Creating loyal customers is a challenge that many businesses face. This week the Midland Retail & Hospitality Forum (MRF) started their 2020 event campaign with a deep dive into how hospitality businesses can drive footfall and increase loyalty. A panel of local hospitality experts gathered at Maribel’s restaurant in Birmingham to share their insights.

Loyalty cannot be measured in a single transaction; it can only be over a period of time. With so much competition, often from the national chains, restaurants have to be ready to invest in longer time success. Maribel’s young head chef Harvey Pertolla highlighted; “The key is a combination of product and consistency. Customers become loyal when you regularly deliver a great meal and want to come again and again”.

Hospitality can be a tough industry to work in; if you are ‘front of house’ you can have to deal with demanding customers. It doesn’t get much easier in the kitchen, working in the heat and under constant pressure you creativity and desire can be challenged. This is something Alex Claridge of the Wilderness, knows all too well;

“Its often long hours and you genuinely need a real passion to do this. It can certainly be rewarding though, we love the fact that I can contribute to red letter days for so many of our guests.”

Loyal customers not only repeat buy, but also are great marketers for your business – they will tell your family and friends all about you. So what were some of the insights shared?

  • Focus on quality ingredients, taste and presentation of your restaurant and your food. Don’t fall into the trap of competing with the chains who often target the middle of the market.
  • Once your customers come to you, look after them and ensure the reality is just as good, or better than the perception. Don’t fail at this hurdle.
  • Always remember that customers do not simply come to you to eat, they are often celebrating an occasion and creating a memory. Only a memorable complete experience will lead to a return visit and this is how we start to create loyal customers.

The next MRF event is looking at the upcoming changes to Coventry City Centre as they prepare to be the City of Culture 2021. The event is will take place at the Coventry BID office on Mon 17th February. Registration information can be found via Twitter, Eventbrite or their website;


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