Jon Taffer Shares Brilliant Advice to Restaurant Owners on Creating Loyal Customers

Repeat business is a huge factor in restaurant success. So, how can you drive customer loyalty?

Jon Taffer, host of Bar Rescue, shared several tips for creating customer loyalty in an appearance on Gary Vaynerchuk’s podcast.

The main point Taffer made was that restaurants need to focus on getting customers to come back at least three times. He cited statistics saying that customers who have a great experience at a restaurant on their first and second visits have about a 40 percent likelihood of coming back. But those who have a great experience on their third visit return at a rate of over 70 percent.

He said on the podcast, “You’ve got to make it to three visits, not one.”

So how can you accomplish this? Taffer laid out a detailed plan for restaurant owners. Here are the important steps.

Identify First Time Customers

Before you can create an intentional experience for new customers, your staff needs to know who they are. Taffer suggests a simple trick like giving these tables red napkins instead of white. Initial conversations with new visitors and/or the presence of a coupon for new customers can help your team determine who fits this criteria.

Provide a Memorable Experience

Of course, you’re only going to get those first-time customers to come back for a second visit if the experience is memorable. Taffer recommends providing an incentive, like a free rib dinner. Then, focus on providing excellent customer service, so they’re more likely to be open to a second visit.

Offer a Discount

To further incentivize the second visit, Taffer suggests offering a discount on a new menu item they have yet to try. For example, if they had a free rib dinner for their first visit, offer a discount on your chicken dish for the second visit.

Entice Them to Try New Menu Options

The general idea is the same for the second visit. Start by identifying those second-time visitors; Taffer suggests setting a business card on the table. Your team should be able to tell who is on their second visit based on conversations with them, or if they have a coupon to use for their discounted chicken dinner.

Then, continue to provide exceptional service and entice them with even more menu options to try on their next visit. For example, if they’ve already had the ribs and chicken, offer a free cheesecake on their third visit.

Basically, Taffer lays out a funnel for restaurants to put customers through. Except, this funnel isn’t about converting prospects into first-time buyers, it’s about turning first-time visitors into loyal customers. The details like menu items and napkin colors may vary from restaurant to restaurant. But the idea of creating a process to entice at least three visits is one that nearly any restaurant can benefit from.

Check out the clip of Taffer sharing this advice from this Facebook Reel:

Image: Envato

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.