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In food service, one of the categories to watch in recent years has been the fast casual chain. In fact, it’s actually been called the biggest food trend of the past decade by The Washington Post. As fast casual brands capture a growing share of the restaurant market, there’s a different kind of battle for customer loyalty taking place. The key to success for many fast casual chains as the Post points out has been the ability to put the diner in charge, with quality, customization and customer experience, all built into the business model.

The magic number in customer loyalty: 4 visits

Fast Casual declares four visits to be the “magic number” for sustained customer loyalty in this fast-growing segment. Attracting new customers is, of course, a key area of focus for chains establishing a foothold, but industry stats also reveal the following:

  • After the first customer visit, there’s a 50-50 chance they’ll return
  • Once a customer has visited twice, there’s a 70% chance of return
  • After a fourth visit, the repeat visit percentage jumps to 85%

The key driver in customer loyalty: your frontline staff

How can fast casual brands elevate customer experience during these critical first-to-fourth visit interactions? At Nudge, we believe strongly in empowering associates to bring the brand experience to life and driving customer loyalty. As fast casual offerings become more diversified and consumer expectations increasingly favor convenience, speed, and experience, the frontline associates are a key driver of these factors and will help determine whether or not first time customers will return for a second visit, let alone fourth.

Frontline staff who are engaged and inspired to deliver on the experience today’s “fast casual foodies” are seeking can be a strong differentiator in a highly competitive category. The foodservice brands who lead the pack understand the value of reaching and effectively communicating with their associates, empowering them to keep pace with evolving menu offerings, limited time offers, and drivers of consistent customer experience.