It’s no mystery, profitability in the restaurant business is always a challenge. Does the phase “feast or famine” come to mind? Owning and operating a restaurant can be a risky business, but for the savviest entrepreneurs, here are a few tips regarding tactics to implement that will, hopefully, improve your chances of success and profitability.
What leaves customers raving about their dining experience, bringing them back time after time? The food, yes, but arguably even more important – the server. Have you ever left a restaurant feeling absolutely elated because you ate an incredible meal, and had a hilarious conversation with your server? Or perhaps you were a tourist and your server let you in on some insider information on the best parts of town. Whatever the connection may have been about, it changed the entire experience. Your restaurant should have this, and it can, if you hire highly personable people, and find ways to reward them for a job well done.
Easily Navigable Website
You get a grand total of one chance to impress a potential customer with your website. Whatever wiggle room there may still be for an old fashioned looking website on a computer, doesn’t exist for a mobile device. What that means – if your website doesn’t work, or is challenging, shall we say, on a mobile device, then you will most likely not be receiving business from anyone perusing your site via a mobile device. Think about it, you’re sitting in your car trying to make dinner plans, searching for restaurants on your mobile device or tablet. The first site you look at it won’t load properly on your device, and you’ve no idea how to get to the menu. Are you going to sit there for more than two minutes and try to figure it out? Probably not, most people wouldn’t. Well there you have it – have a nice looking, mobile optimised website, and you will be rewarded with more customers. Don’t have one, and you will lose customers, it’s as simple as that.
Old Fashioned is Less Than Charming
Technology must be a part of your establishment, if for no other reason than efficiency. Gone should be the days of the inability to split checks in however many ways customers desire. Get a tablet, enable customers to split up their own checks using a user-friendly tablet. Install charging stations at the tables. Or at least give your hostess a tablet to take down names for the wait list, that also has a texting feature to alert guests that their table is ready. Use technology in every way possible to make the entire dining experience smoother and more comfortable for your guests.
Reviews are KING
Because we live in a digital, online, world now, your online presence and actions are immensely important. People want to trust other people’s experiences and opinions, so reading through reviews are 2nd best after receiving a personal recommendation from a friend. How you attend to and respond to reviews is essential for your success. Sites such as Yelp and Foursquare are your platforms to thank your fans and receive feedback. Whenever you receive a positive review, especially if it’s a long post, respond by saying thank you, and even ask if it would be ok to share the review. This makes the guest feel appreciated, and allows you to softly toot your own horn.
When you receive a mixed review, which is usually an overall positive review with a few critiques, thank the reviewer, and let them know their critiques were heard and are being addressed.
If you receive a downright negative review, apologise for their unfortunate experience, and give them an email address to contact, where you can then apologise further and figure out a way to improve the situation, turning the negative reviewer into a potential future fan.
Keep Up With the Health Craze
Healthier eating, sustainable eating, farm to table, gluten free – go the whole nine yards. Or at least go any amount of yards in this direction. Fattening and unhealthy is no longer the trend. The healthier, the more sustainable, the better. The more options for gluten free, vegan, etc. the better. Any length your restaurant can go to accommodate a wide range of food needs, the more supportive and helpful your establishment will appear. It’s trendy, and will continue to be so, to help the environment, and to support local farmers. Someone suffering from coeliacs, who is constantly frustrated by lack of dining options, has a fabulous experience in your restaurant, is very likely to write a raving review about you. That same guest, in an establishment that, not only doesn’t cater to gluten-free folks, but received an attitude from her server when requesting modifications, is very likely to write a negative review for all the world to see.
So much time and energy is put into operating and restaurant, make sure the fruits of your labour aren’t going to waste by overlooking simple tactics that will maximise your profitability. Two main concepts – customer service and accessibility. If you and your staff are delivering top notch customer service practices in every aspect of running the establishment, then you will experience success. If your website is easy to access and use on any device, then more and more people will frequent your restaurant. Analyse your restaurant, are you doing all of those things to the best of your ability? If not, why? Are there ways to improve quickly?