Consider this: if a person wants to dine out and impress some friends or business colleagues, where would he go—to a random restaurant where nobody knows him, or to a place where all he needs to do is show his card and he gets to be treated with instant recognition?
You’re right—anyone would easily choose the second option.
One of the best ways to turn your random diners into loyal customers is to develop a diner’s club in your restaurant. Or you could prefer to call it a VIP Club. People love the idea of being recognized, hence their preference for establishments that treat them differently from the rest—they simply love the idea of being set apart.
We chanced upon a few tips from the site The Restaurant Commando on how to help you develop your VIP Club listing:
Present a clear benefit.
Simply placing a fishbowl near the cash register where your guests can drop their business cards might help, but it will not really give you the best results. Your guests will not line up and stumble over themselves to get a chance to be on your list. Offer a clear, interesting benefit in exchange for being in your VIP directory: a chance to dine at your exclusive VIP room, valet service, free appetizers or any other catchy promotion you can think of.
Equip yourself with trained and motivated staff.
Nothing really sells by itself—and that includes your VIP Club. Allow your staff, in their smart, outstanding aprons, to do the sales work for you, and you can’t do that without properly training them. Training includes letting them see your vision, and allowing them to understand how this would impact the restaurant and their job. It’s best to keep the mechanics simple, and don’t allow them to improvise (we’re talking about adlibs) too much—provide them with a script, role-play and practice a number of times until the spill comes out naturally and automatically.
But motivating staff in aprons do not end with letting them see your vision—they should be convinced that what they are selling is good for their customers, too. Come up with benefits that are attractive for your guests—benefits that even your staff would want for themselves. If you can sell them the idea, then they won’t have any problems selling it forward to their guests. Incentives also do the trick.
Come up with special events.
Make good use of the calendar, capitalizing on holidays, both the important and the not-so-important ones. Federal holidays alone already sum up to 20. Add the not so important ones that you can take advantage of, exploiting our love for food holidays, and you’ll have a lot going in your restaurant.
Nurturing your VIP Club membership will tremendously help your restaurant’s performance—it will reduce the necessity to constantly spend for restaurant advertisements and promotions, give you more control on the kind of clientele you wish to attract, and dramatically boost sales.