Retention, what does it mean?

Retention is the measure of how well you create loyal repeat customers for your business. A lot of factors go into retention, including menu, server performance and marketing insights. At Upserve, retention is a big deal and we’ve built tools to help business owners not only track this key metric, but improve it.

Did you know Retention can also help you grow sales?

Keeping the customers you already have happy is important, they are the backbone of your business providing a regular stream of revenue and generally out-spending newer customers. But business owners also need to attract those new customers in order to grow sales. Well, we have good news: if you make retention a focus for your business, the customers you retain will actually help you spread the word and attract new customers to your business. 

Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.

Harvard Business School

So how do you track retention?

It’s not exactly easy. That’s why we’ve created smart tools to make tracking this vital number simpler for business owners. Here’s a little peek under the hood to help you understand the factors that contribute to retention:

At Upserve, we measure retention over a minimum of 90 days. Once you’ve brought a customer in twice within a 90 day window, we consider them retained. Don’t worry, we also tell you how many new customers you’ve brought in during any given period and even how spending habits differ between new and repeat customers.

What brought them back?

It’s difficult to pinpoint a single factor that leads to retention all on its own. Retention is more accurately described as the result of many interactions with your business over time. But there are some important areas you can focus on to affect your success in bringing customers back.

…businesses with 40% repeat customers generated nearly 50% more revenue than similar businesses with only a 10% repeat customers.

– SumAll

At Upserve, we look at specific menu items ordered, server interactions and even the marketing campaigns and promotions that aided in retaining a customer. By looking at all of these factors together you can paint a picture of what brings people back most often and start to make changes to do it better.

3 ideas for improving customer retention

  1. Put Service first. The right service can make all the difference in creating a great first-time experience at your establishment. Be sure your servers are guiding new diners to the dishes you’re known for and those that are particularly good at bringing people back. Also be sure servers promote specials, seasonal menu changes or a specific wine or cocktail you’ll be offering on special. Focus on highlighting return-worthy events by posting signage and sharing on your social networks.
  2. Smarter Menu Planning. Understand the “signature” items that diners will come to associate with your establishment and what makes those items unique. Maybe your chef makes a great mole sauce, or kicks up your mashed potatoes with a little wasabi. Whatever it is, make sure your servers are sharing which dishes get the most positive feedback to shift leaders or at staff meetings. Then have your servers promote the most winning dishes to first-time guests and see what happens.
  3. Reward customers for their loyalty. You can’t buy loyalty, you have to earn it. So once you’ve created a great experience and won them over with signature food and drink options, it’s time to offer your customers a little something special. Whether it’s an incentive to get first-time diners back in the door for visit #2 or creating exclusive invite-only events for your VIPs to make them feel special, use your loyalty program to drive retention of your most valued customers. Get to know your diners and custom-tailor your loyalty offerings to suite their likes and dislikes.

Are you currently running successful customer retention strategies? What has worked for you?

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As part of Upserve’s family of more than 10,000 restaurants, The Chef is Restaurant Insider’s secret weapon in the kitchen. As a restaurant expert in all things marketing, menu building, management, training and more, restaurateurs trust The Chef and the award-winning Restaurant Insider to dish out the ingredients needed to make your business a sweet success.