Connected Commerce (www.connectedcommerce.net), a mobile marketing company, recently attended the 3rd Annual DC Restaurant Development Summit presented by Bisnow. Experts in the hospitality and development industries represented the panel that explored the permitting and alcohol board process, voluntary agreements, up-and-coming neighborhoods. They also discussed the “various benefits and challenges of developing or operating in DC, MD, and VA, along with how the landscape of the Restaurant Industry is changing and a look into 2014 by discussing what Restauranteurs are looking for.”
Attraction was listed as the top priority and main marketing objective for DC restaurants throughout the night. It was an especially hot topic with the expert panel consisting of Spike Mendelsohn of Good Stuff Eatery; Bill Lukashok of Hill Country; Hilda Staples; Ashok Bajaj of Knightsbridge; Chef Geoff and Mike Isabella. Each of these chefs has excelled as a leader in the restaurant industry.
The panel highlighted the importance of bringing in customers through various attraction methods such as discounts, specials and more. They discussed the challenges of owning a restaurant in the DC area and maintaining a “full-house”, something all of these panelists has succeeded in. But interestingly, customer retention and analytics were not listed as primary activities. In this case, customer retention and analytics include activities such as providing a loyalty program and interpreting customer data.
Even though businesses with a loyalty program are 88% more profitable, Connected Commerce found that, less than half of small businesses have a loyalty program for at least 1 of their locations. This resonates with the attitudes of the panel who said they are not considering customer retention as a primary marketing objective.
The same panel also discussed the crucial role that customer analytics plays in delivering the best dining experience. Many restaurant owners exclaimed that even though that information was vital to the success of opening new locations, they did not have the time to do such research.
Overall, the panel explained that time was the major factor for making retention and analytic activities less important. Therefore, a time sensitive loyalty solution that provides detailed customer data could increase profitability and demographic knowledge for many small businesses.