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Turning the Tables: 5 Powerful Tactics for Winning Back Your Old Customers
Prasad Vemulapalli | June 03, 2023

For a restaurant, customer retention is vital. It has been observed that acquiring a brand new customer costs 6-7 times more than retaining an old one. Additionally, an old customer will tend to spend more, increasing your restaurant’s profits exponentially. Another way loyal customers help your restaurant is by word of mouth, which is still the best form of marketing out there.

Getting new customers is the lifeblood of your restaurant, but you should be careful that it does not come at the cost of old customers. If you are wondering how to win back old customers, here are 5 powerful customer retention strategies to make a big difference in your restaurant business.

Top-of-the-line Customer Service

If you have exceptional and attentive customer service, it will keep your customers coming back for more. A great dining experience is defined by great food, awesome ambiance, and a high degree of hospitality. 

If you can ensure that every customer's visit, whether it be the first, third, or tenth, is memorable and pleasant, then you have won the battle. However, remember that outstanding service is a relative term. What seems like an exceptional effort on your restaurant’s part may be the norm for another restaurant. 

Be mindful of the quality of the food, the portion size, and the price charged for it. Make the pricing competitive. Ensure that your customer does not have to wait long to get the order delivered to his table. Otherwise, he will be annoyed and less likely to visit. 

Another big factor to keep in mind is the waiter-to-table ratio. If it is a casual restaurant where the customer does not expect a high degree of service, the waiter-to-table ratio is about 6-8, and each table seats 4 people on average. However, if your restaurant is high-end, consider decreasing the waiter-to-table ratio. This will go a long way to win back lost customers. 

Develop a Personal Touch

A customer is highly likely to return to a restaurant where he has been treated in a special manner. You should train your restaurant staff to be more hospitable and welcoming in little ways that grab customers’ attention. A great win back strategy is for waiters to remember the customers by name, their favorite orders, and their preferences. If the waiting staff is familiar, it will result in high customer retention and engagement. 

Engaging in polite small talk with the customer is okay, but it should be just enough to make him feel comfortable and not sound over-imposing. Your staff must also be trained to gauge the customer’s mood and behavior, so they are not disturbed if they do not wish to be. 

Guest interaction is a big part of etiquette training, and you have to ensure that your waiting staff is properly groomed before they can be depended upon to interact with customers in a familiar tone and voice. When a restaurant greets their regular customers properly, engages in small talk, and makes the dining experience comfortable, it significantly increases the likelihood of retaining them as loyal patrons. 

Make Use of CRM

When it comes to the question of customer retention and engagement, your customer relationship management (CRM) software is the key. A company like OrderEm can help you streamline your CRM and leverage it to personalize the customer experience. The CRM stores precious customer data, including birthdays, anniversaries, and contact details. This database can be used to engage in a personal manner with your customers.

It is possible to send customers birthday greetings, anniversary congratulatory messages, and custom menus to whet their appetite. Customers will reward you by remembering your establishment the next time they venture out for a meal. Your restaurant will be the venue for many happy occasions for old and faithful customers. 

The CRM data can be utilized to prepare customized email messages with unique subject lines that address the customer by name and remind him of his previous visits to your restaurant. Point of Service integrated CRM will inform you of your customers' preferences and target needs. You can use this valuable data to run targeted marketing campaigns, and it will also help you when planning a new menu or putting a new strategy in place. 

Gather and Value Customer Feedback

For your restaurant business to grow, customer feedback is very important, as it will help you identify areas of strength and weakness to improve your services and retain loyal customers. It also allows you to address your flaws and build a better business strategy. 

When you ask a customer for feedback, it will make him/her feel important and valued. A great idea is for you, the host, to approach your customers during their meal and gently ask if everything is to their satisfaction. If your guest is unhappy about something, you have to immediately address that grievance so that it can be resolved on the spot. Acting promptly shows your customer that you value his feedback and are willing to take steps to improve his dining experience on the fly. 

Nowadays, customers use social media as well as restaurant review sites to share their feedback and give an account of their dining experience. Other first-time guests often go by these reviews when selecting a new restaurant to dine out at. Hence, you must keep an eye on customer reviews, which are imperative to your restaurant’s reputation.

Always respond to reviews, whether they are positive or negative. If the reviewer has nice things to say about your restaurant, thank him and invite him back to dine. If the review is negative, do not lose your cool and address it in the proper manner. 

Use Online Marketing

If you want to win back your old customers, use online marketing tools to keep them in the loop about different events at your restaurant. If you see it has been a while since a customer has dined at your restaurant, send them an SMS or a personalized email saying you missed his patronage. 

OrderEm recommends adding a personal touch to the email with a hefty discount on their favorite dish or even making it a complimentary offering on a minimum bill. This will pique their interest and compel them to visit your restaurant. Another option is to send customized push notifications to old customers’ mobile phones, keeping them updated on the latest going on at your establishment. 

Another great way to market your restaurant is through social media campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. When you interact with customers via tweets and comments, it forges a personal bond between you and your customer, driving interaction and engagement. 


Your quality of service and the quality of your food will determine if you can secure the loyalty of old customers while increasing footfall at your restaurant. The tips outlined above will help boost customer retention at your restaurant and make your establishment the talk of the town. The restaurant industry has severe competition, and it does not take much for customers to switch loyalties. However, if you employ the above tips, there is a great chance that you will be able to retain old customers while winning new ones.

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