Blogue > Customer Experience > 9 Customer Retention Strategies for Restaurants

9 Customer Retention Strategies for Restaurants

37 minutes

Coordonnatrice Marketing | Rédactrice et graphiste. La création, c'est ma passion !

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Today, establishing good customer retention strategies in the restaurant industry is a real challenge. To put this in context, imagine the following scenario. Your restaurant has everything to please your guests. You offer a varied menu, excellent meals, and an atmosphere following the latest trends. Yet, few guests come to eat at your establishment. You notice over the months that the volume of Google reviews in your restaurant is very low and that hardly anyone seems to be bragging about the merits of your establishment. How can you improve the customer retention strategies of your restaurant to gain a better reputation and retain your customers?

Offer a quality experience by improving your customer relationship in a restaurant. After all, your guests don’t just come to your establishment to eat. They want to live a unique experience, while feeling listened to and appreciated in your restaurant. You must therefore establish a relationship of trust and an unforgettable experience to improve your acquisition and customer retention in restaurants!

Download now: -> 13 online review response templates for your restaurant

How to satisfy your restaurant customers? To shed some light on the subject, here are five crucial issues in the restaurant customer relationship, as well as nine tips for overcoming them.

Customer loyalty: definition

Customer loyalty is defined as the strategy put in place by a company to establish a lasting relationship of trust between it and a customer. This loyalty results in better customer retention, which will be much more alert to new products, services, and promotions shared by the company. In addition, loyal customers will ensure a regular income for your organization, since they will come back regularly to make purchases with you. This is a great way to ensure the success of your business!

For example, customer loyalty in restaurants will allow you to ensure the return of many customers, in addition to benefiting from a good brand image. Your loyal and satisfied customers are your best promoters: they will leave you positive Google reviews and encourage their loved ones to visit your establishment. This positive word of mouth will improve your reputation as well as your acquisition of new customers. Remember: a quality customer relationship improved by excellent customer retention strategies is the best way to retain your customers in restaurants!


Typical challenges experienced by restaurant owners in terms of customer retention

Acquiring new customers is often what restaurant owners put their energy into. However, customer loyalty is at the heart of the success of your restaurant: it is thanks to your regular customers that you will ensure an interesting turnover,  positive word of mouth and a good brand image. 

What are some of the challenges before you can build customer loyalty? To enlighten you, here are the five main issues that can be overcome by good customer retention strategies in your restaurant.

1. The recruitment and retention of employees in this labor shortage

During this time of labor shortage, it is increasingly difficult to recruit and retain your talents in restaurants. However, the retention of your employees has a crucial impact on the quality of the experience offered by your institution.

If your restaurant doesn’t have enough employees, your department will be severely affected. The workload will be too heavy for your employees: they will be stressed by all the tasks attributed and will perform much less at work. A lack of employees will result in a poor customer experience, anxious teams at work and a lack of commitment on the part of your staff. Moreover, according to Bonusly’s study, such an experiment could result in a 59% resignation rate in your restaurant!

To avoid this scenario, make sure you have excellent recruitment strategies in place to build and retain talent within your institution. Optimize your onboarding and onboarding processes for new employees to increase retention and monitor job satisfaction throughout their training. Keep this in mind when improving your customer retention strategies for your restaurant!

2. Distinguishing yourself from your competitors

Imagine: you decide to go to a restaurant with a few friends to celebrate a special occasion. When you arrive, you are quickly supported: a server welcomes you and assigns you a table. If the service is not bad, you are not particularly charmed by the restaurant.

The atmosphere is not bad, but rather dull. The decoration is practically non-existent and there is no music playing while you wait for the food. In addition, the menu, although varied, is in no way different from the dozens of restaurant chains you already know. Although you order and enjoy your meal, you tell yourself that there are many similar and much more interesting restaurants. For this reason, there is very little chance that you will come back or recommend this establishment.

Has that ever happened to you? Just as an indication, there are over 100,000 restaurant chains in the United States. Imagine how difficult it must be to differentiate yourself from global competition! Yet, this is one of the most crucial issues in terms of acquisition, retention and customer relations in restaurants.

An establishment without distinctive features to stand out has very little chance of surviving in a field as competitive as that of catering.

One of many good customer retention strategies to follow for your restaurant is to understand what your clients are looking for. Work on your brand image, signature dishes and ambiance to offer your guests a unique experience. This way, you can’t be replaced by a competitor: your customers will talk about you to their entourage and will definitely come back to your establishment. Remember this issue to build excellent customer retention strategies for your restaurant!


3. Delivering a memorable customer experience

As previously discussed, your restaurant must offer unique elements to differentiate itself from the competition and retain your customers. In addition, it also translates into a memorable experience that will not leave your customers indifferent.

