A few months ago, I decided to try a new sushi restaurant that’s about 2 minutes from my house. It’s called Tako Sushi & Ramen. Although Halifax, Nova Scotia sits right on the ocean, the city isn’t loaded with awesome sushi places. (Side note: It’s also lacking in really amazing fish & chips places, which is beyond me…)
The food at Tako Sushi is excellent. It’s some of the best I’ve had in Halifax, and comparable to places in other cities that I’ve been to. But that’s not necessarily enough to win people over.
It’s quite easy, when starting a business, to focus almost entirely on new customers and ignore the repeat ones. How many places do you frequent on a regular basis where they remember your name or your order? How many places do you go on a regular basis where you feel welcome?
To focus on repeat customers you need new ones to begin with–but once you’ve established a decent influx of new people, it’s a good idea to turn some attention to repeat customers and turn them into loyal evangelists.
Tako Sushi does an amazing job of this. After the third visit or so, one of the owners brought our food and told us that she asked the chef to make extra. There were 6 shrimp tempura and 6 pork gyoza, instead of the usual 5. We (my family) thought that was very nice! The boys were particular impressed, because they love the shrimp tempura and gyoza.
I gave an extra big tip.
The next time we went in, the two owners (a husband and wife team) stopped what they were doing and said hello and asked how we were doing. It’s a small restaurant; everyone took notice. And then we got a free dessert along with extra shrimp tempura and gyoza.
We’ve gone back probably 20 times at this point. Each time we get free stuff. Before Xmas they gave us a special roll that the chef made. It was delicious. (And yes, that’s a picture of the roll, because we were so surprised, even though they’d been giving us lots of free stuff already.)
Each time I go, I give a bigger tip than I give anywhere else. And each time I go, I feel special — even though I know that the owners (and their staff) are equally friendly with everyone else. I see them welcome people by name when they enter the restaurant, and I’m sure they’re giving others a few extras too.
It’s so easy for the folks at Tako Sushi to recognize repeat customers and turn them into truly loyal evangelists. A few little extras and a recognition that we’ve been there before is all it took. And now I’m writing an entire blog post about the restaurant. The owners of Tako Sushi are smart and I hope they’re very successful.
And if you’ve got repeat customers (or customers that have been with you awhile), it’s worth thinking about how you can take it up a notch with a few simple things–make sure that those customers know that you care, make them feel special, and you’ll be rewarded in return.