(Blogger’s Note: This is the first in a three part series on how vital regulars are to a restaurant’s success and how to develop that special clientele.)
Atmosphere, food quality, creativity, presentation, competitive pricing, professional service and staff; all tangible ingredients contributing to a restaurant’s success.
Aside from these – and there are potentially hundreds more – one of the most vital contributions often overlooked by owners and managers are the “regulars”. These are the people who help solidify a restaurant’s reputation by being there frequently. These are the customers who know as many people who step over the threshold as the manager, who know the menu by heart, the servers by first name, and the second a drink price increases. They can be a pain. And, at times they can seem like an inconvenience. Some demand more attention than others at what seems like the most inopportune time. We can certainly tire of them, sooner than they seem to tire of us. Regulars, at times, especially late at night, bend or even break house rules and become irregular in with their behavior. But they are a needed ingredient on the road to success. And, we are losing those to sociological factions we too use on a regular basis.
Just as the world sees a daily increase in Twitter, tweets, Facebook, MySpace users, restaurants are noticing a dwindling population of regulars. As more people watch their dollars and disposable income and opt for the instant diversity of cyber space communities and coffee shop camaraderie restaurants need to revert back to the practices that enticed regulars into becoming, regulars. Over the years these may have faded away.
Online communities are virtually robbing us of our clientele. To talk, discuss and kibitz, to become engrossed in the unimportant banter, the meaningless conversations, and the small talk we all spoke during happy hours has been replaced by inviting cafes with Wi-Fi single seats and a vast cyber space world where nobody needs to buy anyone else a drink or cocktail. Regulars, those customers, who look forward to dropping in for a coffee, a cocktail, a meal or a snack, and do it often and regularly to meet their friends and coworkers are as important to a restaurant’s success as the menu. They help develop your restaurant’s community. And we need to analyze what we are doing to contribute to that community development.
Once upon a time there was little need to even think about regulars. They just seemed to happen. The regimen was standard: Bob would unlock the door and the regulars would appear. However, with today’s focus on social media, most of it electronic, and the failing of the newspaper as most of us know it, there is less and less inner action between individuals.
Every eatery, whether a caf?, a diner, a bar, bistro, trattoria or tavern needs regulars. And often, the amount of regulars a restaurant boasts directly can be attributed to its success. If the old adage, nothing succeeds like success is true, along with the other old adage that nothing is worse than an empty restaurant, regulars can be helpful as we strive to obtain success.
On any given afternoon, whether sunny, cold, rainy or sweltering, JG Melon’s in
The same holds true in
Think about it, long after regulars of fame and fortune have passed away, their legacies live on. Norm is missed as much as Cheers itself. Hemmingway, a regular who would saunter up to his stool at Sloppy Joe’s in Key West, is still memorialized at the bar today. And at Sweeney’s Saloon in
Yes, as our regulars fade off and are either courted by the competition, the coffee shop around the corner or decide they have finally tired of us, we need to talk more about saving them, plan more to attract them and advertise – on social media outlets that we want them back.
Tomorrow: What the competition is doing to attract regulars.