Bartender preparing a drink using tricks

Loyal customers dine often, tip generously, and spread the word about your restaurant. On average, it costs around 6 – 7 times more to get a new customer, than to service a loyal one. How can you build customer loyalty out of casual customers? By making everyone who comes into your restaurant feel like one of your VIPs. As a restaurateur, it’s your job to train everyone on the tips and tricks for making this happen.

Here are some of our favorite bartender tricks for turning every guest into a VIP.

Learn their names & drinks.

Make regular guests feel at home by welcoming them by name, and knowing their favorite drinks. Don’t feel shy about asking the name of a familiar face, and introducing yourself. People who feel comfortable and welcome will want to keep coming back.

Make valuable recommendations.

Plenty of the guests at your bar are there for the experience as much as they are for the drink, perhaps even more so. See a familiar face who likes to try different wine? Let him know what new wines you just put on the list. Remember that someone asks about craft beer on each visit? Fill her in on the new seasonal kegs arriving this weekend.

Pay attention to the environment.

Sitting at the bar is about more than just drinking – guests can do that at home. Pay attention to the whole bar scene and make adjustments as needed. Is the TV or music too loud? Is the setting sun blinding half the bar? Is it suddenly cold because the air conditioning is cranking? Make adjustments as you go to keep a comfortable atmosphere.

bartender tricks for serving guests

Thank them for bringing in friends.

Your best customers can be your most valuable advocates. If you notice them bringing in new faces for happy hour, make a point to thank them. Be friendly to the new people, and introduce them to your restaurant by offering to tell them about the menu, or giving a free snack to the group.

Project a sense of calm.

Bar scenes are often bustling and full of all different kinds of people from different backgrounds, all there for different reasons. A bartender doesn’t know everyone’s story, but keeping a calm vibe, even in the midst of a rush, can set people at ease and make them feel instantly comfortable.

Invite guests back.

If you can sense a guest at your bar having a great time, invite them to come back and see you again. When settling the bill don’t just thank them for coming in, follow that up by inviting them back. If you host special events like trivia night, mention that specifically.

Bartenders often set the first impression for your restaurant, and you want to be sure each is trained in the bartender tricks that you see as an asset to your restaurant.

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Kristin lives on the West Side of Providence with her wine blogger husband. When she's not co-hosting their monthly wine tastings, she's planning her next travel adventure and daydreaming about Spanish jamón. She can often be found pouring over travel guides at her favorite neighborhood spot, Nick's on Broadway.