The Popularity Problem: How to Handle Increased Store Traffic

The croissant in your tiny bakery and café was just named the best in the country by Bon Appetit Magazine. Amazing news, right? Yes… Unless your heart is with your loyal customers who stop by every morning for a coffee and pastry on their way to work.

After they were dubbed “best bakery in the country” by Bon Appetit Magazine, Arsicault Bakery faced a new logistical challenge: their wait at the counter swelled to over an hour as first-time customers flocked to the small café.

Popularity Management

Sudden popularity is both a blessing and a curse, especially for businesses that have been around for a while. For most businesses, 80% of revenue comes from just 20% of your customers. In other words, sudden popularity can provide a short-term revenue boost when people come from far and wide to visit, but if you lose your loyal customer base, you can hurt long-term revenue. So how do merchants keep their loyal customers loyal — and happy — when Bon Appetit comes around?

1. Be sure you can communicate with your customers. If you’re not actively engaging with your customers across social media and mobile, you’re missing a powerful opportunity to set expectations and reassure your customers that they are your primary concern. Loyal customers will be happy for your success but will also want to know that they haven’t been forgotten.

2. Be open to feedback. Ensure your loyal customers can provide feedback after every visit. Respond to both the positive and negative to show you listen and learn from your customers.

3. Identify your brand loyalists. Use data to understand the difference between VIPs and the curious foodies who will come once and never return. If you’re not tracking customers using purchase data, there is no way to know who your biggest spenders or most frequent customers are.

Use this data to reward your VIPs with something special. Open an hour earlier for VIP loyalty members, set aside some croissants for VIPs or have a loyalty member-only line.

4. Reward your long-term advocates. Bon Appetit didn’t just happen to visit Arsicault one day. Customer buzz has been strong all year. Give your VIPs a platform for advocating your shop and reward them when their recommendation leads to a new customer