How to get a customer to come back to your restaurant

Customer Lifetime Value is the projected amount of revenue a customer will generate over their lifetime at your business. According to FiveStars, a loyalty automation platform for small and medium businesses, the formula for estimating lifetime value is:

Your average spend per month divided by the monthly customer churn rate (percentage of this month's customers who don't come back).

For example, if average spend for the month is $10, and the percentage of customers that month who do not return is 20 percent, then the CLV is $50.


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According to Chris Luo, VP of Marketing at Five Stars, you obviously want the CLV to be as high as possible. To do this, you could spend more per month (which affects the lifetime value minimally) or you could get more customers to come back and reduce the monthly churn rate, which yields better results.

A recently published infographic from FiveStars shows that, while this solution may sound simple, even the biggest chains struggle to get many of their customers to return. For example, the percentage of customers who don't come back within the next six months after a visit at the following brands include:

  • IHOP, 58 percent;
  • On the Border Mexican Grill, 58 percent;
  • California Pizza Kitchen, 61 percent;
  • Chili's, 56 percent;
  • Buffalo Wild Wings, 53 percent.

New customers churn at very high rates. At restaurants, this rate is about 60 percent.

However, once a customer comes back a second time, churn rates fall significantly. The percentage of second-time customers returning in the next four months after a second visit is about 75 percent at restaurants. A FiveStars' data study shows that the most successful small businesses get more than 60 to 70 percent of their customers coming back on a monthly basis.

5 ways to get more customers to come back

Luo offers five ways to get more customers to come back, and increase your restaurant's CLV.

  1. Treat new customers like VIPs: Use discounts, giveaways or thank them for trying your brand.
  2. Keep in touch with customers: Use timely emails, text messages and social media posts.
  3. Give customers a reason to come back soon: Use enticing deals that have an expiration date.
  4. Implement a modern rewards program: For example, an opt-in texting campaign.
  5. Treat repeat customers like kings: Use VIP lines, customer photo walls and other "over-the-top" experiences they'll tell their friends about.

Read more about customer experience.

Photo provided by Wikipedia.

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User Comments – Give us your opinion!
  • Joe Sengupta
    16548961
    Nice article. Don't forget to mention about menuboards. It is found that beautiful menuboards helps in 23% of customer retention. There are some magnificent App available which can help in creating beautiful menuboards. Try it out and see the difference!! - Joe(www.dsmenu.com)
  • Prologic First
    9621962
    Awesome pointers put together to get more customers to come back, along with this maintaining a frequent diners database will help the restaurateur to service and treat the guest like a VIP, with the diners data (likes, dislikes, spicy, allergic to, most ordered items etc.) already available at the restaurant it helps the attendant to greet the guest better and suggest him as per the past data. Considering this Prologic First have been facilitating restaurants across the globe with it's POS software, Touche - http://www.prologicfirst.com/hotelsoftware/pos-software.html. Also check out the cloud version of POS, http://www.mycloudhospitality.com/?q=mycloud-pos.
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