As a group, millennials vary in age from early twenties to late-thirties. Good news for you: as a group, they love dining out, and they appreciate new food and beverage experiences. They were raised in an age saturated with technology, so it’s natural for them to expect a certain level of technology to be available in the stores and restaurants that they frequent. And while millennial business owners may naturally integrate this technology into their restaurants, it may take stepping back and examining your business to discover the best ways to attract and keep these new customers.
Show off your digital side.
You’re probably already connected to social sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter (or should be). Make sure customers know you have a presence on social media by posting window clings near your door and links to your social sites on your menu and website. Menu items that are popular on social media should be featured on your digital menu board and on table tents, inspiring millennials to share their own food photos. On social media, regularly interact with customers and encourage calls-to-action via all platforms. Finally, consider creating social-media-worthy experiences that guests will want to share on social. This may be a particularly eye-popping drink or an over-the-top presentation of your signature dish.
Educate your staff.
Nothing is more frustrating to a millennial than a server that doesn’t know the menu or keeps going back to the kitchen to ask questions. Millennials like to do their research, often knowing everything about a place before they come in for a visit. Don’t let them stump your staff with questions about the menu. Hold weekly meetings about your offerings and daily updates so staff can entice customers with talk of noteworthy ingredients, food origins, new dishes, and exciting specials.
Offer open Wi-Fi.
The days of password protecting your Wi-Fi account or changing the login every day are over. Instead of searching you out to ask for login information, a millennial will simply take their business elsewhere. Millennials are not the only ones who want access to Wi-Fi when they come into your restaurant; this is a requirement for all customers.
Go digital with your loyalty program and coupons.
While it may not be cool to carry coupons (and also viewed as a waste of paper), even millennials want to save a buck or two on their lunch. Providing digital coupons through email or via an app, as well as location-based social media “check-in” specials allows customers to show up and save money with a quick tap or scan of their phone. Nix the plastic keychain loyalty cards, too. Millennials want everything to be accessible on their mobile. Bonus for you, you’re collecting vital data to use in future marketing every time they redeem an offer. And look for a loyalty/rewards platform that lets you send coupons and offers coded uniquely for an individual customer. That way, you can avoid potential fraud, track redemption, target your incentives to specific customers or groups (to entice customers to return, or come in during a time they typically don’t), and avoid giving a discount to people who would have come in anyway.
Make payments easier.
After you have everything working smoothly with your Wi-Fi, digital loyalty program, and social cues, don’t drop the ball when it comes to processing payments. The faster and easier you can make the payment transaction, the happier your millennial customer will be. Provide all payment options, especially the ability to pay via mobile.
Attracting and keeping millennial customers doesn’t have to equal huge changes for your restaurant. Realizing that a certain level of technology is a requirement for all ventures to survive is just good business.