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Cafes & Restaurants

How to Attract Repeat Customers at Your Cafe

Written by 
Chloe Komesarook
August 17, 2023
Loyalty Programs
Small Business

Let's be real – running a successful café is no piece of cake. Sure, whipping up the perfect latte or serving mouthwatering pastries helps reel customers in, but there's more to the mix if you want them coming back for seconds (or thirds!).

If you’re running a cafe and wondering how to attract repeat cafe customers, you’ve come to the right place.

First of all, let’s quickly touch on why retaining cafe customers is so important.

Establishing a solid base of loyal cafe customers is essential for boosting your bottom line, enhancing reputation and thriving in today’s competitive landscape. Loyal cafe customers become advocates, amplifying positive word-of-mouth marketing. 

Furthermore, having a steady stream of regulars creates a sense of community and familiarity that makes your café a special place. But here's the golden question: how do you make sure there's a constant parade of coffee enthusiasts, daily commuters, and local pals making a beeline for your cafe.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some cafe customer retention strategies proven to attract and retain repeat customers, fostering a thriving café business.

1. Focus on Stellar Customer Service

A woman hands someone a coffee.
Image source: Canva

Creating memorable customer experiences and delivering exceptional, consistent customer service is an integral part in any successful business, and cafes are no exception. To win more repeat customers, your cafe needs to focus on creating a high quality and reliable level of customer service.

As a cafe seeking to attract repeat customers, this means going above and beyond to ensure that your customers are satisfied and feeling valued. 

Small touches like offering a free pastry or sample of a new menu item can leave a lasting impression. 

A great example of this could be offering a sample of your banana bread or blueberry muffins on a Monday morning, to spark some joy in the mundanity of a commuter’s day. 

Or, writing an inspirational message on your blackboards in the morning can inspire anyone to get a cup of coffee and face their day. 

Small touches like these boost your customer satisfaction in subtle ways, which over time will boost retention and keep your cafe front-of-mind. 

2. Hire Passionate Baristas and Staff to Make Your Customers Happy 

Hiring passionate baristas and staff who can engage with customers is essential to any cafe customer retention strategy, as well as creating a welcoming atmosphere – so it really does pay off to employ the right people who’ll be ambassadors for your cafe. 

Emphasize the importance of remembering your regular customers’ names to your staff, as this is one way to make people feel special and keep them coming back for that great service. After all, there’s no greater sound to hear than your own name. 

Challenge your staff to remember customers’ specific orders, and even what they might like to try based on that. 

Even something like writing a smiley face on their coffee cup can bring a smile to a customer’s face and make their day a little brighter; which for you, can translate to motivated staff and loyal cafe customers. 

‍Also, if you have a loyalty program, ensure that your staff are trained on how it works (as staff advocacy is the best way to get customers on the program). If you don’t yet have a loyalty program, this leads us to our next point…

3. Introduce a Cafe Loyalty Program

A woman smiles at a customer.
Image source: Canva

Considering that  acquiring a new customer costs around five times more than retaining an existing customer, it’s safe to say that focusing on building customer loyalty literally pays off! 

Studies have found that increasing customer retention by as little as 5% can increase business profitability by as much as 90%. So, when it comes to keeping your customers engaged and ensuring that your cafe is front-of-mind for any occasion at any time, a customer cafe loyalty program can go a long way.

A coloured text box with a quote.

A punch card loyalty program is a straightforward and highly effective way for cafes to encourage repeat business. This is due to the concept being incredibly easy for customers to understand and simple for cafes to operate. 

Except for those living under a rock, everyone is familiar with the punch card concept, regardless of age or technological familiarity. It's a universal loyalty approach. 

Traditionally, customers collect stamps or punches on a physical card for each purchase or visit. Once they collect a certain number of stamps, they earn a reward.

However, there are now loyalty apps like Stamp Me that allow businesses to combine the familiarity of the traditional punch card system with the convenience and benefits of digital technology.

Benefits of using a Punch Card App for Cafe Loyalty Programs: 

  • Convenience: Customers don't need to carry a physical card. They can simply use their smartphones to track their progress and earn rewards.
  • Always Accessible: Customers are less likely to forget or lose a digital punch card since it's stored on their phones. This keeps them engaged in the loyalty program and your cafe.
  • Real-Time Tracking: Both customers and cafe staff can track progress in real-time. This transparency creates a sense of trust and prevents disputes over punch counts.
  • Notifications: Apps like Stamp Me can send notifications to promote special offers, or to automatically reengage them when they haven’t stamped in a while, which prompts repeat visits. 
  • Data Insights: Digital systems provide cafes with data on customer information and behavior. 
  • Gamification: Digital punch card apps can incorporate gamified elements to make earning rewards more engaging. For example, with Stamp Me, you can run scratch & win campaigns.
  • Cost Efficiency & Easy Maintenance: While there’s an initial cost, digital punch card apps can save money in the long term by eliminating physical cards and administrative tasks. Moreover, adjusting rewards, tracking progress, and modifying the program parameters can be managed effectorlessly within the app’s interface. 
  • Wider Reach & Sustainability: Punch card apps appeal to tech-savvy customers, especially millennials and younger generations familiar with digital interactions. Simultaneously, they contribute to sustainability efforts by reducing paper waste. 
  • Integration: These apps can be integrated with other marketing and loyalty initiatives (like email platforms), enhancing the overall customer engagement strategy.

