How do you make your customers feel wanted?

One of the things most of y’all (I don’t have a shop) don’t have is huge volume and multiple stores. You don’t have huge corporations with stores across the globe where each customer is just a (phone) number.

You have to build customer loyalty. Obviously food that the customer enjoys is a requirement. But how do you keep them coming back? Good food isn’t enough; great pricing isn’t enough either. You must have decent food at a decent price for what you’re serving (an upscale place has a higher “decent price” than a lower scale place), but there’s also the customer service side of things.

I frequently go to a Mexican restaurant. There are probably more Mexican restaurants in this area than anything else, so I have my pick. This particular place greets everyone with “hello Amigo” which doesn’t work in a pizza joint, but it immediately conveys friendliness. They also use the phrase “Hello my friend” but it also works better with a Mexican accent than with an Italian one. One of the things that I feel sets them apart is that they sound like they mean it. However, I can walk in an Olive Garden and no matter how friendly the hostess is or how big she smiles, I just don’t feel like he/she means it when I hear “Hi, welcome to Olive Garden”. Being attacked by “hi, welcome to CiCi’s” as soon as you hit the door doesn’t work either. It feels like I’m the latest contestant in the store’s game of “see who can welcome the customer first”.

I also feel more “wanted” at independant stores than corporate stores. I had a Chili’s I used to go to (we moved) where I felt “wanted”, but not normally in other stores. Of course in that store, it was the manager stopping by and saying hi and all that jazz, but it was more in how she did it. I can’t put my finger on it, but her method was just a little different.

Do you have any suggestions on how to make your customers feel appreciated when they come in to your store? You can control what happens inside your store, but deliveries are one of those places where you don’t have that level of control. Do you have any “methods” for making your delivery customers feel special?

i am in an area of about 80,000, and i know our regular customers before they hit the door or on caller id. i know what they order ( and somtimes have to remind them if they forget something for baby1) and they know me. i am not always there but someone is and knows them and can say a heart warming whats up or hello or what can i get for you this evening. i treat my staff well and they find people in the community knowing them as a step towards being a person in the community as well. there should be no standard hello, everyone is different and should be treated that way.

You’d be surprised how many people like the CiCI’s routine…when I was 1st there, it was/seemed a joke…Moe’s Southwest Grill does it also…

but after a while, you begin to say it like you mean it…kinda corny, but a good crew can get behind it, when they are well trained and are all pulling for the operation…

its a tough call - do you greet all the customers? If so, you can wear a name tag & introduce yourself and make a joke out of it, stating you’ll never remember their names, so hopefully they’ll remember yours…breaks the ice & they will remember you and perhaps start off the night right…

I always tell my people to use professionalism at all times, but to talk to customers as if they’re neighbors that decided to stop by to get something to eat. My crew’s really good at striking up conversations when they’re in the dining area checking up on customers. It goes a long way treating them like the family next door. After all, in my smallish towns, the customers really are neighbors.


We really try to personalise it.

Every customer is greeted with enthusiasm and politeness. They are asked, " good evening … may I take your order" - “are you ready to order or do you need more time” or “how may I help you”. They have to make the first contact by the salutation of good evening which puts the customer at ease straight away. The customer feels they have been immediately recognised - a good start.

When I’m on the front counter I go out of my way to speak with as many people as possible - anything from sport to the weather or whatever, but make them feel recognised.

One trick I use is to check their first name on the credit card and then address them that way. It is funny to watch the expression on their faces when someone addresses them for the first time by their first name. I make sure I remember it for next time.

Another thing that works well is to take their pick up order to where they are waiting, be it on the seats or in their car. We always joke about drive in service when we take it to their cars. Both of these work well for established customers who we recognise their order.

I walk the floor of the dine in area and check with people on how their pizza is and just quietly ask some innocent questions such as ahve they been to the movies (a couple doors down from us), sporting event etc. They tend to open up and I find it gives them something to talk about next time they come in.

