Will Rogers once remarked that “You Never Get A Second Chance to Make a First Impression”. This is certainly true when it comes to managing a restaurant.
Studies have shown that after a single negative experience, 51% of customers will choose to never visit that business again. Here are our top tips to ensure your restaurant always makes a good impression.
#1 Have a great online presence
The first impression a customer has of your restaurant, will almost certainly occur before they even step through the door. According to one study, 90% of customers will research a restaurant online before they visit it.
Having a great online presence is composed of a number of different factors. This includes having a website that is user-friendly and positively reflects the restaurant’s brand and food. If images of the food featured on the website they should be high quality and appealing.
It also means that the website should contain all of the information that the customer needs in order to visit. This typically will include the opening hours, contact details, a map and potentially a digital version of the menu.
Another critical aspect of a restaurant’s online presence is having plenty of positive reviews. 60% of people will read reviews about a restaurant before choosing to dine there. Those surveyed said that online reviews were more important in choosing a restaurant than food photos or even having directions to the restaurant. And in another Harvard Business School study, it was shown that a one-star increase in restaurant reviews on Yelp, correlated with a 5 – 9% increase in revenue.
Finally, it needs to be easy for the customer to make a booking at the restaurant. Customers want to be able to make a restaurant booking via their smartphone and have the process be seamless. Setting up a reliable and user-friendly restaurant reservation software system can be complex. So for most restaurants, it will make sense to use a third-party booking app like EatApp.
#2 Service should be impeccable
Once the customer does take that first step through the door the service needs to be impeccable. When the customer first enters the restaurant they should be greeted promptly and friendly by the host or hostess. They should then be guided to their table with minimal delay.
The person who will have the biggest impression on the customer is the waiter. This is the member of staff who has the greatest interaction with the customer. Dining out should be a special experience. The way that they are treated by the waiter will dictate the quality of that experience.
While clientele who dine in are of course important, employees should also be careful not to neglect delivery and take-out customers. Everyone who interacts with the restaurant should receive the same friendly and professional treatment.
#3 The small details count
69% of restaurant patrons said that complimentary extras would increase their customer loyalty. Furthermore, 64% said that being given their seating preferences would likewise make them more likely to become repeat customers.
When it comes to making the right first impression and make clients come again it is often the small details that count. Examples of those small details that make all the difference, including offering free water, bread or an appetizer. The relatively small cost of providing these is more than offset by the increased revenue from return customers.
#4 Food is everything
A fantastic ambiance and friendly staff are important, but the quality of the food is everything. Fundamentally people come to a restaurant to eat, so the food needs to be excellent. People are dining out more than ever before. With so many competing food options, restaurant patrons’ expectations are high. This means that food needs to be fresh, delicious and with consistently good presentation.
#5 Payment should be seamless
Often a great meal will be ruined when it comes time to get the check. People tend to remember the first and last thing that happens to them during an experience. This means that even if they have a great meal, it is still possible to ruin the overall experience if payment is difficult. This means that when the customer is ready to pay, the bill should be presented promptly. A good restaurant will be able to accept payment in the form that is most convenient for the customer. Whether that’s cash, credit, debit or even Paypal. Making it easy for the customer to pay, will mean that they are more likely to return.
Plenty of time and money goes into getting a customer through the front door of a restaurant. But the long term success of any marketing strategy relies on customers deciding to come back. The best way to guarantee that is to ensure your restaurant is consistently making a fantastic first impression.