with personalized messaging.
Use inserts in your packaging
Every delivery order is an opportunity to differentiate your brand from your competitors. Inserts in your packaging are a great way to delight your customers and build relationships. Especially since inserts can feel like a good surprise if used well. They are a cost-effective way (since you have already paid for the delivery) of sending highly targeted and personalized messaging to your customer. You can use them to cross-sell other products, send personalized thank you notes, encourage repeat ordering with loyalty points or even send a delightful freebie that helps cement your brand with your customer. We highly recommend this tactic to promote your brand stickiness.
Here are some #packaginglove inserts we have seen around.
Get repeat orders with offers via SMS
Send your customers a thank you message after their first order. Couple that with an irresistible offer. Offers are hard to beat since they are direct and give your customers an immediate gain. Anything that saves your customer’s cash, is hard to pass over.
Remember, the more your customers buy from within a short period, the more likely they are to develop a relationship with your brand. That way offers are great at engaging your customer, even beyond their transactional nature. And SMSs are a great tool to help you deliver that message.
Hook them to your loyalty program
Loyalty programs are known to be an effective way to increase repeat sales. Because active customers are easier to engage. And getting your customers to sign up early is key. Introducing your one-time seasonal buyers to your loyalty program as they make their first few purchases is a great alternative to discounts (and escaping the discount brand tag).
You could run a tiered loyalty program (which is super easy to set-up on our platform):
- Reward customers more, the more they purchase.
- The increasing reward size encourages more buying.
- Once customers start using your loyalty program, they don’t switch easily.
Keep them engaged with remarketing and social media
Customers are much more likely to respond to messages from brands they have already interacted with. Piggyback on seasonal buying by following your customers around with remarketing. You can also use your recently acquired contact list to run targeted ads on social media. This way, you turn a one-time interaction into a series of engagements. This would be a cost-effective way of getting your brand in front of potential repeat buyers.
Strategies for Dine-in restaurants
Increase footfall with lunch and dinner feasts
Design a Christmas or new year themed buffet at your space to bring in your seasonal customers. Typically an all you can eat, set food menu and drinks. Encourage larger groups with variable pricing. Also, large groups increase the chances of more word-of-mouth. But remember to be extra diligent with your service. Use your customer databases, social media and search engine ads to get the word out.
Nurture with email
Saying thank you in full colour, with great imagery and messaging is sure to turn some heads. And sharing your brand’s story from the first contact is great for leaving your customer with a pleasant feeling. Imagine a customer coming to your restaurant for Christmas Eve or lunch and having a great time. You know this because they said that in their feedback. They liked your food and service. Now would be the time to send them a beautiful email to occupy a little bit more of their mindshare. Or you could send them an email exactly a week after saying you miss them. Email are powerful when personal and image-rich. Remember to add in a subject line that gets clicks.
Here is an example to get you inspired.
A welcome email that introduces your brand to your customer in all its glory is a better alternative to hitting them with offers right away (you run the risk of being too pushy).
As a next step you could create a nurturing email flow around the following areas:
- Secret menus – To promote curiosity amongst select customers. The ultimate reward for customer loyalty.
- The making of – Showing off the care you take to curate every detail of your guest’s experience.
- Customer stories – Seeing themselves being featured as part of your story, makes your customers feel special. Being featured promotes a feeling of community that money just can’t buy.
- Causes you associate with – Your customers care when you care. You also increase the chances of them coming back to you when they know that the money they spend at your restaurant helps someone in need.
- Your overall brand story – Across your food, service, suppliers, and people. Help your customers see what goes into making the great experience they just had and how you’re pushing the boundaries so that they can have a good time.
Onboard to your loyalty program via SMS
This is a good time to onboard your seasonal customers into your loyalty program. Find a mega list of dine-in loyalty ideas here.
Shoutouts on social media
You could keep your dine-in customers engaged with a shoutout in your latest Instagram story. Engaging select customers individually, with a personal message and addressing them with their first name is a great idea. This customer is sure to think of you again the next time she plans a night around town.
Promote word of mouth
The reigning champion of any marketing activity for your restaurant, this tactic is sure to create lasting impressions with your one-time seasonal customers. Easier said than done, word of mouth is usually the hardest to generate. The classics are really good food, great prices, an excellent customer service, and consistency. A hack could be, riding a global food trend that is hot right now. Or having quirky names of menu items.
Don’t ignore your regulars during the rush
Your regular customers are vital to your restaurant business and have the highest customer lifetime value. These customers have already given you their vote of approval. Remember to send them a personalized message or a tailor-made offer during the Christmas-New Year week. If there’s anyone that deserves a discount, its your loyal customers.
Here’s an example of what this could look like.
The bottom line, is the bottom line
We hope you get a lot of attention this Christmas and New Year’s. And we hope you see the potential in treating every order as an opportunity to create lasting engagements with your restaurant. As your customer acquisition costs plummet, you are on your way to make your restaurant more profitable.