5 tips for building your restaurant customer database

Today in this article we’re going to look at 5 tips for building your customer database for your restaurant. This aspect of running your restaurant is very important. How do you build your database? As we mentioned in a previous article, today the value of your restaurant is no longer based on the value of its goodwill, but rather on its customer database.

This same customer database will enable you to better develop your services, as well as greater economic stability. There are different ways of developing a database. Today we’re going to look at 5 aspects that will help you build your customer database over time. So let’s take a look at how to build and define this database.

Your website :

The first aspect concerns your website. Your website is your restaurant’s showcase. It is often the first contact for many of your future customers who are not yet your customers. It’s the front door to your restaurant, and often the first information they’ll read about your restaurant. Don’t forget that 80% of people visit a restaurant’s website to get a better idea of it.

Your website contains important information for developing your sales. You’re going to set up tools that will enable you to increase your database. By turning the majority of visitors to your website into loyal customers.

A striking example of the kind of information that can be found on your website is, of course, your menu description.

  • What’s on your menu?
  • What are the main features of this menu?
  • Do you have a particular philosophy?
  • Is it a specific culinary theme?
  • Is it possible that this is a specific cooking method?

Your menu is a sales generator

It’s important that people can get an accurate idea of the type of menus you have. Another essential point about your menu is that it should be easy to read. The purpose of reading is to stimulate your sales and future customers. Time and again, we see websites with menus that are illegible and difficult to read. In this case, it’s very difficult to retain the person and increase your sales. You need to think about how you’re going to promote your menu. How will you stimulate your future and potential customers? It’s not necessary to include a full description of your menu. This would only make the reading more cumbersome. You can choose according to the season and highlight dishes that will give people a better idea of your work. The aim is to stimulate the gastronomic desire of the person who will decide to come and eat at your place.

Gift certificate :

The other aspect you can emphasize is the services you offer. We’ll talk about this a little later in the article. Another useful tool is the gift certificate. The latter is often little used or misused. It’s not a question of displaying it and doing nothing. There are many ways to use a gift certificate. It’s a great way for restaurateurs to increase their sales. You’ll be able to start earning money early on, and gain new customers in the process.

Very often, it’s your loyal customers who will ask for a gift certificate to give to their loved ones. The same people who may never have had the chance to come and eat at your place. They will spend more than the amount of the gift certificate. You’re a double winner. Today, we have the technological tools to enable people to buy their gift certificates directly online. Don’t hesitate to use them. Many people look for gifts for all kinds of occasions all year round.

The other interesting aspect of your website would be to promote a range of your derivative products. These could include recipes for ready-made meals, jarred sauces and other culinary recipes. This could be anything from clothing to tableware. This is the advantage of having a large database of customers, since they will adopt you and very often buy your derivative products as gifts or for themselves. This could become a very interesting source of income.

Of course, this is just a quick overview of what your website can do for you. Your site works for you. As you can see, today it’s very difficult for a restaurant to do without a website.

Your newsletter :

Still linked to your website, there’s another tool you can use to increase your database. It’s the newsletter. The purpose of your newsletter is to create a strong link between the person visiting your website and your restaurant. It also aims to improve customer loyalty. Create repeat purchases. People who want to subscribe to your newsletter to receive relevant information from you. The newsletter is a great way to increase your customer database. The choice is yours, from weekly to monthly newsletters. What’s important is the relevance of the information you’re going to get inside it.

The newsletter lets you inform your subscribers about your new menu, recipes or events. As you can see, having a customer database can help your event fill up quickly and make it a success.

It’s a great way to inform your subscribers about the different culinary themes you organize throughout the year. This can be for special occasions such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. It’s a great way to promote different types of service to your customers. It can be a personalized service or a catering service for groups. Users of your newsletter could forward the information to various people in their circle, promoting your restaurant in the process. This is very interesting, as it means you don’t have to increase your marketing budget. Thanks to your newsletter, you already have ambassadors who will pass on information about your restaurant.

Once again, as you can see, the newsletter tool can be very useful. It’s not about publishing a multi-page newsletter, but something specific and concise to inform your subscribers and, above all, boost your sales.

