By Nick Fosberg   |   June 12, 2011

Bar Owners, Are You Keeping Customers Loyal?

How well do you know your customers? Do you have a steady stream of regular customers or a constant sea of new faces who just happen to stumble upon your bar? New faces may seem like business is booming, but if they don’t return you haven’t gained a thing. Without loyal customers or a loyalty program in place, you will continually struggle with slow nights, lower profits, and the competition stealing customers away.

How is loyalty won?

Loyalty will actually be given to you if you take the time to make personal connections and go beyond customer expectations. Bar patrons also love seeing familiar faces and being part of group where they can just hang out, have a drink, and enjoy great conversation. So you have to ask yourself…do you make it enticing to come into your establishment? If you want repeat customers and customers begging to have their next party at your bar, building loyalty is necessary.

First Things First…Develop a Customer Database

Not as hard as it sounds, but a necessary step. You need a system to record and track just who your customers are. Entering names, emails, addresses, and phone numbers into a spreadsheet on your computer is a quick way to capture this data. To target your customers and let them know about special offers, you must be able to contact them. If you want to take it a step further, you can always purchase database software to keep this information. This allows you to run reports on spending habits, average $ amount of orders, etc. However, whatever you do, just get started in retaining customers.

How to Collect Customer Information

Believe it or not, customers who have a great experience at your bar willingly give their contact information to you. Make them irresistible offers, but still bring healthy profits to the bar owner is a win-win for everyone. The secret is “You must GIVE to RECEIVE” and what you will receive is customer loyalty.

Collect information by offering contests or encouraging customers to fill out comment cards. Once you collect this information, send out mailings to offer them a gift certificate or a discount for an upcoming celebration. This keeps customers returning to your bar and not the competition’s. Bar owners must be innovative and come up with offers that a customer just cannot turn down.

From $30 to $2,880

Studies have shown that it is 7 times more profitable to retain a customer than to attract new ones. To look at it in hard numbers…take for example a regular customer coming into your bar and spending on average $30 twice a week. That is $60 a week, $240 a month or $2880 a year. See how valuable it is to keep a customer happy than have to spend money on advertising to bring in new clientele? You should always consider the long-term benefits of keeping customers happy and returning time after time – not just the single day transaction.  And remember…customers typically don’t come to the bar alone, they bring friends!

Of course, once you have new customer contact information, follow up with a thank you letter and a gift card or coupon enclosed. This encourages the customer to return. Customers also appreciate the contact and that their patronage is appreciated. Too often, businesses become complacent and don’t implement the simple steps it takes to show gratitude.

Nick Fosberg

Nick Fosberg is known as one of the highest paid, marketing and promotional consultants in the bar & restaurant industry and he owns 2 bar / restaurants in the Chicagoland area. He's famous for creating some of the highest grossing digital marketing promotions in the history of the bar & restaurant business..... without spending a penny on marketing. All done through e-mail & Facebook posts. 

Click here to get a free copy of my latest book.

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