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Cultivating Repeat Business: Your Restaurant Marketing Dollar Well Spent

Posted by Kate Maier on 5/19/15 7:14 PM
Today’s focus is the ever elusive marketing dollar - how to spend it, where to spend it, and most importantly, how to measure its worth.


When it comes to making money, there are a finite number of ways to do so. In the restaurant business, you can attract new customersincrease check averages through party size and “upsells,” or increase customer frequency.

Not surprisingly, the gut instinct is to pursue new business - diversifying your customer base is by all means a necessity, particularly for new restaurants who might not have too many customers to begin with. The real surprise comes in when we consider how the typical restaurant spends that marketing dollar - in most cases, regardless of the business’ age or level of stability, they continue to spend upward of 90 percent of marketing budgets on new customer acquisition, all but ignoring the other opportunities to drive revenue. Per acquisition, the cost of attracting new customers is considerably higher than building on existing business - to the tune of 7-10 times more. (LINK)

Now let’s take a look at those existing customers. They’ve been here before, and probably will be back again. Why bother making them targets in your next marketing campaign?

he fact is, when it comes to increasing overall sales, these existing customers are your best bet. Instead of using your marketing tactics to change the behavior of potential clients you don’t know, why not consider modifying the behavior of the customers already in your corner?

How can you get a couple who visits your establishment for dinner once in a month to come in twice as often? the answer is by connecting with them: by offering incentives, keeping yourself and your brand “top of mind,”  and establishing a strategic loyalty program.

For Dinerware customers, setting up a loyalty program is easy - you can assign points to specific food items or dollar amounts spent, choose and set unique rewards, and manage everything through your integrated customer database. At Cervion, we’ve taken things a step further by adding a marketing component that ties a professional email marketing system to that Dinerware database, so that repeat customers will be tempted to visit for birthdays and anniversaries when they receive automated messages from your business.

Consider the birthday notification scenario. The typical impulse is to offer a free dessert or small, token discount to get someone in the door for their birthday, which could work out just fine for both parties involved.

But what if you gave away a three course birthday meal - provided the guest of honor scheduled their birthday party at your restaurant? Not only are you providing a goodwill gesture… but you’re drumming up a significant chunk of business in the meantime.

When it comes to increasing sales revenue at your restaurant, remember:

  1. Build on Existing Business. Targeting repeat customers with loyalty and internal marketing is less expensive than pursuing new customers, and tends to yield a greater return.
  2. Modify Existing Behavior. Get the customers who already know and love you to change their behavior by dining more frequently and spending more while they’re there. Consider the variety of incentives you can offer to get them in the door - and don't be afraid to be creative!
  3. Spend More to Make (a lot) More! Keep thinking of “outside the box” gift incentives and other promotional ideas that can be integrated with your Dinerware customer loyalty and Cervion Email Marketing systems. 
Kate Maier

Kate Maier

Working out of Cervion's New York office, Kate Maier offers a consultative approach to cloud POS sales with more than 15 years of restaurant industry experience.


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