What Is a Restaurant CRM and How Can It Help Boost Profits?

a photo of Bianca Esmond

Bianca Esmond

5 min read

Apr 14, 2023

What Is a Restaurant CRM and How Can It Help Boost Profits?

For many restaurants, nearly 70% of diners are one-and-done. They come, they dine, they don’t return. Relying on such a small piece of the pie for profits puts a lot of pressure on restaurant industry operators to perform perfectly at every touchpoint.

But there’s a silver lining here. Armed with a strong marketing strategy and the right tech tools, restaurant operators can work to flip that equation on its head. Enter: the restaurant CRM system.

why restaurants need a CRM example

What Exactly Is a Restaurant CRM System?

A restaurant CRM system is like a restaurant guest database on steroids. Also known as a restaurant Customer Relationship Management tool, it helps you retain your best customers by effectively managing the critical guest data that makes personalized service and marketing possible. For example, it might track guests’ contact info, reservation history, dietary preferences or birthdays. Restaurant CRMs integrate with other vital tools to share customer data across your POS, loyalty program and reservations system.

Why You Need a Restaurant CRM

CRM systems are designed to help you maintain your relationships with guests over time, so they return more often and spend more money as a result. The potential impact on your business is immense. In fact, increasing your repeat guest rate by just 5% can boost profits northwards of 25%, and by some accounts up to 95%. CRM systems can include a variety of features with the most common being:

Collect and store personal guest information like name, email, phone, address, birthday, anniversary, company, title, allergies, dietary restrictions and more.
Track guest visits and order history on guest profiles, including dates of previous visits and item-level visibility into past purchases.
Send targeted email messages and offers to guests based on their personal information.
Record email performance metrics, such as who read what email and did they make a reservation as a result?

Some CRMs have more advanced bells and whistles, but it’s important that your restaurant CRM does the basics really well: Gives you easy access to guest profiles, so that you can use the data in service and in marketing campaigns. Here are some examples:

Collect and Consolidate Guest Data Across Your Portfolio and Tech Stack

Restaurant CRMs integrate with your existing tech stack to share guest data across your POS system, reservation system, online ordering and email marketing. Not only are disparate systems tough to track, but they also affect data accuracy. A consolidated guest database improves accuracy and helps you access key information at all marketing touchpoints.

FYI: Having a robust restaurant CRM platform is vital if you own multiple venues. It centralizes guest data across all locations and touchpoints. SevenRooms CRM solutions can expand as you do. Learn more.

Better Understand Guest Behavior and Dining Habits

When you can track booking patterns and visit history, you can better analyze sales trends and target your marketing efforts. Recording more specific data like dining preferences and food allergies can help you deliver the best possible experience for your most loyal guests — right down to their favorite corner booth they book for special occasions. 

Create More Personalized Guest Experiences

Restaurant CRM software also allows staff to deliver personalized customer experiences at scale without an exhaustive effort. 

Cross-Selling and Upselling During Service

With a technology aid, your front-of-house team can delight each guest without memorizing individual preferences. For example, your staff can:

Recommend wine based on past preferences.
Put a candle in a dessert order if you know a guest’s birthday is coming up.
Seat a regular at their favorite table, or with their favorite server.
Let a table linger if they have a history of post-dinner drinks.
Seat guests in their favorite spot based on their preference for noise level, temperature and more.

Improve and Inform Your Restaurant Loyalty Program

Data collected from a CRM can be used to fuel loyalty programs. You can implement loyalty perks such as birthday rewards, gift cards, signup bonuses, and points programs to keep guests returning again and again. The more you know about your customers, the better you can predict who will best serve your customer loyalty programs.

Generate More Opportunities for Targeted Email and SMS Marketing 

Segmented and hyper-personalized messages can boost the success of your email marketing campaigns and drive more revenue. Here are a few ways to use data to engage customers via email:

Invite all guests that order craft beer to an Octoberfest event.
Send a birthday note to all guests during their birthday month.
Reach out to guests who booked a private party last holiday season with a special offer.
Announce a new allergy-friendly menu item to guests with dietary restrictions.
Invite guests who have visited 3x to dine at a private chef’s table.

Pro tip: The most successful targeted marketing campaigns are ones you tailor to your strengths. Not every example will suit your specific restaurant concept, but you can leverage CRM data to personalize your efforts.

Hungry for more? Learn how In Good Company leveraged their guest database to capture 400% more emails and improve open rates by 68%. Read their full story here.

ICG sevenrooms restaurant crm quote

What Should You Look for in a Restaurant CRM?

Here are a few important questions to consider when evaluating a CRM system for your business:

What is the process for cleansing and importing my existing database?
Can I easily export data from the cloud-based system?
Is there any limit to the size of my customer database?
What standard fields come in the guest profile?
Are there any customization fields or tags for profiles?
Does the system offer embedded email capabilities or integrate with a third-party email system?
Does the CRM integrate with my restaurant reservation system so profiles can be leveraged in-service?
Does the CRM integrate with my POS system so that purchase history can be recorded on each profile?
Is the system fully GDPR-compliant?
Does the system comply with local email regulations including CAN-SPAM?

What CRM Options Are There for Restaurants?

There are several restaurant CRM software options available today, but traditional systems like Salesforce, Zoho or Sugar CRM are horizontal solutions built for the masses. What works for retail and healthcare organizations won’t suit restaurants. For a full list of the best restaurant CRM solutions, check out our comparison guide.

online restaurant reservation system

Learn More: Restaurant Reservation System Comparison Guide

The SevenRooms CRM was built specifically for hospitality businesses, where personal relationships matter most. For example, it’ll integrate with your restaurant reservation system and POS. Check out our full list of our CRM integrations and APIs.

If you’re ready to leverage a no-fuss restaurant CRM system to boost your guest experience and bottom line, schedule your SevenRooms demo today.

Restaurant CRM FAQs

Why Do Restaurants Need a CRM?

A CRM helps restaurants easily collect, store and manage important guest data that can be used to personalize the guest experience in-service and through marketing communication. This helps restaurants boost loyalty and drive more revenue.

What Is the Best CRM for Restaurants? 

There are dozens of great CRMs in the market, but the best CRM system for restaurants is one that is tailored specifically for the restaurant industry, like SevenRooms.

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