Gaining Customer Loyalty Through the

  • Aug 16, 2011

build your restaurant's brandAustin, Texas:  While on vacation last week, our family spent a few days in Seattle before embarking on an Alaskan cruise.

While sight-seeing downtown, we stood in a long “line” at a fish restaurant called Ivar’s, where we  shouted out our order and huddled with a mass of people waiting for our tasty fish n’ chips.  Not more than a block and a half down from this restaurant were several other similar restaurants— all offering fish n’ chips and all with attractive storefronts —  but none with any lines.

What was the difference?

Later that day, we went to Pike Place Market, where one fish stand had a crowd of people standing, watching the employees toss frozen fish around, while most of the other frozen fish vendors did not have much of a line at all.

What was the difference?

Across the street from the market was a Russian bakery called Piroshky’s that literally had a line wrapped around the corner.  In fact, it seemed to be the only place in the building that had any business at all.

What was the difference?

Two days later, in Alaska, we wanted to go on a whale watching boat tour, only to find out that the one we wanted has been sold out for weeks, so we had to settle for another tour that still had ample seating. It was very nice, but we felt shorted in the end because it wasn’t the tour that our neighbors had bragged about.

What was the difference?

Why is it that some restaurants and other retail establishments have that special “it” factor, while others, with better food, do not have what it takes?

Is it luck? Possibly. Perhaps a food critic happened to a restaurant, wrote an article and created buzz.  This can certainly help in the short-term, but eventually, if the food quality was lacking and the pricing not commensurate witht he atmosphere, this placxe would no longer capture the attention of the public.

Is it the pricing? Probably not.  Lunch at Ivar’s cost us over $40 for three people – and it was considered fast food. We were not looking for lowest price, we wanted to go to a place that seemed “happening”.

Is it the food (product) quality? Could be. But the fried clams tasted very similar to what I used to get at Howard Johnson’s all-you-can-eat restaurant I remembered as a child. Tasty.  But not the end all of fried clams.

Is it the location?  Doubtful.  Sure, the fish market that had the longest line was in a corner location, but so were a few other fish markets. Location can certainly help attract walk-in customers, but I have seen many prime location restaurants and retailers fail miserably.

All these factors, when taken individually, can have a small impact. But, when taken as an entirety, these factors can make any company shine brighter than the others.

But, all four of these places above were recommended to us–either through Facebook, through a Google search or by someone else.

  • What is your company doing to create an “it” factor?
  • How are you differentiating yourself from your competition?
  • How are you getting your name out in front of your customers?
  • How are you creating referrals?
  • How is your brand being perceived?
  • Do your customers perceive your image the same way as you perceive it?  If not, why not?
  • Are you making it easy to get “tagged” on Facebook?  If my wife can’t easily tag your business on her iPad, then you are not going to get an instant referral.
  • Are you using social media to build your brand, or are you “too busy to find the time”?
  • Are you asking your employees for feedback?
  • Are you talking to your customers all the time?  Are you also listening to them?

Take some time and think about what you can do to become the place with the “it” factor.

  • Create an identity.
  • Build it.
  • Brand it.
  • Promote it.
  • Live it.
  • Preach it.
  • Become the “it”.

Start right away. Customer loyalty begets referrals. Every business needs both to survive and to thrive.

What are you going to do to become the “it” retailer in your community?

I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.


  • Category: Blog, Retailer Incentives
  • Tags: create buzz, creating buzz for your brand, creating loyalty, creating loyalty for restaurant, customer referrals, gain more referrals, get customers to refer you, how to differentiate your brand, imag