Innovation

Attracting and retaining customers more important than ever as foodservice emerges from lockdown

Key points

  • Pizza’s popularity as a takeaway and home delivery meal has enabled pizza businesses to weather the lockdown months better than many
  • If you’ve built up your takeaway and home delivery trade during the lockdown period, it’s important to retain that going forward
  • Equally important is to re-engage with customers as they begin returning to your business and rebuild your repeat business
  • Our five helpful hints will assist you in ensuring you’re doing all the right things to consolidate customer loyalty in the months ahead

 

MANY FOODSERVICE BUSINESSES have been casualties of the COVID-19 lockdown, but the pizza market has fared better than most. Pizza’s widespread popularity as a takeaway and home delivery choice has allowed many establishments to keep operating, albeit at reduced capacity. And even those businesses which didn’t previously offer takeaway and home delivery have been able to pivot their focus to this sales channel as an aid to staying afloat in these troubling times.

Now that we’re once again able to open our doors to customers for eat-in dining, attracting and retaining customers is going to become more important than ever. Obviously if you’re one of those establishments which has been able to build up its takeaway and home delivery trade, you’re going to want to retain that profit channel moving forward.

It’s also important to remember that customers will have been missing their favourite dine-in venues and are looking forward to coming back. This presents a great opportunity to celebrate your reopening with them and to go the extra mile in service, presentation and food quality – all of which is important in building the customer retention you need to generate that all-important repeat business as you start rebuilding.

Here are five helpful hints to assist you in ensuring you’re doing all the right things to consolidate customer loyalty and ensure retention in the months ahead:

1.  Keep an eye on costs, but don’t cut back on quality. Business is likely to start ramping up from a slow start – some customers will be wary about venturing out, and others will have less money to spend on meals than pre-lockdown. You’ll therefore need to be careful with your supply stocks, especially as it may at first be difficult to estimate how much you need to meet expected customer demand. But while keeping an eye on costs is important, don’t make the mistake of compromising on quality – especially when it comes to meal ingredients. Your customers will be looking for value for money and a memorable dining experience and if you want to keep them coming back, you need to deliver the goods.

2. Consolidate the gains you’ve made in home delivery and takeaway. Over the lockdown period more consumers have embraced home delivery and takeaway and this appears set to continue. So take the time to examine how this channel is working for you and what you may need to do to build it further. Look into online order platforms, third party delivery providers and how efficient your business is in terms of delivery – Club Perfect has a wealth of useful information you can consult in this regard.

3. Build customer retention through loyalty programs and promotions. More than ever, repeat business is going to be essential in keeping your business operational. Look at ways of rewarding customers for their loyalty such as meal deals, discount vouchers, a free meal for their birthday and other promotional incentives. Given the current need to minimise hand to hand contact, you can take advantage of latest technology by providing customers with digital swipe cards which they can wave across your terminal to access loyalty offers. QR codes, currently a popular choice to register your diners to facilitate contact tracing in the event of a COVID-19 infection, can also be scanned from paper menus and used for this purpose.

4. Welcome customers back to your business with special offers or a new signature pizza. This will create a talking point on the menu, build camaraderie between staff and customers, and provide a way of saying thanks for their continued patronage. If you need to resize your menu due to reduced customer numbers and social distancing restrictions, you can create a ‘best of the best’ selection – making sure to include your most popular items.

5. Personal, friendly service will be more important than ever. As the smart chefs and restaurateurs know, foodservice is as much about the service as it is about the food. One of the best ways to encourage repeat business and customer retention is to ensure all staff go out of their way to make customers feel genuinely welcomed, appreciated and attended to. A friendly smile, personal attention and thoughtfulness can make all the difference – so encourage staff to treat customers the way they would like to be treated themselves when they’re dining out, and take every opportunity to make their visit to your business one they’ll look back on as a good memory.