hamburger and friesHaving great ideas for a restaurant and making excellent food will bring in customers. Yet, how can you keep them coming back? Here are four tips you can put into place to ensure that you increase your number of repeat customers:

Offer a weekly drawing for a free meal. 

Having customers put their names in a drawing to win a free meal is a great way to encourage loyalty. If you're worried about the expense of the free meal, remember that most people like to eat out with others. You might get extra business from the acquaintances of the winner of the meal. You can also use the contact info to build your mailing list. You can engage with customers by sending holiday greetings, updates, menu changes and coupons. 

Start a loyalty card program. 

There's no better way to build loyalty than to offer a free item after the customer purchases ten at full price. This will keep a restaurant in customers' minds. Customers will also stop in frequently to get their reward sooner. This can be as simple as creating some punch cards on colored card stock.

Host monthly theme nights. 

Your restaurant might host a family night with free activities, games, prizes and meal specials. This will help to attract your target demographic. Your coffee shop could host a hometown band to get a more diverse group of patrons. Be sure to plan events that are within the parameters of your restaurant insurance. That way, you don't take on excess liability. 

Get involved in the community. 

Reserve part of your restaurant's earnings for giving back to the community. You can give back via man hours or monetary donations. You can have your staff represent the restaurant at community events. You can contribute to various causes so that your name gets out and stays among your fellow citizens. People love to patronize businesses who donate to causes that they are fond of.

Also, work to create a fun company culture that keeps your employees on top of their work and engaged with customers. Excellent customer service will go a long way in ensuring repeat business.

Do you have tips for building a customer base at your restaurants? Comment below!
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