Details matter with regulars

2010 March: Customer InteractionI can still remember this sweet, older man who used to come into a restaurant I worked at two to three times a week nearly 20 years ago. He always ordered an ice tea with two lemons and very little ice. He liked to talk about his garden and his grandchildren. Two decades later, I still have his order locked away in my memory.

I’d like to believe that I was part of the reason he frequented the restaurant. Just as much as he appreciated our team for recognizing him each and every time he visited, the entire team would perk up when we saw George’s Lincoln pull into the lot.

It’s the familiarity that makes even the busiest of restaurants feel like home. How many Georges do you have in your restaurant? Can every employee who has customer interaction recognize them? Do your servers or counter service employees know their drink orders before they give them? Do they know their basic menu likes and dislikes? Do your managers go out of their way to make a connection with these folks each time they come in?

Having a great memory is one of the most powerful traits servers, hostesses and counter service employees can possess. Today’s employees have a significant advantage with POS systems that can help jog those memories for each frequent diner.

Be sure your staff is trained to pull those little nuggets of details from your POS system that will bring smiles to the faces of those regulars. But, it’s more than letting customers know that you acknowledge their frequency. It’s also being genuine and building that relationship and appreciation. Those efforts will reap lifelong customers.

In such an impersonal world, it’s the little things that an independent can do to stand out from the crowd.