Your 2019 New Year’s Resolution: Improve Guest Experience to Increase Repeat Visits

It’s a new year, filled with new hopes and dreams, and a time we make resolutions for ourselves to improve both personally and professionally.

What about New Year’s resolutions for our restaurants? How would we like our restaurants to improve in the next year?

Chew on this: A study found that 60% of guests said a positive experience will cause them to dine at the restaurant more frequently.

Also, researchers found that if you can bring back 5 percent of your customer base in a variety of industries, it could result in a surge in revenue of 25 percent to 125 percent[1]. Imagine your bottom line if more than 5 percent of your guests became repeat visitors?!

So for 2019, here are 4 focus areas to ensure a positive guest experience with your restaurant:

1. Technology

Technology is an essential aspect of a restaurant’s success in today’s digital world as it increases visibility to every aspect of our establishments. Before a guest walks through the door, they can form their opinion based on your restaurant’s website and social media channels. It is important to coordinate your website and social media channels to represent your brand with the same look and tone on signage, menus, and other materials. Messaging should be clear and easy to understand, frequently informing new and returning guests of offers and specials. A study found that 85 percent of responding customers use a restaurant’s official website to gather information on location, menu, and pricing, and use that information to visit.

In addition, the same study showed 40 percent of customers prefer to order online and when they do, their spending increases by 26 percent in quick-service restaurants and 13 percent in casual and fast casual establishments. Online ordering, in addition to online reservations and mobile payments at the table, make restaurant interactions easier and encourage additional sales. Also, researchers found that in a quick service restaurant, the average spend per visit increases approximately 20% when technology is used to place the order.

2. Younger Generations

While there has been much discussion over the years about the young adult, Millennial population, the influence of the Gen Z population (13 to 22 years old) is growing in number and influence. The National Restaurant Association studied this generation to provide restaurants with ways to use technology to drive their experience. With significant access to smartphones and all things digital, they found that this group relies on mobile devices to access information and make reservations. They use social media for engagement, crowdsourcing, and online reviews to guide their decision process. This cohort also expects convenience, using technology to easily order take-out and process meal payments.

3. Friendly Staff and Welcoming Environment

An important aspect of a guest’s experience is when they enter and dine in your restaurant. In addition to offering tasty food options, it is crucial that they walk into a tidy restaurant and be promptly greeted by a smiling staff member. Proper staff training on being friendly, welcoming, and knowledgeable, in addition to maintaining a clean environment, will help provide a positive experience.

4. Reputation

Guests base their dining decisions on information that they gather from reviews, ratings, and feedback on Yelp and other sites, as well as from conversations with family and friends. A Harvard Business School study found that a one-star increase in a Yelp rating leads to a 5 to 9 percent increase in revenue in independent restaurants. Clear brand materials and communications, easy-to-use technology, a new focus on younger generations, and a welcoming environment will contribute to your strong reputation.

We wish you the very best in providing your guest with the most positive experience this year.  Good luck!

[1] Gallo, Amy. “The Value of Keeping the Right Customers,” Harvard Business Review. October 29, 2014.