Joe Lennon explains why your staff are the key component to achieving repeat customers.
Loyal, repeat customers are the most treasured asset any business can possess. Unfortunately many operators spend a great deal of their money and time trying constantly to attract new customers. In doing this they forget a key point, loyal customers don't need promotions, incentives or attractions.
The real challenge for independents, customer loyalty
The question they should be asking perhaps is, how to earn customer loyalty, which takes time and effort. Consider the following as the true hallmarks of a successful hospitality operation:
A personal welcome
None of the above come easily, but through hard work, dedication, regular training, and attention to detail, a business can develop these attributes. Developing the experience encourages customers to return and is likely to be worth far more than an expensive marketing promotion or sales gimmick.
The need for training staff
Key to all of this is management investing in their employees by training them. Alas, it's where many businesses fall down, often through lack of time rather than vision or effort. Training takes time and planning, both components that are at a premium in a busy establishment. Owners, chefs, and restaurant managers are all short on time as their jobs are very busy.
Training staff, especially junior employees, can be very difficult with the amount of planning required. Plus it costs money. That said, if you don't have staff who are well versed in their jobs, who have the dexterity to deal with customers in a charming and informed fashion while performing their work productively for fair reward, then the business will not be able to generate loyalty in customers.
Failure to focus on this, as recent restaurant closures and problems on the high street have demonstrated, results in staff that do not care about the success of the business, or about contributing to growing revenues and profits. It's one of the 10 errors found in most restaurant bankruptcies.
Additional focus - site hygiene
Clearly money on training is well worth it.
Interestingly there's another area that encourages loyalty, hygiene. Most surveys conducted of customer needs and wants in the hospitality trade reveal the desire for cleanliness. This includes perfectly clean guest rooms and bathrooms, polished tableware and glassware and, dust free carpets or fragrant toilets.
When reviewing your own operations, it's worth remembering that the customer sees everything. A manager may be too close to the workplace to notice the finer details. Any operator that thinks otherwise could be misinformed.
Again, this is linked to staff training. Equipping employees with the necessary knowledge to ensure the establishment is maintained in a perfect state of cleanliness is vital. It's also often unrecognised but needs to be seen as a key part of generating customer loyalty.
The content of this post is up to date and relevant as at 07/02/2019.
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