I just got back from a holiday in Spain, and very nice it was too. One of my favourite things about going to Spain is enjoying fresh food and working through the menus in the ‘Chiringuitos’, the beachside restaurants that specialise in freshly caught and cooked seafood, cooked ‘al espeto’ – on a wood smoke spit. Ah the memories of the wafting scent of fresh sardines mingled with sea air – bliss!
One thing I really noticed this year was the effort that some of the restaurants were putting in to attract custom. It’s no secret that Spain has been suffering hard times economically, as have certain other EU countries, and you can tell by this effort to pull in business that things have been hard recently.
Some of the restaurants seemed to be doing quite well for their efforts which was good to see. I’ve actually never seen so many restaurant staff standing outside their eateries, handing out leaflets, taking the time to explain the menu to those who stopped to take an interest and promoting offers such as a free bottle of wine with a meal or a free aperitif, or a ‘chupito’ (free liqueur shot) with the bill.
All good ways to get noticed, and it was working for those who made the effort, from what I could see. But once these restaurants had lured their clientele, could they succeed in getting them back for a second visit? In marketing, repeat business is the all-important clincher to keep that bottom line buoyant.
There was one restaurant we went to for lunch several times, perhaps half a dozen or more. Why? They weren’t handing out leaflets or promoting a special offer, although their menu was probably one of the most reasonable. No; the reason we kept going back? The service. It was flawless. And the welcome was so friendly and inviting every time. They remembered what we liked to drink, and that we passed on the bread. There was never any complacency; as we had become regular customers perhaps the service could have slackened, but no, it continued to impress as it did the very first time, right to the last day when we said our hasta luegos and see you next years. And we’ll definitely be going back to Chiringuito Isabel next year.
The moral of this story? Doing everything you can to grab new customers is great; but never forget the customers you already have are valuable assets to your business. Welcome them as new every time they place an order, offer the personal touch bowing to their specific needs, and always make sure the service provided is impeccable every time so that they come back, year after year.