New research has found that UK restaurant owners are struggling with staff costs and customer loyalty. Managing labour costs was cited as the top challenge for restaurant owners (61%), followed by cash flow (39%) and maintaining customer loyalty (34%). When asked what they expect their restaurant business to invest in this year, the majority chose hiring and training staff (56%).
Givex, the cloud-based customer engagement solution that helps to streamline business operations from end to end, spoke to restaurant owners in the UK to understand their business priorities. 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 see loyalty as an increasing priority.
“It’s not surprising that staff costs and training are priorities, considering the looming Brexit deadline,” says 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.”
Ketel continues: “Historically, it has been challenging for restaurants to develop successful loyalty programmes. The rise of delivery app partners doesn’t help with loyalty 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.”
Over 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%).
“Some have built loyalty via discount codes, but this can be a vicious circle – customers then always expect a discount when eating there. This is where POS technology can help. If there’s a system keeping track of a customer’s orders, times they come in and what items are most popular on the menu, it’s much easier to build loyalty programmes around them” Ketel concludes.