A restaurant can be a very rewarding start-up if done right, but the key is to retain your customers. In order to increase your customer retention rate, you are going to have to focus on what they are looking for once they step into your restaurant. Here are the most important things you need to understand about what customers look for in a restaurant.
The “environment” is more of an umbrella term used to describe everything that represents your restaurant. The atmosphere is the first thing that the customers are going to recognize in your establishment. Once they step in, they will notice the designs around them, the seating arrangements, the aesthetics that you choose, and much more.
This includes the mental environment as well. How does the staff treat prospective customers? How do the servers or waiters perform? Does the kitchen staff operate in a timely manner? The easiest way to understand what the customers are expecting is to put yourself into their shoes. Walk in through your front doors, get served by your staff, and examine how your restaurant operates.
If the mental environment is toxic and the physical environment is unappealing, you most likely won’t be getting much business any time soon. The experience of your customers will be defined by the environment that they are in, and that is how they will characterize you. Be especially mindful of this because a poor experience can lead customers to inform others not to give you any business. Make your first impression matter, and leave an indelible mark on each person who enters your establishment.
This primarily comes in the form of your menu. This is your selling point, and this is how you are going to relay to customers what they can expect. Make sure that prices and promotions are neatly displayed throughout the menu so that there is no confusion.
You might also want to consider the pictures of the food that you will put on your menu. You should not underestimate the power of the human senses. If something looks good, a customer might consider ordering it. A customer might even ask your servers what they recommend because the pictures looks fantastic.
You should take great pride in your presentation skills because you are selling the entire business in the appearance of your food, menu, and restaurant location. Even when opening a restaurant franchise, it’s essential that you make a great first impression on customers. People may come to your restaurant based on familiarity with the brand and menu, but you want them to stay and enjoy a meal. Whether you’re opening a food franchise or your own restaurant, make sure that you enhance the entrance with great branding and proper lighting. Put your best foot forward, and ensure the presentation skills of your restaurant location, staff, and food is up to par.
The primary instances of communication between your business and your customers will come through your frontline staff. These important individuals are your hosts, waiters, and servers. You will often find that restaurants may not be defined by what food they serve but rather by the kind of communication they give out. If your staff is constantly frustrated and argues with customers, those clients won’t stick around. Whether or not you agree with the old adage “the customer is always right” doesn’t matter. The customer is who gives your business its finances. These people are investing in your service, so, therefore, you need to train your staff to ensure that customers always feel welcome.
Of course, there will be clients who will be difficult to appease no matter what your staff does. Sometimes, demands can be unrealistic, arguments can be made out of frivolous matters, and arguments about pricing are bound to arise. This is why it may be helpful to simulate scenarios so that each waiter and server can practice ways to adapt to common restaurant scenarios. Your staff should remember that the customers are not mad at them personally, but they are mad at the perceived problem. Doing whatever possible to rectify the issue in a professional and courteous manner is the right move.
Believe it or not, silverware that isn’t matching with the overall aesthetic of your restaurant can turn off a lot of people. This is why proper plating and using dishes that are appropriate serving ware are essential moves for customer satisfaction. If you need to hire help for creating the proper arrangements, you should do that. Remember that your customers are looking for the small details of what makes any dining experience great. This includes the utensils that you provide. Make sure the silverware you choose is physically appealing and that the size is appropriate.
It may all depend on where your restaurant is located, but if you are in a closely knit community where everybody is pretty much in the know about everything, your reputation is key. You do not want any negative public relations with the community because that is where your business is going to come from. A restaurant’s reputation is what drives its success so you want to be able to manage both positive and negative reviews about your food services. Reviews can make or break your business. A restaurant should be defined by reasonable pricing, great food, and excellent customer service. You will have to emphasize this to all of your staff and to yourself because you won’t be the only restaurant competing for people’s business. It isn’t just other sit-down restaurants you are competing with either. You must also consider fast food establishments and local convenience stores.
Customers are not required to spend money when they are not happy. This means that the onus is on you to give them a reason to spend money at your place. Ensure that your restaurant can only be defined by praise and that customers have nothing but good things to say. If not, you will have to live with the consequences in the form of decreased sales.
If the customer cannot come to your restaurant in person for the first time, he or she may want to solicit information about your establishment online. While you might be able to make a great first impression if the customer were to come in person, you also want to make a great first impression for prospective customers who are looking at your website.
What should you make sure is included in your online component? Pricing, location, food options, and what it looks like on the inside should be serious considerations in planning your site. Make sure this information is carefully displayed and easy to understand. Contact information, customer reviews, a virtual menu, and an interactive user experience are essential, so the customer knows what to expect once he or she steps inside.
Being online is also a great chance to link out to some of your social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Take the opportunity to provide links to those platforms, so customers can be on the lookout for new information, promotions, or whatever else you may be selling. Make sure your website is attractive, welcoming, and appealing. In other words, make the customer want to visit.
As you can see, it can take a lot to maintain a restaurant, but the difficult part is making sure that customers actually want to enter your door, and as much as marketing will play a large role in that, some of the little things will too. It is all a matter of making sure that you prioritize what is important in regards to what the customer is looking for. Remember that the customer is under no obligation to be a regular visitor, so you have to be the one to sell your experience. Do adequate research, and understand the needs of your potential customers. Do what needs to be done to stand out from the rest of the competition, and you will have no problem reeling in people for unforgettable experiences.
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