To give your customers the experience they deserve, be sure to generate positive emotions throughout your customer’s journey at your location. A welcoming and attentive waiter, a clean and spacious table, an unique atmosphere, fast service, tasty dishes, a quick and easy departure: there are many opportunities to offer a memorable customer experience in a restaurant. Such a service will have a significant impact on the satisfaction of your restaurant guests: they will have an excellent relationship with your establishment and will want to come back for future meals. This is one of many great customer retention strategies to keep in mind for your restaurant!

4. Ensure high quality standards for all your employees

In addition to providing an exceptional employee experience, you also need your teams to provide excellent service. To ensure the retention of your customers and their good relationship with your restaurant teams, ensure that your staff members follow high quality standards.

When training your waiters, make sure they are always attentive to your customers’ needs. Encourage them to express themselves in a calm, courteous and professional manner, especially in case of customer dissatisfaction. Your servers must be proactive in taking table orders and ensuring the satisfaction of every guest in your restaurant. Why not invite them to read the names and favorite dishes of your most regular customers for a more personalized service? Such customer relationship management is an excellent customer retention strategy for your restaurant!

In the kitchen, ensure good communication between your co-workers. Your cooks must be efficient and performant while being able to work under pressure. They must follow the sanitary instructions and ensure the quality of the food used to cook delicious dishes for your customers. Thus, your customers will be satisfied with the quality of your dishes and will certainly come back to your restaurant to ask for more!

Ensure that each employee follows the required standards to provide your customers with an exceptional experience. A professional service, accompanied by delicious meals, will make them revisit you and perhaps even recommend you to their entourage!

5. Have a good marketing strategy for your restaurant

In a field as competitive as catering, it is important to ensure the good visibility of your establishment. However, in order not to be overshadowed by the largest restaurant chains, you must determine the best marketing strategies to adopt.

Study your target audiences with personas to create great marketing campaigns and solidify your brand image. Depending on the target clientele, you will be able to customize your messages and designs to better meet the needs of your consumers.

Are you a local restaurant? Create geo-targeted ads to reach the citizens of your region on the web.  In addition, use billboards, banners, radio ads and publications in your local newspapers to build a local community around your restaurant. This will soon attract many customers to your institution. This is a great marketing and customer retention strategy to build a trusting relationship with your restaurant’s clientele!

Social networks are also a must for your institution. Many culinary enthusiasts will visit websites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google My Business or TripAdvisor before deciding on the best restaurant that will suit their needs. To maximize your visibility, be sure to regularly feed your social networks. Quality photographs of your specialties and dining rooms decorated to the taste of the day, online menu, special promotions, images of a smiling and warm team, an ergonomic and efficient website on mobile devices: There are many ways to get people’s attention.

With a solution like InputKit, you can even simplify your online reputation management with our automated processes and our online review improvement solution. This is a must to adopt better customer retention strategies to ensure your restaurant’s success!

How to improve your restaurant’s customer retention strategies?

9 ideas for improving the customer retention strategies in your restaurant

Customer loyalty is a long and complex process that is built throughout a customer relationship, from first contact to post-sales follow-up. In this sense, it is imperative to adopt good customer retention strategies to improve the customer relationship in restaurants and offer an experience that meets your clients’ expectations. However, how can you satisfy your customers in restaurants to show your visitors how much they mean to you?

To help you, here are nine helpful tips to improve your restaurant’s customer retention strategies.

1. Offer a unique experience from start to finish

  • Sight: A decor following the latest trends, appropriate colors according to the chosen theme, a good arrangement of the tables, dishes with very careful presentation, a dim lighting.
  • Taste: A culinary experience, even gastronomic, that matches the promise of sale and even exceeds expectations.
  • Hearing: Ambient music, good insulation from outside noises, employees maintaining a courteous and appropriate tone at all times.
  • Smell: Dishes with pleasant smells, a clean dining room and isolated from the smells of the kitchen.
  • Touch: Soft napkins, dishes with a pleasant texture, dishes with an appropriate temperature.

A friendly atmosphere, tasty dishes, appropriate music: multiple factors contribute to create a unique and memorable experience. Create an experience based on the five senses to create a WOW effect in your customers that will certainly drive them back to your restaurant!

2. Recognize the loyalty of your regular customers with planned tactics

Personalizing the experience is one of the key drivers of customer loyalty. In order to retain your regular customers, set up small attentions in your restaurant.

Encourage your servers to call your regular customers by their name and to know their favorite dishes to give your service a more human touch. You could even offer your most loyal customers a free supplement or drink, a promotion for their next visit, or an invitation to a private tasting. These excellent customer retention strategies will encourage your loyal customers to return to their favorite restaurant.

