IB Thrive Reconnecting with F&B Customers


Hi! My name is Amber Staynings, and I have been working in the hospitality sector for the past 20 years, gaining experience in various establishments such as pubs, spas, restaurants, and hotels. Seven years ago, I took the leap and started my own limited company, which has grown significantly. Three years ago, we created Bums on Seats, a strategic sales and marketing agency where I am the sole business owner. Currently, we have 27 employees, and despite the challenges brought by the pandemic, we have grown rapidly.

In our agency, we focus on three main aspects: identifying opportunities for sales growth, implementing strategies to achieve that growth, and delivering the plans to our clients. We work with a wide range of businesses, from large corporations like Green King and BrewDog to small independent groups. Sales are often perceived as a daunting task, but I believe it’s all about building relationships and connecting with customers, which is vital for any industry.

As the pandemic presented many challenges, we had to adapt and re-strategize our business multiple times to build resilience and tackle the obstacles. During the workshop, I will discuss these challenges and help participants find solutions to overcome them.

Overcoming Challenges in the Hospitality Industry

It’s a challenging time, with the hospitality industry facing no-shows, reduced footfall, increased rates, remote work culture, and recruitment issues. Understanding these challenges is essential in finding ways to adapt and thrive in this ever-changing landscape. By embracing flexibility, fun, and emotional connections, businesses can find success even in challenging times.

The Power of Emotional Connections with Customers

I cannot stress enough the importance of engagement and rapport with customers. The way we make them feel and connect with them is crucial in building trust and loyalty. I encourage businesses to embrace a playful and enthusiastic approach, creating memorable experiences for customers, and responding promptly to their needs. This helps you to keep your customer response time (CRT) down, which is vital for shaping a customer’s perception of the business. Product knowledge and closing skills are essential but secondary to the emotional connection with customers. 86% of decision-making is based on emotions, so connecting emotionally with customers is vital for sales success and building customer loyalty. We’re not just in the business of providing products or services; we are responsible for creating positive emotions and memories for our customers. 

Building Resilience and Customer Centricity

It’s a tough time at the moment, and businesses need to build resilience. This involves innovation, agility and adaptability, but crucially, it should focus on customer centricity. Retaining existing customers is cost-effective and drives loyalty and repeat visits. And the way you do this is by monitoring online presence and feedback. This is essential in today’s digital age. Keep an eye on your reviews, make sure you’re replying to comments – you want people to know that you’re approachable, alert and responsive.

Understanding and Adapting to Different Generations

Understanding your audience and adapting communication strategies can make a big difference for small businesses. For example, Gen Z has a short attention span, making them the most challenging generation to retain as staff and customers. Millennials are widely talked about and value experiences over everything. They are a diverse and difficult generation to market to, as they’re also often influenced by their peers. Baby boomers, on the other hand, are loyal and enjoy planning in advance. They are currently the largest generation and can be valuable for businesses. Again, it’s all about relationships and rapport, and creating a smooth guest experience for a lasting positive impression. Retaining customers is much cheaper than acquiring new ones, and research shows that it takes around five visits to convert a customer into a loyal one. So it’s important that every visit is stellar! 

Four Key Principles for Creating Lasting Impressions

To create the best lasting impression, I focus on four key principles: Choose the right attitude, be emotionally present, play, and make their day. Remember that direct engagement with customers fosters a deeper connection and personalized service. People prefer doing business with individuals they know and trust, so strive to offer a personal touch to customer interactions.

Local Community Sales and Reducing No-Shows

For local community sales, I believe independent businesses like mine have an advantage in becoming a real part of the community. I focus on a 15 to 20-minute radius around my location and get to know the businesses and potential customers in the area. I prioritize understanding their needs and wants and adapt my approach based on the type of business or customer I’m engaging with. To reduce no-shows, I build stronger relationships with customers to create loyalty and commitment. If necessary, I ask for card authentication and payment up front, especially during busy times. SMS text messaging has also proven really effective in minimizing no-shows. And planning ahead is essential for success! Think about upcoming events or occasions that could impact your business, such as the World Cup and Christmas. By planning early, you can manage potential challenges effectively.

Prioritizing Team Training and Social Media Engagement

Lastly, it’s really important to prioritize your team and ensure they are well-trained and empowered to deliver a positive customer experience. Social media, especially Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram, plays a crucial role in reaching and engaging with customers.

And that’s it! I hope that wi ll help you leave a lasting positive impression on customers, drive repeat business and attract new clients.