11 Customer Retention Strategies that actually work for Restaurants

by Ayushi Jain

customer retention strategies for restaurants

Read this blog to know more!

Are your customers not coming back to your restaurant even after you offer them everything? Are your varied menu, delicious meals, and chic ambience still making customers switch to competitors? If yes, it’s pretty clear that your restaurant doesn’t have a good retention rate.

Is it something important to look into? Yes! Today, retaining loyal customers is one of the biggest challenges restaurants face. Acquiring new customers is easy; however, retaining them is challenging. In the fiercely competitive world of the food industry, the success of restaurants or any food outlet depends on your customer retention rate.

Remember, your guests don’t visit your outlet to eat. They come here to enjoy a surreal dining experience. And you can do it by leveraging the 11 best customer retention strategies for restaurants.

So, let's dive in!

What is Customer Retention?

Customer retention is the potential of businesses to retain their loyal or new customers for a longer time. A higher retention rate makes way for repeat purchases and improved customer experience.

Although you understand the meaning of customer retention, you may still wonder why it is critical to retain customers. Does it benefit restaurants in the long run? Can it improve revenue flow? The answer is yes. Customer retention benefits restaurants in many ways, and here are some of them.

The Benefits of Customer Retention for Restaurants

Before diving into customer retention strategies for restaurants, let's understand why customer retention is vital.

1. Sustainable Revenue Flow: Repeat customers can make up a significant portion of your restaurant's revenue. They often spend more per visit and are more likely to recommend your establishment to friends and family.

2. Lower Marketing Costs: Acquiring new customers can be expensive. Focusing on retaining existing customers reduces your marketing expenses, allowing you to allocate resources more efficiently.

3. Enhanced Reputation: A base of loyal customers can act as brand ambassadors, sharing positive reviews and experiences with others. This word-of-mouth marketing can be a powerful tool to attract new patrons.

But these benefits are meaningless without the right strategies. So it's time to explore 11 unique and tailored customer retention strategies for restaurants.

ALSO READ: How to Increase Repeat Business for your Restaurant

11 Customer Retention Ideas That Can Be Game Changers for Your Restaurant

1. Personalised Loyalty Programs

Create a personalised customer loyalty program that rewards customers based on their preferences and past dining experiences. For example, offer a free dessert on their favourite occasion, or a discount on their preferred dishes. Tailoring rewards to individual tastes makes customers feel valued and appreciated.

2. Apologise when your restaurant makes mistakes

Mistakes are bound to happen, no matter how hard you try to avoid them. They can happen in any business, irrespective of your industry.

It could be a billing error, a tasteless meal, a delay in bringing food order, and more. These mistakes are risky and can make you lose your customers. But you can avoid it by apologising to them. For customers, a dining experience isn’t just a good meal or an ambience, but also restaurant owners/staff apologising or handling a situation with care when they make a mistake.

If you provide a tasteless meal, you can offer them rewards like 50% Off on their next visit. Repeated visits improve your brand reputation, increase customer engagement, and enhance your retention rate.

3. Focus on Staff Training

A lot of restaurants are providing delicious meals to their customers. But do their owners and staff have a good knowledge of what they are offering? No!

Be an expert in your industry and educate your staff because customers will come to you for advice or suggestions. For instance, if they aren’t aware of your restaurant’s best dishes, they will ask you to suggest the best one.

If you fail to give a proper suggestion or explain the ingredients, they may lose interest in your restaurant; however, helping them with these problems will position you as an expert and build the trust of your customers.

4. Give Birthday Bonuses

Customer retention strategies like birthday bonuses improve your retention rate and enhance customer satisfaction. In this case, it’s not just the bonus or rewards that will surprise customers but also your efforts that satisfy them. Remembering their birthdays is a great way to show appreciation and increase their value.

