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The lure of the familiar

There are 6,190 full service restaurants in Chicago, so why do my wife and I frequent the same ones over and over?

Familiarity perhaps?

In my wife’s case, it means taking the safe bet rather than risking one of the rare times we go out on a complete unknown.

We don’t go out to dinner that frequently.  At most, we go out once every two weeks to a real restaurant.  It’s not a big part of our social scene.

I’ve traveled extensively for years and have had my fill of eating in restaurants of all shapes and sizes.

But my wife hasn’t traveled the way I have, and when she gets me to take her out, she doesn’t want to waste a dinner on an unknown.

So we either eat at a place where we’ve been before and had a good experience, or we’ll occasionally try a new place based on a recommendation.

I’ve been lucky in convincing her to try new places occasionally, and I’ll check review sites.

One special find is a little barbeque joint called Smoque.  We went there for my birthday after I searched for a highly recommended rib restaurant.  Their ribs are fantastic.  We’ve been back a few times, and they never disappoint.

Other times we’ll go with another couple and they’ll choose the venue.  If it’s good, it gets into our short list for potentially many, many return visits.

My point is that we are creatures of habit, and getting us in to a restaurant, or any other business is a good chance of many repeat transactions.

In your business, think about how you can get your current customers to bring their friends and family in.  If you make personal referrals a core strategy, you’ll find that it brings in the highest quality, most loyal customers.

Perhaps you can reward customers for bringing in additional guests.  It will happen a little by itself if you’re going a good job, but unless you make it a systematic part of your business, you’ll miss out on a major opportunity.

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