When you open any franchise based on a proven model of success, you already have a leg up on the competition.
However, as with any small business, your success hinges upon your ability to engage the community in a meaningful way. The best kind of customers are repeat customers.
Before you assume you need to spend a small fortune on consultants or brand ambassadors to increase foot traffic or raise brand awareness, there are several more cost-effective options.
Local ice cream shops that have been in business for decades are only there because they are constantly finding new customers and keeping their current customers and fans happy.
Follow these simple tips and strategies to help build a loyal consumer base and cement your status as the go-to gelato shop in your hometown:
Simple Strategies to Strengthen Customer Loyalty
As a new franchise owner, you understand the importance of customer loyalty and are ready and excited to reap the benefits of finding and keeping loyal clients.
Aren’t sure how to get started and are worried about standing out from the other cool ice cream shops in your area?
In addition to having a solid flavor base and multiple dessert offerings, both of which will keep consumers intrigued, follow these simple tips to engage your audience without breaking your marketing budget:
Get To Know Your Audience with Customer Feedback
Several businesses completely change their business model, marketing strategies, and employee training models based on feedback.
Gaining feedback for your ice-cream shop could be as simple as asking customers if they like a new flavor or about an interaction with an employee.
Creating a formal feedback survey is a great idea, as this will help you understand the overall satisfaction of your current customer base and help you make changes that will entice future customers.
Focus on Customer Satisfaction Rather than Sales or Profits
To own a successful franchise, you need to have a desire and passion for gelato and a commitment to quality.
When you value your product and are consistently providing your customers with stellar satisfaction, positive word of mouth will naturally draw in future customers!
Just remember, your job is to ensure that the customer has a fantastic experience, and when you provide them with a consistently excellent product, sales and profits will naturally grow!
Create a Rewards Program
Companies have been reaping the benefits of a reward program for years!
Here is a simple step-by-step guide to help you build your own program:
- Name the rewards program
- Determine your target audience
- Decide on the types of rewards and incentives you want to offer – From free products to discounts
- Create a point or reward system
The reward system doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive; sometimes, a simple punch card is enough to entice customers back into the store!
The Power of Social Media, Brand Loyalty, and Word of Mouth Marketing
Ice cream shops have been using social media for years to promote products and increase their base.
Major social media sites, from Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, continue to be powerful tools, but what if you aren’t an established company with a loyal fan base?
Use social media as a way to not only attract customers but also as a powerful customer service tool.
Chat with customers online and gather information about how to improve their next experience in your shop.
Be wary of social media use and avoid these common mistakes:
- Over-posting: Limit your social media posts to two to three per week and use them to promote your business or highlight new products and flavors.
- Not responding to complaints: Check your social media posts and direct messaging often and respond to complaints or concerns ASAP.
- Be careful of trends: Trends come and go, so instead, rely on your consistent product and fantastic service!
4 Ways to Grow Your Business and Engage Your Community
Engagement can make or break a new small business; getting your name out, finding new customers, and creating a loyal fan base is crucial.
But where do you start, and how do you join your community in a meaningful way while keeping costs down?
You don’t need to hire an independent board of consultants to have a positive impact on your brand.
Instead, use these simple ideas to grow your ice cream business while becoming a prominent member of your business community:
Engage Existing Customers and Increase Foot Traffic with Cause Related Marketing
Are you passionate about a cause, from animal rights or same-sex marriage to your child’s school or the safety of your neighborhood?
Use your social media presence and brand as a way to not only captivate customers but also bring awareness and show your commitment to social responsibility.
Unique businesses and ice cream shops are owned by wonderful people who can raise awareness and funds for a worthy cause.
Encourage Ice Cream Shop and Gelato Shop Employees to Treat Customers Like Friends and Family
Your employees are a powerful tool for not only increasing profits and raising brand awareness but also building a positive rapport with both new and existing customers.
Incentivize your employees to treat customers more like friends and family than patrons.
Invest in training, model patience, and make customer service their job and yours.
Start a Monthly Newsletter!
If you look forward to your family’s yearly newsletter, imagine how your customers will feel when they receive a fun digital or physical newsletter from their favorite nearby ice cream shops!
Include teasers of upcoming flavors, highlight a customer of the month, and share stories about your employees and family!
Attract Customers and Reward Regulars With Regularly Scheduled Events
You have a great product; now you just need to get the word out to every person in your area!
Schedule weekly or monthly events for regulars and use the promise of unique gelato flavors and family-friendly fun to draw in people of all ages!
For example, schedule a gelato eating contest, guess the flavor, or host a handcrafted vs. store-bought taste test.
We guarantee your loyal customers will pick your ice cream shop flavors over the store-bought offerings of Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen, the founders of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream, every time!
Simple Event Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank!
Your event can attract new people to your gelateria without draining your marketing budget.
Here are a few great ideas to bring in new buyers without spending a small fortune:
- Organize a donation drive for your local food bank or school.
- Recruit other stores on your block to host a small fair.
- Host a movie night or block party.
- Organize a social media event.
Make a Connection and Grow Your Online Community
You don’t need to spend a small fortune to become an active member of your neighborhood!
Instead, use your online presence to find new customers!
Think beyond social media and instead start a podcast or YouTube channel, build a website, and work in conjunction with other local businesses to offer online promotions.
Use specific keywords and phrases to drive search traffic to your website – The goal is that when people search “gelato near me,” your shop is at the top of the search page!
Imagine how much your customers will love getting a discount on their nearest ice cream shop when they buy a set of four new tires?!
Our Customers Also Ask
How do you build a community of loyal customers?
There are several excellent ways you can keep your loyal customers happy and coming back for more, including:
- Get to know your customers.
- Create a loyalty program.
- Offer a consistently outstanding product.
- Continue focusing on providing a variety of wonderful services.
- Encourage customers to give you feedback.
- Start a social media group.
How will you build a loyal customer base with your product service?
Your ice cream shop or gelateria has the most extensive selection of flavors, consistent quality, and fantastic customer service.
The best way to keep people coming back for more is to focus on providing a consistently superb product.
Start with the freshest, best ingredients and continue to surprise everyone with your new and inventive flavors.
Remember, gelato isn’t only popular in the United States; it is famous worldwide for several excellent reasons.
Gelato has been enjoyed for centuries, and you should provide both classic and inventive flavors – from vanilla and chocolate to avocado and cotton candy!
How beneficial is it for a business to build a loyal customer base?
Having a customer who consistently wants to patronize your business is paramount to its success.
If this is your first small business or you have never owned a product-based business where profits depend upon satisfaction, starting with a strong mission statement is essential.
A three-part mission statement is an easy place to start:
- Purpose: What is the overall purpose of your small business?
- Vision: Where do you see yourself in five years or ten years?
- Values: What are your core values, and how do you want to express these values through your ice cream shop?
Once you understand how you want your company to operate, you will attract a consumer base who will always come back to you instead of the other guy!
What is the power of loyal customers?
When someone enjoys gelato for the first time and searches for “closest ice cream shop,” you want your store to be at the top of the list!
Having people who consistently come to your gelato shop not only helps maintain your bottom line but also lets you determine what you are doing right and ways you can improve your services.
For example, you can try out a new flavor, and loyal buyers will give you honest feedback. Those same buyers will also provide fantastic word-of-mouth advertising, attracting even more people to your gelateria!