Fine Dining Strategies for the New Year

fine dining

With the New Year upon us, let’s look at the three key resolutions most pressing for fine dining marketers in 2016.

customer engagement strategies for fine dining restaurants

Make no mistake — fine dining restaurants’ success comes down to building proprietary data and developing personalized marketing campaigns to drive consistent repeat business.

Of course, the execution of such a straightforward goal requires implementing several best practices relevant specifically for fine dining marketers. In no particular order, here are this year’s three most important new year’s resolutions for fine dining marketers.

1) Incentives will always and only deliver a unique experience

Incentives always raise eyebrows — rightly so — when it comes to marketing in a fine dining context. Discounts and coupons are not, and will never be an option. However, building customer loyalty HAS to be a priority in a fine dining context. With high price points, affluent customers, and ever-changing tastes, each and every visit to a fine dining restaurant has to be beyond special in order to earn a repeat customer visit — the lifeblood of any restaurant business. So, fine dining marketers have to uncover loyalty software and solutions flexible enough to deliver incentives that make each experience extraordinary — without giving anything away. In a give-to-get world, it’s the only way marketers can ensure long-term customer retention. Whether it’s signed cookbooks, wine club memberships, or priority in-venue treatment, the rewards available for fine dining marketers need to be item-specific or experiential — never monetary.

2) Data will become a fine dining marketer’s best friend

Fine dining is a massively competitive industry — 60% of all restaurants fail within 1 year and 80% fail within 5 years. Per resolution #1, the types of customers and the market dictate that fine dining restaurants need to have a firm grasp on the current state of customer loyalty and satisfaction to see continued success. Well, there’s only one way to execute on both of the above: marketing data. The modern fine dining CMO has to be a data guru, where decisions about strategy and direction have firm mathematical roots. For example, looking at opening a new location? First, consult the drivers of success — changes in average frequency and or average spend — that led to high sales at the existing location(s). Data has to be the foundation of decision making for marketers going forward.

3) The effect of employee training and management on customer satisfaction will become an ongoing KPI

No surprise, but the key to restaurant success is keeping customers happy and making sure they always return. Well, who’s in charge of making customers happy when they are on site? Your employees! The general data is an eye opener — 20% increases in customer retention just by focusing on employee management— but more than that, fine dining marketers rely on their employees more than most businesses. The high touch customer model requires confidently nailing every customer interaction. To get started, focus on a clear key performance indicator, such as Net Promoter, and use it to monitor the effect of employee initiatives on overall restaurant performance. From there, use customer feedback to understand exactly what customers want and when. By establishing two-way communication, fine dining marketers can have their finger on the pulse of their industry for years to come.