How to Turn New Guests Into Regulars

We know how expensive it is to find new guests. The high cost of finding new guests is one reason why building up a core following of regulars is important to the long-term success of any restaurant. With new, easy-to-use technology tools that smooth the transition from customer search to reservation, we offer these suggestions and tips to amp up the customer experience and convert new guests into regulars.

Make Guests Feel Comfortable Before they Sit Down

“I love standing in line,” said no one ever. With Yelp Nowait, hanging out at the front of a restaurant, waiting for a chance to sit down is a thing of the past. Guests get in line through the Yelp app, can view their place in line, and are automatically notified when their table is almost ready.  It all happens in real time with no input required from your staff. Diners who get in line via the Yelp App return to the same restaurant at more than 2x the rate as other diners. That means more diners at your restaurant as well as more frequent diners. Say hello to your new regulars.  

Consistent, Friendly Service Never Goes out of Style

What do you remember about your favorite childhood restaurant? More likely than not, you remember the service – a friendly owner who knew you preferred a table next to the fish tank  or a dedicated server who remembered your Shirley Temple order before you sat down. That was a place you wanted to go back to. As an adult, you still do. Great customer service creates memorable experiences that keeps diners coming back. And service, yesterday and today, comes from the staff and management at your restaurant. Hiring the right staff and keeping them up-to-date is always important.

Start your Own Buzz

People like new experiences so give guests a reason to come back. Got a special event that is coming up? Or a new menu? Let guests know about it on your Yelp page and other social media outlets. Or use that email list you’ve developed and begin an email marketing plan. Then use those tools to respond to guest queries, let them know when a special dish is available, or toot your own horn.

Tech Can Help Build your Repeat Rate


Did you know that the marketing cost of finding new customers is five times as high as bringing in repeat business[i] ? Encouraging repeat business is a cost-effective way to fill up everyone’s stations, every night. That’s where Yelp WiFi comes in. Customers like WiFi which is great but it helps on the business side, too. By using WiFi, customers provide their name and email address, enabling you to capture an email from your guest. This is an essential building block to communicating with your guests. Use it to invite them back for a special event, send them promotions, or just to say hello and keep your brand and your restaurant front of mind.   


Make Your Repeat Customers Feel Special

Everyone wants to feel special, at least occasionally. Regulars already like the experience at your restaurant but a small touch – a few moments spent chatting on a busy night, a peek into the kitchen, an extra amuse or dessert – make them feel like one of the family. Take the time to find out what makes your regulars happy. The benefit may be a customer who helps do your marketing for you.

Service Comes in Many Forms

Awesome customer service and terrific food are at the heart of any restaurant experience. But a few small improvements in tools and prep can boost the number of regulars you attract to your restaurant and reduce your customer acquisition costs. Satisfied guests and business owners? Double happiness.