Empty restaurant

New faces in your restaurant means you’re attracting new customers and demonstrates that your marketing efforts are clearly having a positive effect. But what about the old faces? Where did they all go? Was it something you said?

“Why aren’t people returning to my restaurant?” you ask yourself on a daily basis.

Guaranteeing return business in the restaurant trade is vital. According to a recent report, restaurateurs can expect to increase profits by up to 125% if repeat visits are notched up by just 5%.

Imagine that – a huge return for a minimal increase in covers, thus leaving plenty of tables available for those new faces.

In this post, we’re going to consider 6 reasons your guests aren’t returning to your restaurant. It won’t make easy reading but a dose of harsh reality is something every business needs occasionally in order to grow.

So, pop a brave bill and read on…

1. Poor food quality

The number one requirement for most of your guests will be quality food. If they don’t like your menu or experience cold or bland food, they won’t return.

2. Bad service

We don’t need to tell you how competitive the restaurant sector is, but guests aren’t particularly stuck for choice when it comes to dining out. One bad service experience will mean you’ll probably lose them for life. And why should they come back if they can sample the other venue next door?

Disinterested waiting staff, long wait times and poor complaint handling are just some of the bad service traits that will harm your reputation. Deliver excellent customer service, always.

3. Poor atmosphere

Eating out isn’t just about the food. People want an experience and if your restaurant is lacking in atmosphere, they probably won’t return.

Music, interesting, vibrant decor and a happy waiting team will ensure your guests return in future. If they experience an evening akin to waiting for an appointment at the doctor’s surgery, they may as well stay at home for dinner.

4. Uncleanliness

A dirty restaurant won’t tempt guests to return. And, while this might sound a little ‘restaurant 101’, uncleanliness can fester right under your nose. Dig deeper and ensure the place is absolutely spotless.

5. Poor word of mouth

The much-touted phrase ’the customer is king’ has never been more relevant; we live in a world driven by consumer feedback, reviews and word of mouth recommendations, and if you’re not providing a decent or memorable dining experience, word will travel fast.

Dissatisfied customers talk, and they’re bigger chatterboxes than happy customers. Keep an eye on mentions of your business on review websites and social media and address any concerns raised.

6. No incentive

In truth, you could absolutely nail every one of the areas above but still suffer from a lack of return guests. And why should they return to your restaurant? What incentive are you giving them to do so?

Consider implementing a loyalty program to which diners can sign up and benefit from during their next visit. A percentage discount, free bottle of wine or some other enticing perk will absolutely get them booking again.


Repeat restaurant visitors don’t just boost your bottom line – they become your sales team and an extension of your marketing efforts. Follow our tips above and you’ll create a raft of brand ambassadors for your business.

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