10 ways to find customer contacts in your cafe or restaurant - and how to use them!

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Suddenly everyone realises the value of a customer list – to promote delivery and takeaway food, remind people that you’re open for business, or just to reach out to the neighbourhood.

If you’ve never taken the time to build a list, don’t worry. With just a little effort, you can find at least a hundred names with an email or mobile number. Most of them know you - that’s called a ‘warm list’, and they like what you do. Time to do some promotion - in fact they may be wondering why you never made contact!

Customer details can be stored in a huge number of locations - some of them are obvious and others less so:

  1. Your loyalty program. If you have a loyalty program through your POS or gaming platform, is it connected to a communications platform to send messages outside the venue? If not, now is the time to connect and communicate.
  2. Restaurant booking platforms - this can be a goldmine of customers who have already dined with you and are more inclined to come back. Booking systems like restauranthub give you back all of your data and don’t use it to promote competitors – you just need to access it. They often sell gift cards as well, so that’s an extra list.
  3. From your website – do you have a web sign-up form and have no idea where the information goes? You probably receive an email with the inquiry, and chances are your web company has created a table to store the data and they can access it for you. Who knew?
  4. Your social media - turn likes into a connected audience by directing people to your web sign-up form to stay connected. This is an easy extra to enable – check with your website admin or social media coordinator.
  5. Function enquiries and bookings – these are often hidden in old paper diaries. It's time to digitise these contacts and load them into your digital communications platform – a job for a patient team member or relative with spare time. If you use function booking software, it will be even easier to locate.
  6. Table ordering systems – these are now much more popular, and they gather customer data as well as the food and drinks they like.
  7. Guest WiFi - do you capture customer details when they log on? If you don’t, that's a quick way to build your audience, and it’s easy to setup. Customers appreciate free WiFi.
  8. Accommodation booking partner - some venues, particularly in regional areas, have motel rooms attached. Like regular restaurant bookings, these contacts are gold as they have already stayed with you.
  9. Sports Tipping customers – have you been running footy tipping on a bunch of fixtures with a tipping system? It’s time to collect the punter details and reconnect with them - they know you well.
  10. Business card bowl - what have you done with the dozens of business cards that you collect each month for free giveaways? It’s old fashioned, but still done – and it’s time to get typing, or use an app that will scan them and read the information.
  11. Coffee cards – (bonus extra). This the hardest one but perhaps one of the most critical, because there are so many. Next time someone comes in for a stamp, get them to complete a form (hopefully hosted by your communications partner) to capture their details. Give them an extra stamp as a bonus, a discount on that coffee, or chance to win a monthly prize.

Gather these details into a spreadsheet, load them into your digital communications platform and start talking to your customers. Keeping in touch is more critical than ever, and if your business is quiet or changing service style, it’s important to reach out more assertively.

You could do this yourself, with email services and texting, but it's much more powerful and effective to use a marketing platform like the ones outlined on energise.net.nz. They can do i t all for you, and have plenty of pre-made messages and campaigns so you don’t have to think about what to write. They can also connect your ‘data gathering systems’ into their system so people are added automatically, receive a welcome message, and are a part of ongoing communication.

Permission: when you gather customer lists, do you have permission to market to those customers? How was the information gathered e.g. did someone fill out a subscription form on your website, did they give you permission for ongoing contact? If you have data from other sources or partners you need to check their terms and conditions. When you send the first message to people, ask them to re-confirm their desire to subscribe. You must also have an unsubscribe function that works. This is why using an email marketing platform with a built-in unsubscribe tools is important.

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