The restaurant business is both highly competitive and deeply rewarding. If your restaurant is doing great, there is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing people come in and leave with full bellies and big smiles on their faces.
If your restaurant is not doing well, the soul-crushing view of empty tables and disgruntled patrons can be devastating.
Luckily, there are some things you can do if you find yourself in the latter situation. While these are not easy fixes, they can revamp your restaurant and breathe some life into it.
Restaurants that have gotten the ambiance riddle correct have a certain je ne sais quoi about them that keeps people coming back.
The unique blend of visual, auditory, gustatory and olfactory sensations makes a restaurant both comfortable and enjoyable to visit. While most restaurateurs focus a lot on functional things, other subtle things can make a substantial difference.
Consider fresh cut flowers, crisp white tablecloths, well-picked background music, complimentary colors, mood lighting, spaces optimized for feng shui, lightly scented candles, and so on. The ambiance is the delightful story your restaurant tells your customers’ senses, all without speaking a single word.
According to one prominent restaurant interior design company, the biggest mistake a restaurant can make is to take a DIY approach to their ambiance. They compare it attempting to do a surgery yourself instead of working with a qualified surgeon.
Menus happen to be the most poorly optimized yet the most important contact point between customers and restaurants. Without a menu, there is no way for the customer to understand the restaurant. If the menu is poorly designed, not updated or hard to find online, these can all be a source of frustration on the part of the customer and lost business for the restaurant.
To fix this, consider using menu software like Open Menu that makes it easy to maintain an up-to-date menu.
Also, make sure to publish your menu to as many places as possible including your website, social media profiles, review sites like Yelp! and others. An easy-to-find and use menu is a delight to customers and will also reduce time-consuming inquiries to the business.
Meal execution applies especially to small restaurants that may not see the necessity of investing in the practice. But this is a mistake. Attractive food presentation and flawless meal execution are essential even at the tiniest restaurant. While you may not have all the fancy plating equipment large restaurants have, you should aim for perfection with what you have.
If you run a fast-food restaurant serving food on paper plates, make sure the plates are well-designed, color coordinated and structurally designed for practical use.
If you run a diner, make sure all your plates are spotless, food serving is uniformly done, and all condiment containers are spotless. These changes can have a significant impact on customer experience.
Ambiance, menus and meal execution. A trifecta that if you get right, can change the fortunes of your restaurant business. Just remember that while these three tactics can be effective, the heart of any restaurant is the food, and this, you absolutely must first get right before trying these steps.