All in all we just go about treating our customers the way we would want to be treated and make them feel that we really appreciate them coming to us.

I think this is the edge we indies have over the major chains.


One of my gr8 traits is my personality,which is a ‘ballbuster’ I pretty much joke around w/ every customer that comes in.And if they bring kids in I have penny candies behind counter in which I will 1st ask parents if it is ok to give them a treat.These kids LOVE coming to Goomba’s because that ‘man’ behind the counter always comes over and says hello and gives them some candy.When my regulars leave I say don’t call me I’ll call you.And dumb little gestures like that w/ them knowing I am just breaking stones as usual.I must say this is what works for me because many peeps always tell me how they love coming here because of good food and gr8 personalities.


They work well don’t they?

We have a jar on the counter with the round candy on a stick (cost us 4 cents each wholesale). We have a sign on the jar that says “free for the kids with parental approval - also for the parents with kids approval”.

The kids and parents love it and a lot of the kids come to me and ask if they can have one " 'cause dad said it’s OK".

At christmas we have candy canes that you hang on the tree, again costing about 4 - 5 cents each.

Little money spent with big PR returns.


Our greatest magic trick is to answer the phone using the person’s name. Caller ID is a splendid tool for that. It is especially fun when the ID comes up with some strange name, and we know who really is calling. We are small enough to remember people’s names, and ask for ones we don’t remember. With a POS, it could be even simpler. Saying things like, “And you’re still at 206 Calico Loop, right? I know you are the third house on the right, but would you please turn on the porch light since it’s dark out?” My wife has an absolutley disarming manner that is self-depricating, humble and enchanting.

Our regular regulars, we remember their orders. We even play a game in the back when things are slow, or we need to break the tension . . . name that customer. Describe the order, and the rest guess whose it is. We change it around as well to be call that order. It turns my value of customer service and recognition of customers into fun and play for the staff. Drivers play name that address by us calling the address and they name the customer, then cooks name the regular order or preferences.

We have taken polaroid pictures to hang in the shop. We named pizzas and dishes after some really faithful customers, we know the names of their children . . . note cards and lots of prictice help . . . While customers are waiting for pick-ups, we converse and learn about them. We speak to customers whenever we see them all over the county. Wife and I are active socially, community and in government agencies around the county, so we get lots of “personal referrals” from people to people that makes our job of being friendly and available all the easier.

My wife has a personal and community based project called the “family forest of Grantville”, which is basically gathering all the family trees in town that we can to create the community forrest of trees. We intend to have some sort of combined, visual and written record to add to the museum/geneaology archives.

Our driver cranks up the tips by doing things like taking in people’s newpapers, letting them know if their dog is loose, or knowing the children as well. we are going to go back to baking our own dog buscuits in the chape and look of little pizzas. He’ll have some on hand to offer to owners for their dogs. . . and we’ll sell them by the dozen or pound.

Having a giant 4 foot sign with my mug drawn in the middle of it doesn’t hurt me much. I have a certain level of perceived vulnerability and accessibilkity with the whole smiling face in the small town.

Basically, it’s a top down process for us. We treat our employees as we expect them to treat each other and our customers. We are effusive with praise, firm but gentle with corrections, and listen intently when they have something to say.

P.S. the years I spent in grad school earning my Master’s Degree in Psychology (counseling and adventure therapy focused), the years spent in the field learning and refining my skills at generating a personal connection in 2 minutes or less, and the time I spent my whole life learning about people, liking interacting with people, and being the middle child in a family have all helped me in making genuine relationships with customers.

It’s not something I “do” so much as who I am. Children and small animals are enthralled by me for some odd reason, and people often find my demeanor and look to be inviting. Sure, some are enraged at the sight of me, which makes life all the more interesting.

“Human Engineering” is the most important skill staff and owners learn…RCS…

Nick writes:

Sure, some are enraged at the sight of me, which makes life all the more interesting.