5. Exclusive Table Experiences

You can offer an exclusive chef's table experience where customers can interact with the chef and enjoy a custom-tailored menu. This intimate dining experience can create lasting memories and a sense of exclusivity that encourages repeat visits.

6. Virtual Foodie Tours

Incorporate technology by offering virtual foodie tours. You can partner with a local influencer or food critic to host an online tour of your restaurant. He can showcase the ambience, menu highlights, and behind-the-scenes moments. This unique experience can attract food enthusiasts and build customer engagement.

Moreover, collaborating with food influencers will expose your restaurant to new customers and build trust. Because audiences often trust their recommendations. Thus, they are most likely to visit your restaurant.

7. Seasonal Taste Testings

Introduce seasonal taste tests where customers can try experimental dishes for free or at a reduced cost. Allow them to provide feedback and vote on their favourites. You can add the winning dish to the menu. This will increase customer engagement and make them feel involved in shaping your restaurant's offerings.

Adding on, you can use their positive feedback to show off the good side of your restaurant. Post the positive feedback on your social media handles to show the proof of your credibility and build your customer trust.

If a customer leaves negative feedback, use it as an opportunity to make improvements to your poorly prepared dishes. It shows that you are taking customer feedback seriously and implementing their suggestions. This will encourage them to repeatedly visit your restaurant, try new dishes, and engage more.

8. Take Collaborative Community Initiatives

Engage with the local community by collaborating with nearby businesses or hosting joint events. For instance, partner with a local bakery to offer a unique dessert or host a food festival featuring multiple local eateries. These collaborations can expand your customer base while fostering a sense of community. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

9. Provide Customisations to Customers

Track your customers’ likes and dislikes, their past orders, and other preferences to provide a personalised experience to them.

You can provide a customised menu, a customised food item, or a personalised complementary item. This will make your customers feel unique and special, and hence let them feel that you care for them. In this way, your customers will be forced to pay you a repeat visit.

10. Add Gamification

You can add gamification and give different customer experiences. For example, you can create a secret menu with hidden, off-menu items known only to your loyal customers. Encourage patrons to discover these secret dishes by solving clues or challenges. The sense of mystery and adventure can make dining at your restaurant a thrilling experience.

11. Leverage Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software

CRM software is the best way to improve customer retention and the fastest way to grow your restaurant. It is a data-driven software, designed to track, monitor, and manage customer information.

You can use this information to understand their behaviour and preferences, implement marketing campaigns, send them birthday rewards/wishes through SMS, WhatsApp, or email, and make informed decisions when planning your restaurant menu.

CRM software is a valuable tool to nurture customer relationships effectively and improve customer retention. However, investing in CRM tools that provide all the necessary solutions and help you implement these best customer retention strategies for restaurants is critical. It eliminates the need to switch apps or tabs for different reasons.

How Can Reelo Help Your Restaurant With Customer Retention?

Reelo is an all-in-one CRM platform. It helps you deliver customer experiences that drive them to come back to your restaurant and become a regular.

The software lets you easily leverage these customer retention strategies for restaurants you need to attract your customers and retain them: a personalised customer loyalty program to turn one-timers into loyal customers, automating your marketing campaigns by leveraging channels like WhatsApp, SMS, and email, giving detailed insights into customer behaviour, boosting your online reviews and ratings through Google reviews, and more.

Whether you want to promote new dishes, understand your customers, or build better relationships with them, Reelo is the one-stop solution for your restaurant.


Customer retention is not a one-size-fits-all concept, and for restaurants, it involves crafting unique and memorable experiences that keep patrons coming back. The above strategies are tailored to the restaurant industry, aiming to create a strong bond between your establishment and its customers.

Remember this! While acquiring new customers is essential, nurturing and retaining your existing ones can be the key to long-term success in the competitive restaurant business. By implementing these creative customer retention strategies for restaurants, you can transform your restaurant into a destination that diners can't resist returning to again and again.

If you want to achieve this transformation and constantly improve customer retention, sign up on Reelo today.

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