Furthermore, why not set up a loyalty program via a card or a mobile app? Depending on the points earned, your customers could get discounts on their next meal. This is an ideal opportunity to reward your loyal customers, but also to generate additional income. This customer retention strategy will let your regular clients know that they are appreciated by your restaurant!

3. Respond to all your online reviews

In order to improve your restaurant’s customer retention strategies, you must first show your consumers that they are at the center of your priorities. To do this, you need to consider their comments and suggestions to make informed decisions.

How can a restaurant owner know what their customers think? Invite your customers to leave online reviews for honest and informative feedback!

Using a QR Code in the dining room or following a satisfaction survey, invite your guests to leave online reviews. These customer reviews are a gold mine of information for your restaurant: they will allow you to improve your experience continuously based on the real needs of your customers. This is a must for the success of your restaurant.

In addition, take the opportunity to respond to all your online reviews. By thanking your customers for their time and proactively rectifying customer dissatisfactions, you show your prospects that the satisfaction as well as the well-being of your customer is your priority This strategy will allow you to attract new prospects within your restaurant while increasing your visibility on search engines. This customer retention strategy will build a trusting relationship with your restaurant’s clientele while increasing your acquisition rate of new customers.

4. Provide concrete feedback to your employees so they can continuously improve

In order for your employees to offer the best service possible, they must first know the various areas of service that need to be improved. In order to achieve this, what better way than to regularly ask your clients what they think about the experience you offer them?

With software like InputKit, send automated and personalized satisfaction surveys to your customers at the right time to get their true opinion of your restaurant. Afterwards, share these feedback with your staff to make them more accountable for the quality of the service provided. This way, your teams will benefit from feedback and suggestions based on concrete needs to continuously improve the customer experience. This is a considerable asset to keep in mind while adopting new customer retention strategies for your restaurant. Your customers will see the changes and know their opinions are important to you!

5. Create an engaging employee experience for a happier team at work

According to the study conducted by Bonuslyloyal employees are on average 21% more productive at work. In this sense, how can you ensure the happiness of your teams in order to offer a high quality service to your clients?

Send satisfaction surveys to your employees on a regular basis to measure their motivation at work and then put in place strategies to improve your employee experience. Offer competitive working conditions and a good organizational culture to ensure the well-being of your teams. Here are some examples:

  • A flexible schedule;
  • An adequate salary;
  • A high number of vacation days for your employees to rest;
  • A culture of trust and recognition;
  • Respectful work colleagues;
  • Proactive managers;
  • Discounts on meals offered in your restaurant;
  • A break room appropriate to the needs of your employees;
  • A recognition table highlighting the successes of the month;
  • Social media posts featuring your good employees;
  • And more!

To improve the customer retention strategies of your restaurants, care for the quality of your employee experience. After all, in restaurants, consumers are very receptive to the mood of your teams: a waiter with an unpleasant mood or an argument that breaks out in the kitchen can completely dissuade your customers from coming back to your restaurant. To that end, be sure to provide your employees with the best possible experience. This customer retention strategy will have a beneficial effect on your relationships with the clients of your restaurants!

6. Set the record straight with your detractors to better understand the situation

When customer dissatisfaction occurs, there is nothing worse than ignoring it. According to experience expert Lucy Knight95% of dissatisfied customers share their bad experience with your prospects, and 48% of them will talk about their dissatisfaction with at least ten people around them. Imagine the financial losses this could cause.

In the same vein, this lack of customer retention strategies will prevent you from improving your restaurant’s customer experience continuously. By refusing to take note of negative reviews or derogatory comments from your customers, you will never be able to know or correct the flaws in your customer experience. As a result, negative feedback will accumulate: without change offered, your customers will feel neglected and betrayed, which will lead them to turn to one of your competitors. Over time, this practice could even lead to the closure of your restaurant.

To avoid such a scenario, take the time to properly manage customer dissatisfactions in restaurants.

Within your institution:

  1. Adopt a positive attitude and have a warm smile;
  2. Be professional and calm throughout your interaction;
  3. Invite the customer to speak out against the source of their dissatisfaction;
  4. Validate the customer’s emotions;
  5. Apologize to the customer for the inconvenience;
  6. Propose a relevant solution to the problem presented;
  7. Follow your customer satisfaction to validate if dissatisfaction has been resolved.



  1. Keep a calm and professional tone when responding;
  2. Invite the dissatisfied customer to another platform to avoid attracting attention;
  3. Invite the customer to speak about the source of their dissatisfaction;
  4. Apologize for the unpleasant experience;
  5. Propose a relevant solution to compensate the customer;
  6. Follow-up with the customer to ensure the solution is suitable for their actual needs;
  7. If the dissatisfaction has been rectified, politely invite the customer to change their negative opinion to a positive one.


Remember these customer retention strategies to build a relationship of trust and mutual respect with your restaurant’s clientele. A proactive resolution of customer dissatisfaction will soon turn your worst detractors into your best promoters!


