5 mistakes that drive diners away, and how you can fix them
You have opened your restaurant, and managed to make it unique and interesting. Your food is good, and customers are coming through the doors – but just once, and never again. What are you doing wrong? We have compiled a list of the unforgivable mistakes that drive diners away. Are you guilty of any of these?
Sloppiness and poor hygiene
All restaurateurs know that dirty tables and cutlery are unacceptable. Yet, many more details in your restaurant can create the impression of poor standards: from sticky tables and chairs, to unkempt facilities, to sloppy waiters putting their fingers inside glasses or dishes. The risk is that your customers interpret your lack of attention to detail as lack of respect – or worse, as an indicator that your kitchen is as sloppy and untidy as your front of house. How to fix it: Pay close attention to details. Make sure that your spaces are clean, and give your waiters thorough training as regards the required attitude towards guests.
Customers feel ignored and undervalued if dishes are slow to arrive, or if it takes too long to take their order after they are seated. Slow service can be caused by many factors. A disorganized kitchen might delay the delivery of dishes; inattentive or overworked waiters may forget to attend to specific guests or tables. How to fix it: A good management system can help you keep track of unattended tables and slow-to-arrive dishes. Remember to give long-waiting customers a small gift to thank them for their patience: a free cocktail costs little, and can help you gain back a customer.
Customers feel cheated if the quality of your food and service changes between visits. Once you set your standards, you need to make sure you can deliver them at every single lunch and dinner service. How to fix it: Create a clear set of rules and values. These can range from guidelines for the preparation and look of dishes, to standardized greetings, to how to deal with special demands. Make sure that the experience you offer is always top-notch, no matter which staff member is working in the kitchen or on the floor.
No one likes to visit establishments where the staff is disrespectful, or looks uninterested in their customers. If your waiters do not greet customers, respond impolitely, or are more interested in turning tables than in making diners feel welcome, you have a problem. How to fix it: Focus on hiring people that are conscientious and polite, and give them solid training throughout their career – not just on day one. The best management systems include tools that help you with staffing, from the hiring process down to staff training and performance management. Make sure that you create a positive work environment, and give your staff the necessary time to rest: if your employees are happy at their job, it will show.
Not listening to customers’ complaints
Have you ever dismissed a diner’s comment saying that you had no time, or that there was nothing you could do to help them? Then you have broken one of the key rules the industry. Even if you are busy, or the customer’s complaints are uncalled-for, always express interest and understanding. Listen to your customers, and show you are willing to solve their problems. Most diners will be willing to give you a second chance if you respond appropriately to their concerns. How to fix it: Be accessible to customers, listen to their concerns and offer a solution. Have a client recovery process in place, and make sure that all your staff is familiar with it. Offer some small compensation: the cost will be repaid when customers return again and again. Customer satisfaction has a massive impact on revenue: as the old adage goes, “A happy customer tells a friend; an unhappy customer tells the world”. Ultimately, the survival of your restaurant depends on your customers. If you are making any of the mistakes discussed above, it’s time to make radical changes. If you want to know how a new management system could help improve your ability to satisfy your clients, drop us a line and our experts will get back to you.