Let’s face it, I go to LOT of restaurants. Sometimes I even get the opportunity to chat with owners about their restaurants and what they can do to help increase business. Many times it’s the same advice over and over. For starters, I’m no restaurant owner or consultant at all. I’m just another average customer that knows what helps me decide what restaurant I visit or better yet, return.
These five easy steps cost no money to a restaurant, take little time and are easy to implement.
1.) Have an online/social media presence
We are in an era where most people will immediately Google a restaurants name to find out more information about their destination. You want the most up to date information out there in terms of address, phone number and hours of operation. Not every restaurant will need an actual webpage (even though some websites offer services for free) but opening up a Facebook account cost nothing and is a big draw for visibility.
One of the smallest family owned restaurants that isn’t too tech savvy, Gabby’s Peruvian Carryout, has this down. Follow their lead!
2.) Make your menu available online
If a patron has never been to your restaurant, they will want to see what’s on the menu and sometimes even the pricing. If you restaurant serves strictly a certain type of cuisine, it’s even more important. Say a group of friends are going to a sushi restaurant, one person in the group may not eat sushi and will want to see if there are non-sushi dishes available. You can simply take a picture of your menu and post it to your website especially if you’re a food truck and the menu changes. It takes less than a minute to snap a picture and post it online. Tanya’s Soup Kitchen does an excellent job of this to keep customers informed.
3.) Always let customers know if you close early for one reason or another
Keeping your hours of operation accurate is so key. Wichitans hate long commutes of anything more than one minute; it’s probably fact. So when a customer drives to a restaurant and finds out you are closed when your hours say you’re open, it is very frustrating. That’s possibly one lost customer forever. It’s not hard or time-consuming to post on a Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, “Sorry, we are closed for the day” or something to that extent.
I’m at the point now where if I’m making a decent drive to a small locally owned restaurant, I’ll call them up to make sure they are open.
4.) Engage with your customers online
If a customer is asking questions or posting a review of your business, respond back. Thank them or swallow some pride and accept the criticism. Yes, there are some customers who are just ignorant and will write something horrible but those are far and few between. Other times customers are asking questions to help them decide if they choose the restaurant. Your answers could either make or break added business.
5.) Greet customers when they enter and/or thank them when they leave
A simple hello or thank you can go a long ways. This takes the least amount of effort for customer service. Places like Il Vicino, Kanai, Yokohama Ramen Joint and even Arby’s of all places do a great job of this.
I tell so many owners, managers and servers that excellent customer service can make up for mediocre or sometimes bad food. There are some restaurants I’ll return to simply because the staff are good, genuine people and I want to see their restaurant make it. I’d much rather go to a restaurant with great customer service and mediocre food than great food and mediocre customer service. I used to love Pacific Coast Pizza’s food and despised their customer service……just saying…..
While these five steps won’t determine the longevity or success of any restaurant, it’s a easy way to ensure your customers have five less things to gripe about.
Are there any recommendations you’d give restaurants? Post in the comments below.
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