Tea rooms are a longstanding British tradition that bring people together to relax and chat over an afternoon pot of tea.
That doesn’t make it easy to find customers, though! A lot of tea room owners have a solid base of local fans, but don’t necessarily reach out of their comfort zone to expand their loyal following.
These eight easy methods for creating loyal customers can build on your tea room’s unique strengths while creating new avenues to find more customers. Start implementing these ideas today, and watch your business expand:
1. Delight Long-Term Customers
Long-term customers are the bread and butter of your tea room. They fill up seats every day and bring their friends, too. To sustain a group of loyal customers, delight them at every turn.
Ask servers to take note of their favorite dishes, and make sure to pop over to their table and say hello. Send out an item or two on the house when loyal customers come to visit. Chances are their guests will be delighted, which will lead to more referrals.
2. Dive Into Social Media
Social media creates loyalty by building emotional connection with customers. These networks give customers insight into your kitchen and a behind-the-scenes look at what makes your spot a lovely place for a pot of tea. Instagram and Facebook, in particular, compliment tea rooms through visual. They’re also a great way to connect to visitors to your area who want to visit a tea room as a cultural destination.
The tea company Fortnums & Mason is an excellent example. Their expert use of hashtags on Instagram helps the tea room to promote their menu, products, and special events. When a potential customer searches “#AfternoonTea” on Instagram, they’re likely to stumble upon one of Fortnums & Mason’s lovely photographs, which increases brand recognition.
3. Offer a Package Discount
Successful tea rooms create package deals that include a variety of items. For example, afternoon tea usually includes a choice of sandwiches, scones and pastries, as well as tea. When you sell the dishes together rather than à la carte, you can add a significant discount.
For example, Cream Tea at Michelin-star restaurant Sketch is only £10. This kind of deal opens high-caliber tea program to guests who would normally not visit the restaurant because of high prices. As you develop your tea menu, compare pricing to competitors to make sure you offer enough of a discount to entice new customers.
4. Encourage Customer Reviews
Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google Business Listings all give potential customers insight into the unique atmosphere and offerings of your tea room. The first step is to set up profiles on each site. Next, ask your most loyal patrons to add reviews. The positive feedback from these visitors helps boost your ranking in the rating systems, which makes it easier for people to find you.
5. Accommodate Dietary Restrictions
Have you ever tried to find a restaurant for dinner with a gluten-free friend? It’s a challenge, right? Developing specialty menus that cater to dietary restrictions can broaden your customer base and increase loyalty. Through a small change, you can make your tea room the go-to hangout for friends with dietary preferences.
108 Pantry in London offers a separate gluten-free option for their high tea. They also created a dairy-free option that’s available on request. As these health trends become more popular and more people identify dietary intolerances, tea rooms benefit from adapting to customers’ needs. If you don’t want to create a separate menu, look into adding a couple of items to your menu that use alternative ingredients such as non-wheat flours and butter alternatives.
6. Use Local Ingredients
The local food movement has been gaining ground in the UK for some time. To differentiate yourself from other tea rooms, source your ingredients locally. That way, when customers come for tea, they know that they’re supporting beloved local businesses and farms in addition to your shop.
Pump Street Bakery in Suffolk does a wonderful job incorporating local ingredients into their kitchen. They make their own chocolate in Orford and even use local grains from millers in the county. Pump Street also lists and describes their suppliers on their website, making their local sourcing a clear aspect of their brand.
7. Share Your Recipes and Offer Courses
There’s no better way to build a community of loyal customers than to bring them into your kitchen. Consider reaching out to prominent food blogs about featuring your recipes, and make it your mission to get some local press in publications. The holidays are a perfect time to contribute recipes to a newspaper’s food section; it can help get you extra customers during the December rush!
Also think about a way to offer classes that feature your chefs, bakers, and tea experts. Courses can provide extra income for the business and keep the tea room busy during otherwise slow evenings. Betty’s of Harrogate is the perfect example of how a tea room has solidified their reputation by offering courses. Their cookery school offers almost daily courses for novice and experienced bakers alike.
8. Create a Holiday Menu
During the holidays, people look for venues for work events, family celebrations, and gatherings with friends. Tea rooms can take advantage of this busy time by hosting private events. Reach out to your network or customer list and let them know you are taking reservations for private events. If you work with your pastry chef to develop a special menu that captures the joy of the season, you’re bound to see an increase in customers at the end of the year.
These eight ways to create loyal customers can fill the seats at your tea room, boost sales, and strengthen brand awareness. As a business owner, do you have any tried-and-true suggestions to add to this list?
As a business owner, do you have any tried-and-true suggestions to add to this list?