If you’re in the restaurant trade then you undoubtedly have a core of loyal customers:

The couple who have eaten with you every Saturday night for years; the family who mark every special occasion with a meal in your restaurant, or the group of friends who use your premises as their regular meeting place.

These people are the bedrock of your business. So, you need to do all you possibly can to look after them and make sure they keep eating with you for many years to come.

If you use an online booking app then you will already have the email addresses of these special customers, which gives you the ability to stay in touch and cultivate this very important relationship.

Here’s our four top tips on how to make your most loyal customers feel extra special: 

Be personal

You know these people – you know their names, their eating habits and their routines. So, you should use this information in your messages to make it clear that you value the relationship they have with you. For example, if a couple who regularly eat in your restaurant always spend a lot on wine, invite them to come and try some new wines you’re offering. Or, if you have customers who always have cheese for dessert, invite them to a cheese-tasting event. 

This type of message shows you take an interest in your customers and are aware of what they like.   

Plan a special meal 

Send out an email inviting all your loyal customers to a lunch or dinner that’s just for them. Make it special in some way – either by offering a healthy discount or by giving them a first try of something new, such as your latest seasonal menu.

Remember special occasions

As you get to know your most loyal customers, you also get to know the special days in their lives – birthdays, anniversaries etc. So, send out an email to wish them well on these days and offer them something – like a free bottle of wine – the next time they visit.

Ask for recommendations

Your loyal customers are loyal because they love your restaurant, your food and your service. That means they are highly likely to recommend you to others, so why not say thank you to them for doing this. Send out an email that rewards them for their loyalty, by saying you will give them something – a free bottle of wine or a discounted meal, for example – in reward for anyone who eats with you as a result of their recommendation.

We hope these tips have helped you. And – if you’d like to find out how an online boking app can help you build a relationship with your best customers – you can try Tablein for nothing. Just fill in the short and simple form below to start your 14 day free, no-obligation trial.

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Good reviews can be the lifeblood of your business. Customers saying nice things about your restaurant on your website, or sites like TripAdvisor, encourage others to come and try your food.

Equally, bad reviews are not good for business as they inevitably put people off. Obviously, you wouldn’t put a bad review up on your own website but you have little control over external review sites.

But, with a bit of thought, you can make sure you maximise your good reviews and lessen the damage caused by bad ones.

Here’s our guide to handling customer feedback:

Engage with bad reviews  

It’s not nice to hear bad things about your restaurant, but, when it happens, you should engage with it, rather than ignoring the comments. You should acknowledge and apologise for any problems, but also feel free to politely defend yourself if you feel the criticism is unfair.

Handling bad reviews from good customers  

When one of your loyal customers – the lifeblood of your business – gives a bad review, you must act quickly and decisively. Don’t quibble about it – they eat with you regularly, so their concerns are going to be genuine. Instead, say how sorry you are that they haven’t enjoyed their experience this time. If there is a specific problem, such as long waiting times between courses, explain what you will do to rectify the problem. Also, consider offering something – such as free bottle of wine – the next time they visit you. Any cost to you will be more than repaid by keeping a loyal customer who could have been lost to you forever.

How to spot fake reviews

Sadly, some people – such as unscrupulous rivals or disgruntled ex-employees – may post fake reviews on site such as TripAdvisor. This can be bad news for your business, but don’t forget it is fraudulent and illegal to do this and you must report any review you think is fake to the site owner, and ask them to take it down.

When trying to spot fake reviews, you should look out for things such as lots of bad reviews being posted on the same day, reviews that criticise your establishment and recommend a rival establishment as better, or reviews that criticise you for things that are simply not true. These could all point to fraudulent content.

Get as many good reviews as you can  

It’s a simple equation – the more good reviews you have, the more people will want to visit your restaurant. And when people book a table through your online booking system, you have that most precious resource – their email address. So, the day after they’ve dined with you, send an email asking for feedback on your restaurant. Whatever they say – good or bad – it’s useful information for you and you could use it as a testimonial on your website. And if they really love your restaurant, then send another email that politely asks them to share their opinions on TripAdvisor.

You can try boosting your good reviews by using our booking app. We offer a 14 day free trial and there is no cost or obligation. Just fill in the simple form below to give us a try.

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