In order to successfully operate an eatery, you need a number of factors to fall into place.
Yes, serving up interesting and worthwhile food is certainly right up at the top of the list, but that’s not all it takes to make a go of it.
When you run a restaurant, making your customers feel at home the minute they walk in the door is crucial. If they don’t like the vibe (despite how good the food may be), there’s a 50-50 chance they won’t return.
So, how does your restaurant go about making patrons feel at home?
Market the Little Things
While there is little doubt you must market all the wonderful foods your restaurant offers, it is also important that you show current and potential patrons why they need to keep coming back again and again.
Aside from winning food, make sure you tout:
- Appearance – From outside your restaurant to the inside, the appearance certainly does matter. Even if your food (and it should be) is nothing short of irresistible, the ambiance of your place must shine too. You should be telling the world about that ambiance, not just waiting for customers to experience it when they walk through the doors. Use your marketing team to promote the inside and outside of your eatery. One way to do this is via Instagram. The site has risen dramatically in popularity over the last couple of years, so your restaurant should definitely have a presence on it. Whether you want to tout your comfy seating conditions inside, lots of room for patrons to maneuver around outside, nice commercial patio furniture, a bar that is second-to-none, the list can go on and on. With the right images, you can tell quite a story using Instagram;
- Service – Your restaurant won’t make it too far without stellar customer service. Once again, this should be one of the cornerstones of your marketing brochures and online pursuits. Most patrons will not tolerate bad customer service, so don’t expect it to fly at your eatery. Depending on the circumstances in play, you may have a day or two where the customer service is lagging; might be due to less help available and/or an overwhelming number of eaters coming to your place. Either way, your customer service efforts should always be the best possible. Remember, it just takes a few bad reviews (professionally or by customers themselves) to give your restaurant a bad rap. When your customer service efforts are and even exceed 100 percent, you typically will be able to avoid getting pegged with a bad reputation;
- Personality – Part of the dining out experience not only involves good food, it also means a good time. When many patrons are out dining, they like to make it a social experience. In order to accommodate them, it is important that your staff (waiters, waitresses, hosts etc.) exude a positive personality. This is another item that you should demonstrate when marketing your restaurant. Along with Instagram, you can use sites like Facebook, Twitter, even YouTube. With the latter, short 30-60 second videos work well. Take consumers on a whirlwind tour of your restaurant through a well-made video. If they’re regular customers viewing the video, they may not be as swayed by watching, though there’s a good chance they may recommend your eatery to their friends and family. Meantime, potential customers could see your video and decide to give your place a try. While you do not have to spend megabucks shooting the video, don’t go the cheap route either.
Given all the sweat and tears that most restaurant owners put into their establishments, you don’t want to be a flash in the pan.
In order to keep your business humming for years to come, making patrons feel at home is as important as it gets.
Even though it ultimately is the food (good or bad) that will likely determine the outcome of how long you remain open, appearance, service, and having staff members exuding positive personalities go a long way in determining your fate too.
Will patrons feel at home when they come through your front doors?
About the Author: Dave Thomas covers business topics on the web.