7. Create a community of restaurant enthusiasts

An excellent customer retention strategy is to build a community of fans of your restaurant. To achieve this, you must first conduct an analysis of what customers appreciate about your establishment. Once these elements have been determined, be sure to create an online space where your fans can exchange and be informed.

As examples, why not set up a newsletter to share exclusive offers with your loyal customers? Promotions, tastings, coupons, loyalty cards and VIP events: these small intentions will show your customers that they are always at the center of your priorities. Following these events, you may even invite your clients to take photos and identify yourself on social networks. These customer retention strategies will allow you to improve your restaurant’s online visibility while benefiting from an excellent brand image. This is a must for building a community and a good relationship of trust with your restaurant customers!

Also, why not create a Facebook VIP group with your best ambassadors? In this group, you will be able to interact directly with your community to improve. To this end, ask your customers regularly to create new dishes that meet their expectations. You could even create an iconic dish to attract new customers to your restaurant!

8. Send customer satisfaction questionnaires with InputKit

To improve your customer retention strategies in your restaurant, you must first understand what your customers want. This will allow you to make informed decisions based on real needs.

How can a restaurant owner know what their customers think? Send out satisfaction surveys to your restaurant’s customers to get their opinion on the quality of your services! With a solution like InputKit, schedule the automated delivery of satisfaction surveys to your customers at the right time, one to two hours after a restaurant experience. The results of these surveys will help you identify areas for improvement in your customer experience, as well as how to better satisfy your restaurant’s customers. This way, you can make informed decisions based on your consumers’ concrete expectations to offer them a service that meets their expectations. These proactive enhancements will show your customers how important their opinions are to you and will significantly increase their loyalty to your institution!

9. Follow the latest trends in catering

Of course, your customers don’t just come to a restaurant to enjoy a good meal: they visit your restaurant to live a unique experience and enjoy an atmosphere in the colors of your brand. To offer your customers what they are looking for, why not follow the latest trends in catering?

Carefully study the atmosphere and menus of competing restaurants to make sure you stand out from the competition. Don’t hesitate to get informed through training and conferences to discover the latest trends in your industry. Follow the latest culinary trends to prepare an original menu that reflects your brand. These restaurant customer retention strategies will contribute to the loyalty of your customers while distinguishing you from your competitors. This is a great way to improve your customer relationships in restaurants!

How InputKit can improve customer retention strategies within your restaurant


Do you have difficulty measuring your customers’ satisfaction within your restaurant? Do you want accurate information to improve your restaurant’s customer retention strategies? If so, InputKit’s customer experience assessment and improvement solution is for you!

After your clients move into your facility, InputKit allows you to send automated and personalized satisfaction surveys. Follow best practices: schedule these surveys at the right time, one to two hours after the experience, to get hot feedback. Our average response rate of 49% per email and 57% per text message (SMS) ensures you get a lot of feedback to improve your customer experience continuously. This is a great way to know how to improve your restaurant’s customer retention strategies!

In addition, our online review improvement software allows you to exclusively target your promoters to acquire a high volume of positive Google reviews. For each completed survey, you can invite your satisfied customers to leave you a positive review online, which will improve your reputation and optimize your positioning in the search engines. This is a considerable asset to display the notoriety of your restaurant on the web!

Did you know that our online notification solution also has a smart response generator? With our generator, respond to each of your online reviews in an automated and personalized way. This tool will allow you to learn more about your customer satisfaction while quickly rectifying customer dissatisfaction. These customer retention strategies will definitely improve your clientele’s satisfaction within your restaurant!

While it can be complex to adopt good customer retention strategies in your restaurant, follow our best practices to improve your client acquisition and loyalty.

Before you implement loyalty strategies, make sure you have the staff needed to provide your customers with an experience that meets their expectations. Make sure you set yourself apart from your competitors by creating a memorable customer experience, then train your employees to follow high standards when working in your restaurant. Finally, implement good marketing strategies to ensure your establishment’s visibility.

To improve your restaurant’s customer retention strategies, give your customers a unique experience based on the five senses to create a WOW effect. Recognize your most loyal customers with small, specific intentions, including creating and maintaining a community of fans of your restaurant. Be sure to regularly send customers satisfaction surveys, to manage your detractors as well as to respond to all your online reviews to improve your customer experience continuously. Finally, give your employees an exceptional experience and suggestions based on concrete feedback to increase their satisfaction and motivation at work. These customer retention strategies will ensure your restaurant’s success!

Do you need advice on how to create an unforgettable customer experience at your restaurant? If this is your case, don’t hesitate to schedule a free and customized demo of our solution with our experts. We will be happy to help you set up an experience that meets your expectations!


13 online review response templates for your restaurant (positive and negative)

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