Tips and Things
The Basics for Attracting and Keeping Guests
What are the basics when it comes to attracting and keeping restaurant guests?
I believe there are five essential elements.
- The right position (image). The need to convey what it is you offer to your potential guest. This includes the combination of your facility design, menu, food, service, and staff. All of these ingredients are needed to convey an appealing image.
- Quality. The level of quality must be appropriate to the type of restaurant, the type of food served, and the prices charged. Quality is an ambiguous term; however, it has various interpretations and arouses different expectations. It is most commonly associated with the taste of the food and beverages. Guests do not expect to find pre-prepared ice cream sundaes in gourmet ice cream specialty shops, but they are acceptable in fast food restaurants.
- Service. Guests perceived “better than expected” service as an added value. In the same way they perceive poor service as “uncaring” which in turn will influence them not to return. Guests of any type of restaurant want to be waited on to the level of their expectation, be served within a reasonable amount of time, receive fair value for their money, and be treated with care and respect. Excellent service is perceived as an added value, which leads to your customers feeling they got more than they expected.
- An appropriate menu. Guests expect a menu to fit the type of restaurant—a limited menu in a fast food outlet, a full, but simple menu in a family restaurant, and a creative gourmet menu in a fine-dining establishment. Guests appreciate a menu that is accurate and easy to read. Prices must be in line with what is offered. Using menu specials adds interest and excitement to the menu and gives your guests the impression of added value. As a rule, menus should be creative, but not too trendy. Trendy menus have limited appeal. Menus should have an appealing design and be in top condition.
- Presentation. Like quality, presentation must always be appropriate to the type of restaurant, the type of food being served, and the prices being charged. Experts agree that guests can be influenced to purchase an item if it is packaged to exceed their expectations. To exceed expectations, food must appeal to all the senses. You can achieve this by being creative with color, texture, the shape of the food, using unique service ware and garnishes, and appropriate music to complete the dining experience.
Guest’s service requirements are situational. The same guest will have different needs at different times. Restaurants are increasingly aware of this and are engaging in “Niche Marketing.” Niche marketing allows a restaurant to meet the guests multiple needs. The challenge is to serve guests from a variety of demographic groups. The restaurant concept musts serve a differentiated population without losing sight of their position in the marketplace.
Good supervision is the art of giving people a shot in the arm without letting them feel the needle.
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A Bit of Wisdom
10 Critical Success Factors
Every restaurant operator knows what areas of the restaurant are critical success factors. It may be the food, people, or level of service. In any case I have listed 10 steps that I feel are important enough for you to consider.
1. Have a daily plan before you enter your restaurant.
Successful people never start a day without a plan. Before you leave your restaurant construct a list for the following day. You may choose a To-Do list, or you may dictate notes into your smart phone on your way home. In any event, stay ahead by planning tomorrow's list today!
2. Make sure the job gets done.
Following up on every project is even more important than initiating it. Be a hard-nosed persistent and make sure the job gets done. It's a lot easier than having to make excuses later.
3. You deposit dollars, not percentages.
I have seen many restaurant operators who are forever looking for ways to lower percentages (i.e. food cost, labor cost) without looking at the profit contributions. Always look at the overall profit contribution (the mathematical difference between a menu item's product cost and it's selling price).
4. Keep hot foods hot, and cold foods cold.
The closer the temperature of the service ware to the food, the better the chances are of maintaining that temperature.
5. People eat with their eyes.
If it doesn't look good, don't serve it! By making your product look good, you are on your way to exceeding your customers expectations.
6. Buy the best products available.
Use the best quality possible. If you start with a quality product there is a good chance you will finish with a quality product.
7. Give your employees feedback.
Immediate feedback is probably the most effective training method you can use. The closer the feedback is to the behavior, the greater its impact. This also applies to reprimands. Unlike compliments, however, which are usually most effective when extended in front of others, reprimands are best discussed in private.
8. Acknowledge your guests with a smile.
The first thing people see or experience exerts a strong influence on their final impression of a restaurant. How can we teach our employees to smile? We must set the example by smiling at them. A smile has a profound effect on your service, and it costs you nothing.
9. Call your customers by name.
Customers have egos and enjoy being recognized, particularly if they are with friends. People with guests will go out of their way to go to a place where they are known and acknowledged.
10. You cannot afford to have anyone leave your restaurant unhappy.
It has often been said that when someone has a good experience at a restaurant, they tell three people; but when the experience is bad, they tell seven (but that was in the good old days). Things have changed now with such sites as "Yelp." A bad posting on one of these sites can be seen by hundreds of people. This is the reason a total dedication to customer satisfaction on the part of every employee is vital to the success of your restaurant. Word of mouth advertising can be positive and negative. It is five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep an old one. Yet many restaurants spend much more of their resources on advertising, couponing, and direct mail than they do on training their employees to provide excellent service.
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