I don’t know Nick. Everytime I go to your website and see your pic I suddenly want to play some of my old Jerry Garcia songs.


yep! yep! know your regulars. doggie bones are great around here. remember when the kids or parents have been sick and ask how they are doing. I am in a rural area and grew up in a rural area so I do okay conversationally with farmers, which most of my customers are. We send coffee to the local fire dept. if they have a fire in the winter close enuff. and some bottles of water in the summer. A few cheapee local things goes a long way depending on your location. Only 1 year in the business but I SURVIVED the first year and have a lot of regulars and lots of newbees every day.

ACK! I forgot that when we have “stiffed” orders or orphaned food of some sort, we drop it by the Fire Station after we close. They are always surprised and pleased. The look on the faces of the new recruits when they see 40 wings donated to their happiness is just priceless! We have one person per firehouse per shift. They do get lonely.

There Nick goes…talking about hsi grad degree again. Really, it all has to do with the fact that he is from another planet. Animals and small children fall into a trance when he is around, grade schoolers thank they are “cool” because they know “Mr. Nick,” and even the adults sometimes get, well, a little creepy in their devotion (one guy even said he wants the Nick portrait in his dining room.)

Back to the subject at hand, though, one priceless trick is The Cheat Sheet. (and I am kinda wondering if I should reveal my secret…) I have a sticky board hidden out of sight from the customers and I post little notes like “Charlie James…glasses…talks like Uncle Fester” or whatever it takes to get me to recognize someone on their second visit, or a person that is not necessarily a ‘regular’ but they come in fairly often. I can sneak a peek at the board before the customer has even made eye contact. This is also where I note family relationships…“Kyle Smith…Carla Mason’s brother” or “Kyle and Janie Smith…kids are James and Joey.” Remembering the names of children (especially new babies) is a big hit. The funny thing is…in most cases, just writing it down makes it ‘stick’ in my memory and I don’t often have to refer to the Cheat Sheet at all! (But it DOES help on those 2 or 3 people for whom I somehow always forget their name or whom I often confuse with someone else!) It helps Nick get to know people, too, since he is often stuck in the back of the house and might not never even see “Kyle Smith” but can totally charm Carla by asking about her brother and his two cute kids if he happens to be working the counter when she comes in.

PS…I am serious about Nick being from another planet… his mere presence disrupts radio waves (and no real human being knows how to calculate Combinations and Permutations, with or without Excel, twenty years after graduation.)

Kim (aka Nick’s Wife)

And he had the hide to ask me what coloured pills I took before writing my menus … ??? :roll:

And you never answered. I ned to know which ones to get :slight_smile:

Besides what everybody else talked about another way to really get to know your customers is through SPORTS! It doesn’t hurt to to have ESPN on every one of our TV’s in the shop either. I will pick up on any piece of clothing with a sports team and there you go…a personal connection…lucky for me I am a die hard Eagles fan surrounded by Giant fans and it is easy to dish out the dirt…I even have an Eagles pizza cutter that sings their fight song when you use it! We operate numerous pools (not illegal!) throughout the year and other fantasy leagues with our customers as well.

Mate, after how Kim described you I don’t think the pills would make any difference.

(But if you really want to know … blue M&M’s)


We are a delco. It’s a rule that if you are standing anywhere between the oven and the front door, you must greet anyone that comes in. The way that I explained it to my people is that I want them to greet the customer as though we have been waiting for them to walk into our place all day.

I usually remind the staff that there are 34 other pizza places in our delivery area… and this customer that just walked in chose us. So we need to give them the greeting they deserve.

We make our customers feel wanted by doing callbacks to get opinions and ensure everything was great and we tell them in a sincere voice just how much we appreciate their business. Nothing worse than someone being nice to you in a emotionless, robotic sounding voice.

That’s odd, I get lots of places in my email trying to sell me pills. I wonder if that should tell me something. :slight_smile: