New research has found that staff costs and customer loyalty are at the forefront of UK restaurants’ minds when it comes to the issues they are most concerned about.
Managing labour costs was cited as the top challenge for restaurant owners (61%), followed by cash flow (39%) and maintaining customer loyalty (34%) based on a list of options given to them by customer engagement specialist Givex.
When asked what they expect their restaurant business to invest in this year, the majority chose hiring and training staff (56%).
Respondents said they expect to invest in takeaway services (47%) and developing loyalty programmes and marketing over the next year (29%), suggesting that restaurant owners recognise how vital it is to improve customer retention.
“It’s not surprising that staff costs and training are priorities, considering the looming Brexit deadline,” said Jurgen Ketel, managing director at Givex. “A KPMG report suggests that a quarter of employees in the UK’s restaurant and hospitality industries are from the EU, amounting to some three million workers. Brexit could have a massive impact on labour for restaurants, so it’s important that they upskill the teams they already have.”
Mr Ketel said that historically it has been challenging for restaurants to develop successful loyalty programmes and argued that the rise of delivery app partners doesn’t help with the situation either, as customers are usually more loyal to the delivery partner rather than the restaurants they order from.
In addition, customer data belongs to the delivery partner, which means restaurants have no way of tracking their customers or engaging with them if they stop ordering from them.”
More than a quarter of respondents (26%) said that they don’t currently track loyal customers. Of those who do have a loyalty programme in place (33%), the most popular way to reward customers is with discounts (48%), followed by a free drink or meal (40%) and exclusive events (21%).