Customer relationship management. Yeah, I know, it sounds boring. And you are right, it is a marketing term after all.


What an important element to this whole hospitality business. One thing I have learned through my decades in the business, my many years of teaching restaurant management, and talking to many clients, is that the only thing that matters in the end is getting your customers to return.


Forgive me, for I have used this one before, but if in the real estate business the focus is on location, location, location; in the hospitality business it is retention, retention, retention.

It is all about getting them to come back. One of the most effective ways to do that is through CRM. Knowing your customers, their likes and dislikes, really helps you to manage them.

Favorite server?

Do they have a favorite server? Who is the backup plan if their favorite server is not working that night when they come in? Where do they like to sit? What wine do they usually go for?


I remember a friend of mine relating a story about the last time he ate at his favorite restaurant in San Francisco. When he called to make his reservation, the person on the other end of the phone finished the conversation with this gem: “Would you like your usual Bombay Sapphire martini waiting for you when you arrive?”


That’s what I call customer relationship management. Manage your customers. Don’t ignore those regulars who return to your place again and again. Go chat them up.

If you think you remember them from a previous visit, but you are not sure, go over and say hello. Get to know them. Turn that occasional customer into a regular customer. And then keep them a regular customer by managing their CRM!

Personalize it

That’s all customer relationship management really is. Learning the details of your customers and then doing your best to fulfill those wants and needs.

I have in the past recommended that you keep a journal up at the front desk with your regular customers names and what they like. A good idea, and a powerful tool. Of course, these days it would be easier to just make it a program in your POS system.

Set it up and then train your employees to use it. If you are off for the evening, you want to still be sure that your staff is taking care of your customers. Especially your regular customers.

Don’t ignore this important element. As the saying goes, take care of your customers, and they will take care of you.



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