As a restaurant owner, you will know how competitive it is in F&B industry. Every month, you hear news about many new restaurants opening and at the same time, many existing restaurants are closing down.
Many restaurants are actually competing for the same group of customers so in order to maintain long-term sustainability for your restaurant, it is important to develop your own inhouse customer database. Always remember to ask for your first-time customers’ contact information such as email for future communication.
This will not only help you to build your own customer database (also known as mailing list) but it’s also a good way to interact with your customers frequently to maintain your visibility in their minds.
You can now lure them back frequently to your restaurant with some good deals or promotion than waiting passively for them to come back.
Using Email Marketing Tool
One of the excellent tools used to build customer database is email marketing tool. Many people have the misconception that email marketing tool is only used to blast out email messages or special promotion only but in fact, it has a lot more features.
For example, it includes the following:
- Email sign-up form
- Email marketing tracking
- Subscribers segmenting
- Detailed subscribers profile
- Ready-made email template
Most email service providers provide email marketing tool with the above features. One of them is Constant Contact, it is popular among many restaurants as its email marketing tool is easy to use and affordable.
You can build a successful customer database like others by following the below methods.
Steps to Build up Your Restaurant Customer Database
- Add a Sign-up Form at Your Website
You can add a sign-up form (or capturing form) at your website to capture your website visitors’ names and emails before they leave. The sign-up form can be placed in different location at your website. It can be either at your right-hand sidebar, a pop-up sign-up form or slide-up form at the bottom of the page. In addition, you can have a page just solely dedicate for signing up of new customers and it is commonly called a landing page. To encourage your customers to sign up, you need to offer some baits for example, a good birthday discount, membership program, new menu promotion and special occasion offer.
- Add a Capture Form at Your Facebook
Similarly, if you are active in social media platform like Facebook, you can utilize the opportunity to capture email of your Facebook fans and followers by adding a sign-up form tab in your Facebook. Once they become your mailing list subscribers, you can then encourage them to forward your email to their family, friends or colleagues so that you can capture more new subscribers to your mailing list.
- Use Autoresponder to Automate Your Email Message
One of the best parts of using email marketing tool is its autoresponder. It is used to automate the process of constantly sending a series of email messages to new subscribers without human intervention. The series of email messages can be set to be sent on a few days, weeks or months apart.
A good example of such email messages is an invitation to your new subscribers to try out a 1-for-1 promotion to encourage them to bring their partners, family or friends to try on your featured menu every week.
Use Offline Methods to Complement Online Email Capturing Efforts
If you are new in creating a customer database, you may like to use offline methods to complement your online email capturing efforts so you can achieve your goal faster.
- Use QR Code
Add a QR code to your promotional banner and place it at your main entrance. The QR code must direct the customers to your website and show them the sign-up form. To motivate customers to scan their phones on the QR code, you can offer some instant freebies like drink or appetizer to sign up your mailing list.
- Use Sign-Up Card
Alternatively, you can distribute a physical sign-up card to your customers while waiting for their foods. Let the customers know they will be joining your mailing list and they will be informed of the latest restaurant’s promotion, discount and special offer via email. The size of the card can be A6 size which should give plenty of room for writing. If the customer has a name card, this would save you the hassle of keying the data so ask for it first before giving them the sign-up card.
- Publish your Sign-up Form Address in your Marketing Collaterals
If your restaurant is doing catering and meal takeout delivery, it is good to publish your sign-up form address in your name card and brochures. These brochures could be distributed to your customer’s guests so if any one who like your food, they could sign up directly via your website or Facebook to receive latest information about your catering.
It may take some time to build up a decent size of customer database but the effort will be worthwhile once you have successfully built one.
You can then frequently communicate, interact and get feedback from your customers. Find out what they like and dislike about your food, service, staff and restaurant to make improvement.
You will soon realize that having your own customer database will help you to save in advertising and PR costs. Most importantly, your customers from your own database will be more responsive and loyal than those you get from random advertising.
If you are interested to sign up for an email marketing tool, click here to try it free for 60 days.