5 tips for building your customer database for your restaurant,diversifying your services :

The third point concerns the diversification of your services. It’s important to remember that a service equals a source of income. The more you diversify your sources of income, the more likely your restaurant is to last over time and increase its sales. By diversifying your services, you can increase your customer database. It will enable you to reach different customer segments that will be added to your main database. As we saw in a previous article, this customer segmentation is very important.

Your services can be very diverse. The main idea is to improve customer loyalty and increase sales. For example, a service could be a subscription in some form, such as setting up an online ordering service on your website, which we’ll discuss in the following text.

Diversify your services:

The service could include a range of takeaways. It could also be about the more personalized services you offer. A catering service would be a fine example. An in-home chef service might be another idea. There’s also the option of setting up a service for groups. We can, of course, talk about setting up a delivery service. Without going into too much detail, this delivery service doesn’t have to be Montreal-wide, for example. It could be delimited within a kilometer radius to develop a local clientele. With this in mind, it’s entirely possible to develop your own in-house delivery service. This will help you build customer loyalty.

After all, using an outside delivery service doesn’t allow you to build up your database and customer loyalty. It’s important to think about the different services you want to set up. Always with a view to creating a viable economic business model that can withstand various crises, as we experienced in 2008/2009 and very recently in the face of the health crisis. Many restaurants suffered from this health crisis, as they only had one functional service, namely table service.

Online ordering :

There’s another service that has grown enormously in importance over the last two years. This is the online order. Always linked to your website with the aim of building your customer database, online ordering is an excellent tool for this purpose. Online ordering allows your customers to order food on a regular basis, which they can then collect directly from your restaurant or, if you have a delivery service available, have delivered directly to their home. Another advantage of online ordering is that people have already ordered and paid for their meal. Online ordering is a very important source of sales for your restaurant. It allows you to generate income other than from your restaurant.

This service offers the possibility of developing another source of customers. Online ordering enables us to shift part of our revenue production to the outside world. This frees up potential seating space in your restaurant and increases your customer traffic.

Another advantage of online ordering is that when people want to order, they can open an account, thereby increasing your customer database. They’ll also receive the newsletter with your various services. This customer database will really give you a significant economic cushion. If you have a percentage of this database who regularly order takeaway, delivery or come to eat directly at your restaurant, this provides you with an important economic base. Once again, this will save you from having to invest a large marketing budget in finding and developing new customers. Don’t forget that these same customers are excellent ambassadors for your restaurant.

5 tips to build your customer database for your restaurant, your pricing strategy :

The last point I wanted to raise concerns the pricing strategy you’re going to implement. Depending on this strategy, you’ll be able to increase or decrease your database. It’s very important to think about the price structure you’re going to offer. As with your menu, the pricing structure is an incentive for your customers. Whatever you say, the first thing customers will look for on your menu is the price. Sure, they’ll read the menu, but they’ll often look at the price attached to it. It’s important that you have decided on a price logic that will stimulate your customers to buy.

This pricing logic will increase your sales. Too often, we see prices that look the same ($18, $19, $20, $21). These prices are really close together and don’t give customers a better idea of your restaurant. A good example is the outdoor menu displayed outside the restaurant. When people stop to peruse the menu, they also take note of the suggested prices. They realize that such prices do not entice them into the restaurant.

A three-axis pricing structure is preferable. For example, a low price range, a medium price range and a higher price range. This leaves the customer free to choose the price they wish to pay. The customer chooses his dish, but at the same time refers to the price and does the calculation in his head. By thinking about your pricing structure, you’ll boost your sales and increase your database.

Conclusion of the 5 tips to build your customer database for your restaurant :

You have five tools at your disposal to help you manage your restaurant. Take the time to study each one and adapt it to your restaurant concept. Once again, it’s your customer database that will increase the value of your restaurant.

Philippe Bertrand

Founder of the Quebec Restaurant Entrepreneurship Center

  • Master of Restaurant and Hospitality Management
  • Licence Rights-Economy-Management: Creating and taking over a restaurant

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