Skill Focus: Creating Regulars

Last week I discussed how to create and build rapport with your guests.  This week I am taking it a step further.  The reason you want to establish rapport with a guest is to earn an exceptional tip and make them want to return to the restaurant.  The only thing that would be better than that for a server is to have them return to their section in the restaurant.  This week I will focus on taking that rapport to the next step and creating regulars.

Original Post: Creating Regulars

This is not only good for servers, but also good for the restaurant.  Not every server’s style matches up well with every guest’s expectation.  When you find a pairing that does match, it is best to encourage it.  The finest restaurants have understood this for years and openly encouraged servers to maintain their own base of regulars.  This should not be limited to this style of restaurant.  Your guests feel comfort in knowing that when they go to a certain restaurant they will have a server there who they are confident will take good care of them.  This is something that you should encourage to maintain the happiness of both parties.

Here are three teaching points to emphasize on this topic:

Everyone wants to be a regular: Guests crave recognition.  We have so many choices of places to spend our money today that we demand to be appreciated.  Turning guests into regulars is the key to showing that appreciation.  Knowing about them and welcoming them back into your section will increase the frequency of their visits.

This is the ultimate sign that you like them: Last week I really drove home the point that guests appreciate a server that likes them.  There is no better way to show this appreciation than to ask them to come back.  Not only does it show that you enjoyed having them as a guest, but that you want them to come back in and do it again.

Gives them permission to ask:  Many guests simply feel uncomfortable asking to be sat in a certain server’s section.  They feel that it might be rude to the other servers and that they may be presumptuous in assuming that you want them back.  Often times asking them to do this is all the permission they need to become a regular in their section.

How to teach this topic:

Monday-Wednesday: Explain the concept to your staff.  Show that you are building on the previous week’s lesson by differentiating building rapport and creating regulars.  You staff should have seen results from last week’s lesson.  This week you teach them how to multiply those results by actually creating regulars.

Thursday-Friday: Have you staff provide you with examples of verbiage they would use at the end of the meal to invite a guest to ask for them.  Have them start building regulars.  Hand out three copies of your business card to each server.  Tell them you want them to write their names on the back of the card and give one to each table they are trying to turn into their new regular.

Saturday-Sunday: Ask your staff to tell you about their new regulars.  Who are they?  What did they talk about?  This will cause excitement amongst the rest of your staff.  As everyone sees the results some people are having they will get on board.  This synergy will cause the concept to really take hold and create a staff excited to expand their group of regulars.

Regular guests are at the core of a successful restaurants marketing plan. Creating regulars for your restaurant is good, but creating an additional loyalty to a particular server is even better. This duplicity of connection to your restaurant is an added layer of loyalty. This will increase your servers’ incomes and your restaurant’s sales. Regular guests are the key to regular profits.

Tips²: Tips For Improving Your Tips, the new book from the author of The Manager’s Office, teaches the skills of exceptional servers that will increase customer satisfaction and dramatically improve restaurant sales.  This book is more than a server training manual.  It is the secret to teaching your staff to enjoy selling and give your guests the experience that will create raving fans.  To learn more about the book, visit www.tips2book.com.  Use the coupon code “MANAGER” to save 20% at the checkout.

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About David Hayden

David Hayden is a restaurant marketing and training consultant based in Kansas City, MO. He writes a series of 9 blogs collectively known as The Hospitality Formula Network and is the author of "Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips" and "Building Your Brand With Facebook"

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