Posted by Colin Ransom on 12 Aug 2014

Okay I’m currently sitting (at time of writing) in a (casual) restaurant in York City Centre. I can see plenty of ways this already great place could become even greater. Here’s what I think they (and others) should do:

  • Re-think your brand message. Does it cohere? Does the exterior of the restaurant match the décor/match the menu? Re-think what you are, and what your actual offer is. Is it clear? Or is it confusing to customers and potential customers? If potential customers have to enter the restaurant to ask what sort of food you serve – there’s something wrong.
  • Think about whether or not the restaurant is well-ventilated (this one isn’t, by the way). It’s the middle of summer – if there’s no air con – crack open a window or three already! This will help to keep the customer area fresh and appealing.
  • Smell – if you must use fabrics and soft furnishings that are going to harbour bad smells, there has to be a plan in place to keep on top of cleaning these. Smelly cushions + heat + poor air-flow is very off-putting. Leather or faux leather is a good solution, as this can be wiped clean.
  • Don’t keep wandering off into the back area leaving the floor unattended. Your customers are coming in then leaving and you don’t know anything about it. How much is this losing in sales? This is particularly inexcusable when there’s more than one member of staff working, but all are “off the floor”.
  • Have a thorough cleaning plan in place. Because there’s rustic and there’s plain old dirty. It doesn’t create a good impression at all. You should review your cleaning contract regularly, since no doubt this costs you good money. Look at other quotes and companies. There are literally dozens of cleaning companies that would love to take your contract cleaning on.
  • For the love of God, SMILE! The restaurant is not the arena in which to address personal issues. Okay so this is a complex one with so many variables. Self-appraisal should be carried out regularly. If you’re not happy at work anymore – this needs addressing.
  • Music – your own personal power ballad CD is NOT good music to dine to. Match the music to the time of day: the later/busier, the faster the tempo should be to encourage quicker cover/table turnover.
  • Lighting – again this should change depending on day-part. I die inside every time I pass a restaurant at night and all the lights are up. It’s SO off-putting!
  • Keep the restaurant tidy. I’ve blogged about this before. It’s SO important. Don’t leave dirty tables as a last priority. Breaks are not more important than re-laying tables.

A few basic tweaks like these can mean the difference between a mediocre dining experience and a great one. And guess which one is more likely to encourage repeat-custom. I haven’t addressed food in this post, but I read and Tweeted an article by Melodie Michel this morning about how customer service has been voted most important factor when choosing a restaurant, so it’s so important to get this right EVERY time.

In all seriousness, though, none of this is particularly difficult, but do please get in touch to discuss further, or if you’d like to put a plan in place to improve the dining experience within your own business.


P.S. – Budget hand wash –NO!!

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