It is important to recognize that the restaurants that have managed to overcome adversity as a result of the circumstances derived from the pandemic, owe it, in large measure, to the loyal customers who have remained active, enjoying the services that they offer. These diners, consciously or unconsciously, consider that their favorite restaurants depend on them and greatly appreciate when they are taken into account and recognized as an important part of the establishment’s success.

We want to share with you five strategies, which you can easily incorporate, to enhance your relationship with the most loyal customers.

1. Create a loyalty program. It seems obvious, but most restaurants do not have a strategy or a system that allows you to know who the most frequent customers are, what their preferences are and how often they come to the business. For a restaurant, the loyalty plan should not only be a way to reward its customer, but also a plan to collect data that allows analyzing consumer preferences and activating plans that improve the overall experience.

Neuroscience behind loyalty programs should be based on the following: reward and strengthening. Our mind tends to repeat a behavior, which is followed by a reward or recognition, which activates the emotional reward system. So, when we reward our customer for desired actions, a desire to continue engaging in these actions can be generated.

Free welcome drink

2. Free welcome drink or dessert. This is a classic with a lot of power. Once the customer is part of the loyalty plan, they can always be received with a product to recognize the importance they have for the establishment. It is important to let them know this after offering the free item.

Avoid waiting time for a table

3. Avoid waiting time for a table. Offering your customers advance bookings on high-traffic days like Valentine’s Day, special Thursday or Friday nights is an ideal way to give them the VIP treatment.

4. Preferred seating. Depending on the day, it is a good idea to keep a few tables reserved for our members, located in attractive places, which are known as the sweet spots. This is a very powerful way to make them feel special when they arrive.

Secret menus

5. Secret menus. Being part of a community usually brings the benefits of having access to things that others do not have. In the case of a restaurant, offering a secret menu, only for those who are enrolled in the loyalty program and have already obtained a number of loyalty points, is a very powerful way to make them feel privileged in front of others. This loyalty program gets a lot of attention due to its exclusivity and high word of mouth.

So far, we’ve shared five very practical ideas for creating a loyal community around your business. There are many other techniques that we will share at another time; however, we would like to share with you an additional strategy that we know has very positive results: Together for a cause. As part of the program, allow members to engage in a non-profit association each month, so on their next visit a part of what they consume will be destined for a donation in their name.

We co-created this content with @neurogastronomo to help your business grow.