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Turning Christmas Visitors into Year-Round Regulars

Posted by - Last updated: Thursday December 01st 2016

Customers are at the very heart of every successful hospitality business. We often see pubs, bars, and restaurants referring to their “valued” customers, and many a manager has opined that “customers pay the bills.” But how often do we think about how much a customer is truly worth us in financial terms? In an industry where accurate forecasting and budgeting, and tight P+L controls are always hot topics, the answer, we suspect, is all too rarely.

Christmas is a golden opportunity to attract year-round custom

Naturally some customers spend more than others. Those who visit for Sunday lunch every week are worth more than the average, and those who only come in once a year on their birthday are worth less. Nonetheless, averages are a useful guide.

So how much is a food customer worth?

Let’s say the average food customer eats a meal with you once a month, in a group of three people, and has one course half the time and two the other half. If a main course costs £8 and a second costs £4 – conservative estimates in modern times – they spend £30 each month, or £360 a year.

If you make a 50% margin on that customer (including product and labour costs), over their lifetime they could be worth ten or even twenty times that, amounting to a total of £1,800 profit or more.

So how much money would you spend in to capture that customer’s loyal business? Investment in this area can very quickly pay for itself. Just ask banks, who spend fortunes on attracting young customers, knowing that people are rarely inclined to switch.

And how much is a drink customer worth?

If a drinker comes in to your business twice a week and has on average a drink and a half at £3 per drink, they spend £9 a week or more than £30 a month. In terms of sales revenue they’re just as valuable as their hungry counterparts.

Depending on your trading style, drinks only customers may be very common or somewhat rare, but they should rarely be overlooked.

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Propping up the bar or propping up your profits?

Christmas brings a host of occasional customers to bars and restaurants. Last December, one of our staff was asked whether the pub where he was working had a smoking room. The lady who asked him had apparently not been out for a drink since before the 2007 ban. The challenge for operators is how to convert these irregular visitors into valuable repeat customers. But how can this be done?

Service and Product Quality

That office party full of people who only go out to socialise once or twice a year is the perfect chance to show them exactly what they’re missing. Ensuring the quality of the products and service they receive is first-rate is the simplest way to tempt them back more often in the future.

Great service starts with making sure you have the right people working in the right place at the right time. S4Labour is a helpful tool to assist you in scheduling the perfect staff profile for your shifts.

Data Capture

More and more hospitality customers enjoy engaging with the operators they visit using technology. Operators can use this as a fruitful way to capture their data and contact details. They can then be proactive in reaching out to customers with information, advertising, and offers designed to bring in repeat custom.

Wi-Fi log-ins, brand apps, and promotional giveaways that require an email address to join are all great strategies that allow customers’ details to be recorded.

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Capturing customer data is a hot topic in hospitality

Know the worth to your business of your customers, and succeed in turning your Christmas visitors into year-round regulars, and that festive feeling need not end when December turns to January.

Featured image by V.ivash – Freepik.com

Alec Vještica

A hospitality professional who combines an analytical mind with energy and frontline experience in his approach, Alec worked in managed houses for companies including Greene King and Samuel Smith's before joining Catton in 2016. He is passionate about the industry and always enjoys meeting operators across all sectors.

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