Running a restaurant is a tough job. They say nine out of ten restaurants will fail in their first year. But it can also be extremely rewarding when you see customers coming back time and time again because they love the dining experience you provide. While you always have big, obvious things to take care of in this type of business, your real success lies in the little things.
Here are seven rules for keeping your customers satisfied and happy:
Seat People Immediately Upon Arriving
If your restaurant has a wait time, it must mean you’re popular – or it could mean you are understaffed. Wait times can drive paying customers away. Minimize wait times by knowing what your peak days and hours are and having sufficient staff to cover those times.
If some members of a party arrive before the rest, seat them without delay. They will be more comfortable at a table than in a lobby or waiting area, and you can serve drinks and appetizers to help tide over the customers as they wait. You will increase your profits while keeping your diners content.
Don’t Cheap Out
If you want a good quality restaurant, you need to present that image. From food to equipment, you need to get the absolute best that you can afford. This instills a sense of trust in your customers because they will recognize that you will always give them the best possible food and service.
Customers Come First
Without your customers, you wouldn’t have a restaurant. Your customers are your bread and butter, so you have to make sure you give them things they really want. The better the service and the food, the more likely they will continue patronizing your restaurant. Luckily for you, there are some apps that make it easier than ever to keep customers and employees happy. Some of our favorites include:
- Managing reservations and tables with SeatMe (now Yelp Reservations) (https://www.yelpreservations.com/)
- Tracking all of your online reviews through Review Trackers (http://www.reviewtrackers.com/)
- Making employee scheduling fast and simple with ZIP Schedules (http://zipschedules.com/)
- Notifying parties when tables are ready with WaitList (https://www.waitlist.me/)
Wait to Clear Tables
People can get annoyed if you clear their table too quickly. Just because they put down their fork and knife for a few seconds doesn’t mean they are finished with their plate. Ask your wait staff to hold off until the customers are ready to pay for their meal to clear the table.
Bring the Check Quickly
Once people have finished their meal, they usually want to be on their way. No one wants to wait around forever for the check. That’s a surefire way to leave a bad taste in their mouth.
Be sure that your wait staff brings the checks promptly so customers can pay and leave. Best of all, this frees up tables for the next customers waiting for service.
Feed the Children
When families place their orders, you need to prioritize getting food to their kids as soon as possible. If the wait for their meal is longer than usual, bring the family bread or other appetizers to curb any hunger pangs. Kids tend to get cranky when hungry, and cranky kids can spoil the dining experience for all of your patrons, not just their parents.
Have a “Kids Eat Free” day on a Wednesday for example. You can make a deal where you offer a free kids meal with the purchase of an adult entree. You’ll be picked up by a lot of mom-bloggers and local publications as being a kid-friendly place.
If you have even an ounce of creativity, you will want to make changes over time to things like your décor, your signs and the menu. Remember though that few people like change. Most people feel more secure when things are familiar. If you’re trying to build up a name and a loyal following, establish a brand identity with consistency.