How Can You Keep Customers Coming Back?

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As restaurants across the country experience the slight uptick in business that comes with Daylight Savings time, it’s worth considering what will keep customers coming back to a particular establishment. According to ongoing industry research by market-research firm Mintel:

  • Cleanliness is paramount to 96% of restaurant goers
  • Menu selection and variety are most important to 94% of folks,
  • Comfortable seating is the most important component of a visit-worthy atmosphere for 91% of those surveyed.

Because the vast majority of consumers find cleanliness, menu selections and comfortable seating most important, it is vital that restaurants address these areas first, before looking at the needs of specific demographics,” says Julia Gallo-Torres, foodservice manager at Mintel. “Once these areas meet the standards of general consumers, operators can consider the specific demographics that make up their core customer base, as well as the groups in which they would like to target.”

While cleanliness, menu selections and comfortable seating are most important to all age groups, after those are covered, different demographics start wanting different things:

  • Some 93% of those aged 65+ say noise level is important to them when dining out versus 82% of all respondents.
  • More than half (52%) of those aged 18-24 think the kind of music played in the dining room is important versus only 40% of all respondents.
  • But, more than two-thirds (68%) say the food itself is more important than the atmosphere of the restaurant.

With increased technology, restaurants are better equipped to offer customized experiences for consumers. Décor and music can be easily altered through projection screens, accent lighting, satellite radio and streaming apps.

Aside from the ambiance of a restaurant, patrons also want:

  • To not feel rushed when dining at a sit-down restaurant (92%)
  • Coupons or special pricing (71%)

People are most likely to be deterred from returning to a restaurant if:

  • The table or setting is unclean (76%)
  • The server is impolite (74%)
  • The bathroom is dirty (57%)

According to Julia Gallo-Torres, “These reasons only speak to three quarters of Mintel’s respondents, showing that some restaurant patrons tend to return to an establishment despite a less than desirable experience. However ... competition is tough and these issues must be addressed by restaurants in order to ensure that the consumers they do attract will want to return.”

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