Determining the key success factors that influence the brand loyalty of restaurant patrons
The tourism industry is the fastest growing industry above all other industries and has an impact on the economy and the environment as well as the community. The variety of sectors within the tourism industry, and the fact that each sector comprises multiple businesses increases the level of competition between tourism organisations significantly, especially in the hospitality sector. Within an industry and sector such as this, it is crucial to retain satisfied patrons and to create loyal patrons as the growth in competition can lead to a loss in customers and in turn a loss in revenue. The recession in 2009, however, caused patrons to decrease and restrict their spending within the hospitality sector, especially at restaurants. Thus delivering a satisfied experience and building loyalty towards a restaurant became of utmost importance. Building loyalty towards a restaurant does however require an understanding of the factors contributing to this loyalty. The purpose of this research was to determine the key success factors contributing to the loyalty of restaurant patrons. To achieve this aim, the following objectives were set: to determine the importance of marketing and branding within a competitive market by means of a literature review; to determine the importance of brand loyalty within a competitive market by means of a literature review; to determine the key success factors that influence brand loyalty to restaurant patrons, and, lastly, to draw conclusions and make recommendations regarding the key success factors that influence brand loyalty of restaurant patrons. This was achieved by using a quantitative research approach through distributing self-administered questionnaires among patrons at the Spur Steak Ranch restaurant in Potchefstroom where 255 usable questionnaires were collected. The data collected through the questionnaires were then captured in Microsoft Excel and processed through SPSS. Analyses such as descriptive statistics, factor analyses as well as t-tests and ANOVAs were conducted through SPSS. The descriptive results revealed that aspects such as the cleanliness and tidiness of the restaurant, being able to spend time with friends and family, the food quality, enjoying the restaurant, the accuracy of the orders, having a good previous experience at the restaurant, the accessibility of the restaurant, having enough personal space and the service quality is very important to restaurant patrons when considering being loyal to the restaurant. The factor analyses conducted through SPSS revealed five key success factors contributing to restaurant loyalty. These factors are: (1) the service and staff quality; the value and quality of food; (3) the total experience; (4) convenience and (5) the children‘s facilities and menu. Comparisons were conducted by means of t-tests between some of the demographic results such as the gender of patrons and the different visiting motives of patrons and the five factors found in the factor analyses. ANOVA comparisons were also conducted on the five key success factors and the demographic results of the different occupations, languages, income, visiting frequency, and on the patrons with a secret tribe kids’ club card. Significant differences were found between the genders of the patrons, as well as within the visiting motives of patrons, their occupations and those that are part of the secret tribe kids’ club loyalty programme. The results of this study can be used by restaurant managers to improve the factors that patrons perceive as key success factors contributing to their loyalty towards a restaurant. Although there are certain key success factors, these factors differ between industries. This case study is a very specific one aimed at the Spur Steak Ranch restaurant in Potchefstroom, thus the key success factors found are specific to this restaurant, thus the manager of this restaurant can focus specifically on these factors found and by doing this, this restaurant can increase and build their loyal patrons, prevent a loss in patrons and, in turn, increase their revenue and ensure their sustainability and increase their competitive advantage against other family restaurants.