Simple steps to grow your customer base and build brand loyalty

Running a hospitality business can be hard. It’s often difficult to get the time away from the day-to-day operations to think about how you can grow your business, let alone research marketing ideas or strategies.

Increasing customer loyalty is a simple but very effective way for you to get more orders, increase recommendations and drive revenue. In this handy guide, we’ll give you simple, actionable ideas you can quickly implement into your business to help increase your customer base and build brand loyalty.

Avoid the trap!

Deciding to grow your customer base can open up a trap that most people fall into.

If we want to grow our revenue we need to find new customers to sell to! Right, so, how do we get new people through the door? 

The truth is that most businesses will generate increased and sustainable revenues from their existing customers. And not the new ones.

Studies suggest repeat customers spend on average two-thirds more with a business after 3 years of custom than they do in the first 6 months. 

Businesses also have a 70% chance of selling more products or services to existing customers, but only as much as 20% to new ones.

So, while it may feel like counter-intuitive thinking, and the wrong way around, it does mean that growing your customer base should start with improving the experience for the customers you already have. 

Plus, once you’re nurturing existing customers and giving them a fantastic experience, your customers will do all of the hard work for you by promoting and recommending your business to their friends, family or even strangers online on social media and review sites.

Why it’s important to keep your current customers happy

In simple terms, you need to keep your current customers happy so that they keep coming back.

Alongside return sales, there’s a long list of benefits in making sure the customers you already have stay satisfied: Almost half of an ecommerce store’s revenue comes from only 8% of its customers.

Despite this, evidence suggests most businesses aren’t focusing their efforts this way and are still falling into the trap of chasing new customers. Studies show companies can spend 6 times more on trying to get new customers than keeping the ones they already have happy. 

But when existing customers feel good about your business, you’ll see them come back for more and more and more. They can even be advocates for your business by introducing their peers, friends, family and colleagues too. 

How to build loyalty in your existing customer base

Gaining or improving loyalty from the customers you already have isn’t hard to do. But it does involve some strategic thinking and planning. Here are some suggestions of what you could do: 

Speak to them

It seems obvious. But if you’re not making enough noise about yourself, or being part of any conversations either online or offline, your customers will forget about you. And that’s because they’re being bombarded with offers, advertising, and well-thought-through marketing from all of your competitors, every day. And if someone’s making more noise to attract your customers, you’ll risk losing them. 

Make sure you’ve set up a regular email marketing campaign with updates, offers, and deals that can showcase how exciting it is to buy from you. 

Offer rewards and incentives

Your customer will feel good about coming back to you when you give them something in return. So, if you’re not doing it already, focus your online or offline communications on rewarding your customers. 

Examples of good rewards include: 

  1. Early-weekday discounts (when sales are usually slower)
  2. Subscriptions that offer reduced costs, like free delivery 
  3. Bring a friend for free or an introduce a friend discount
  4. 2 for 1 offers
  5. Loyalty points or schemes – collect 10 stamps and get 1 free coffee

Of course, these types of offers can extend to new customers as well. But before you think about doing that, make sure you’re doing this for on your current customers first. 

Update your marketing

Is your website doing what it’s supposed to do? Or did you get it up in a bit of a rush and never went back to check? 

To keep your customers warmed up, you need to produce regular content that’s exciting and enticing. So, blog posts, photos, articles, and social media updates will all go a long way to ensuring your brand has the chance to stand out in the places where your customers are spending most of their time. 

And for half of the world’s population, most of that time is spent on social media channels. 

Make them part of your community

Any effective marketing should start with understanding who your customers are. 

This way, you’ll find it easier to prioritise giving them excellent levels of customer service. Across every single aspect of your customer’s journey, they should feel welcomed, rewarded, and encouraged to feel like they’re part of your bigger family. 

One way to bring your customers closer is to encourage them to take ownership of your brand. How does this work? Well, think of those customers who love taking pictures of their food and posting them on Instagram. These customers are marketing gold for your business. And that’s because they’re using one of the best forms of User-Generated Content. 

Personalise your service

A lot of psychology goes into sales. And when it comes to writing copy for your website or sales promotions, even more so. But when you also include your customers’ name in your marketing, or suggest things they’re actually looking for, you also boost their loyalty to your brand. 

Take Domino’s pizza, for example. They delivered sales of over £1M from a single advertising campaign by putting personalisation at the centre. 

Make sure all your marketing is set up to address your customers with their name. And secondly, make sure they’re getting the offers and products that they really want to receive. 

Where to look for new customers

So, you’re doing everything you can to keep a smile on your customer’s faces. And maybe you’re starting to see results? If so, it’s at this point you can start opening the doors to new ones. But where should you be looking? 


In essence, you should look for customers in the places they’re spending most of their time. 

Social media use has skyrocketed in 2020. And while Facebook remains the world’s most popular site, with over 2.5 Billion users worldwide, there are many more out there gaining popularity. 

So, if you want to target customers through social media, consider running a paid online advertising campaign on your channel of choice. And if you start from a position of knowing who your customers are, you’ll find it easier to choose which channels you should advertise on. 

Running a Paid Social media campaign is a great way to attract new customers. But don’t overlook using Paid Search too. Google Ads can help you launch a Pay-Per-Click campaign that will advertise your business on Google based on the keywords your customers are searching with. So, if you run a steak restaurant in Northampton, for example, you’ll want to target customers who are searching for ‘Where can I find a steak restaurant in Northampton’. And when they do, your business will show up first.  

Once you’ve set up your campaigns you should also consider retargeting. This is a way you can try to get customers to come back to your site once they’ve left. 

Your Local Area

Sometimes, you needn’t look further than your local area. There are still some good-old-fashioned local customers who’ll want to stop by your storefront or get to see you advertised around their local area. 

Consider who your local customers are. And then think about how you could run seasonal promotions to attract them into your shop or store.  

Your promotions could run as printed ads in publications, or as poster advertising in local shops, local community spaces like libraries or community centres or you could even do a leaflet drop through peoples doors within your business’s catchment area. 

And don’t forget about your own shop window or storefront. Keeping it fresh with new offers and incentives will show your local community how much you care and boost their interest.

Why getting new customers starts with looking after your current ones?

The next time you decide to build your customer base, it’s best to avoid the temptation of focusing all your attention on how to get new customers. 

Most businesses who’ve grown their customer base started by building loyalty in the ones they already have. 

And when you do that, your customers will be more motivated to support the growth of your business. By returning to you again, introducing their friends to your business, and buying a wider selection of products from your offering, you’ll see financial benefits quicker than you would do from chasing after new customers.  

By placing the needs of your customers at the centre of your brand, you’ll find it easier and quicker to build long-term, reliable and sustainable profits that will grow your business for the future.