Cafe Loyalty Program Case Study:

Photo frames with the Ottimo Cafe stamp card using the Stamp Me app

See how Ottimo Coffee has been using Stamp Me to reward their customers and encourage retention. 

4. Engage on Social Media

A graphic depiction with phone and comment emojis.

Connecting through social media is essential for any business – this is a cafe customer retention strategy that you shouldn’t overlook. Showcasing delectable pastries, artful lattes or cozy interiors is a great way to attract new customers and engage with your current ones. 

Platforms like Instagram are ideal for cafe content, as you can promote your business with hashtags, emojis, and catchy captions to perk people’s attention. 

By establishing your presence on social media, cafe businesses can directly interact with customers and provide updates and send subtle reminders to book a table for Sunday brunch or to try your new seasonal latte. Social media is also a powerful way for customers to connect directly with businesses, without needing to send an email or pick up the phone. 

In addition to providing subtle cafe reminders and more accessibility to staff, social media also provides a unique opportunity for cafes to build a sense of community which can help to attract repeat cafe customers.

5. Keep Operating Hours Consistent

An 'open' sign on a window.
Image source: Canva

Nothing frustrates a customer more than finding your cafe closed when your online hours indicate otherwise. If your cafe is interested in building a repeat, loyal customer base, then you need to be consistent with your trading hours and ensure that any changes are well documented ahead of time on your website and on your Google business listing. 

In fact, studies indicate  that more than 76% of customers will check online before visiting a physical location, so it’s essential to keep your business’ contact details up to date. 

6. Offer Reservation and Event Options

Balancing work, family, and social life means many cherish their cafe time. It can be a time to catch up with friends, or wind down alone with a nice cup of coffee and a good book. That’s why it’s so important for cafes to offer reservation options. 

Make it easy for people to reserve a table or skip the line, to assist in making their cafe time strictly a good time. 

As well as this, introducing themed days, such as for national holidays or national days, in order to give customers a unique experience. These will create a point of difference for your cafe and attract repeat, happy customers to your cafe. 

All in all, if customers feel it’s easy to plan their visits and they have exciting reasons to do so, they’ll visit more often.

7. Collaborate with Local Businesses 

It's a no-brainer: partnering with local businesses is a win-win for cafe businesses! Not only does it help to support the community and foster a sense of camaraderie, but it also has the potential to bring in a whole new pool of customers.

Imagine partnering with a local bakery and offering a free croissant with every five cups of coffee they purchase. Or team up with a local bookstore and offer a discount on a cup of coffee for every book purchase. 

The possibilities are endless, and the benefits are clear: more repeat customers and a stronger connection to the community. So don't be afraid to reach out to those local businesses and see what kind of partnerships they are open to - it's sure to be a success. 

8. Encourage and Act on Feedback 

When it comes to getting feedback in the form of online reviews or even face-to-face, things can go one of two ways: business owners can get offended and annoyed, or they can take the time to understand the root of the feedback to make changes and improvements to strengthen business in the long term.

By encouraging feedback from your customers, you’re showing that you value their opinions, making them feel seen and heard. This is an important way to attract repeat cafe customers, as 77% of consumers view businesses more favorably if they seek out and apply customer feedback

You can encourage customer feedback on a range of topics, such as your cafe loyalty program, menu items, customer service, or just general information about how they are liking your cafe. 

In fact, a loyalty program is a great way to gain feedback from your customers, as you can incentivize them with rewards for responding to your surveys or leaving a review.

9. Diversify Your Menu

Types of coffee on a menu list.
Image source: Unsplash

We all love our signature coffee drinks and breakfast order, but it’s also important for your cafe to introduce new menu items in order to set yourselves apart from the competition. This is a great cafe customer retention strategy, as it also allows you to get creative with your business. 

If you want to win more repeat customers, consider introducing seasonal specials, drawing inspiration from global coffee and tea traditions (like chai and matcha), and healthier options like salads or smoothies to draw in that fitness enthusiast on their way back from a morning run. Enhancing the customer journey with suggested food and drink pairings can amplify sales and satisfaction as well. 

Broadening your menu also shows your customers that you’re keeping up with trends and taking an active interest in what items would appeal and attract repeat cafe customers. 

With a diverse menu and specials rotation, your cafe can appeal to a wider range of customers and radically increase your bottom line, attracting repeat cafe customers in the process. 


In conclusion, attracting repeat cafe customers is possible through a number of key elements. By prioritizing exceptional service, fostering community ties, and continuously innovating your offerings, you’ll ensure your cafe is everyone’s go-to. After all, success lies in consistent effort, creativity, and genuine connection. 

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