ADVICE TO GROW A SUCCESSFUL RESTAURANT BUSINESS
are many serious problems with the restaurant industry today and it is
driving business down!"
Noisy Atmosphere - A loud
restaurant is an assault upon your customer's senses. Most have been
driving in traffic and are tired and need to eat and converse (talk) in
peace, not be blasted with loud music. Some need to read reports or
the newspaper. Loud music is the #1 problem driving your customers
away from your restaurant. Your (business ignorant) employees have
turned your fine establishment into a loud annoying night club atmosphere.
Turn off the music and you will see an increase in business, but it will
take time to recover from the damages. People still remember the
unpleasant atmosphere and are avoiding your restaurant. You should
run an advertisement or set up a window or outdoor sign, "peaceful quiet
dining - guaranteed" to recover from the damage. If you are
loud music, you are losing a lot of money. In a loud environment
people rush to eat and skip desert. They eat and run to escape from
the noise and they do this by ordering the cheapest menu item. Make
sure your manager can turn the music volume off or down. Many owners
or the managers leave the stereo on too loud and nobody can turn it off.
Elderly employees always turn up the music too loud because they have lost
hearing capacity. The young employee wants to party. Both age
groups are bad for business when they have control over the music volume.
Seriously considering zero music. You may be surprised how peaceful
your restaurant will be with an increase in business with loyal and repeat
customers you will gain. Make sure loud noise from the kitchen does
not flow into the dining area, this is very important.
Soft Music - If you must have
music it must be whisper quiet, in the background so people can talk without
raising their voice. Think of a fine steak house atmosphere.
Even a fast food restaurant needs to quiet down the atmosphere. Why?
Eating is eating and the same peaceful atmosphere is required. Do not
let ignorant employees drive you out of business or hurt sales. Keep
the music level low and soothing. Many smart businesses are shutting
off the music entirely and discovering a huge success of increased business.
Try it. Remember to select the proper music when dining to set an easy
listening atmosphere. Rock, rap, hip-hop, wild jazz, disco is not
appropriate for dining. Your employees may want the party atmosphere,
but your customers do not. The customer pays the bills.
Impolite Employees - Order takers
or waiter/waitresses who are in a bad mood will come off as being rude.
Temporarily or permanently rotate this moody employee away from the front
counter or their attitude will certainly force customers to do business
elsewhere. People have no tolerance to be mistreated by restaurant
employees and they will hold a long grudge. Train your employees to
greet each customer in a polite manner.
Forced Tips - Do not fall into the
trap some businesses are doing. Forcing customers to pay a mandatory
gratuity. Let the employee "earn their tips" from "good service."
A rude and uncaring employee should not be rewarded for destroying your
business. Let good service always remain as the central core of your
Manager's Responsibility - Make
sure your manager(s) sit at the tables and test them to see how many are
rocking and spilling drinks. You will be amazed how many defective
tables you may find that anger your customers. Does one table when
applying elbow pressure move the adjacent table? That is annoying to
all of your customers that sit in such defective booths. What
about the seating? When was the last time your manager sat in the
seats us customers must sit in? Are the seat cushions broken? If
your tables wobble and spill drinks and your seats are broken then you
deserve an empty restaurant. You need to be aware of customer service
to make sure your customers are "happy" not complaining from discomfort.
Is your manager communicating with you of such things needing to be repaired
or is he simply oblivious to these basic principles?
Cleanliness - Sure, the restrooms
should be clean, but don't forget the floors, windows and sills. Clean
up everything that can be seen. Customers hate dirty restaurants.
Even if it is clean a surface may visually appear dirty and will need new
paint. Clean! Clean! Clean! Parking lot too must be
Hand Towels - Do not use those
no-touch hand air driers. Why? Because now your customer has to
use a "bare hand" to open the door and they hate that. Why?
Because they just saw four people not wash their hands and touched the door
handle. Paper hand towels may be expensive, but when you try to save
cost at the expense of sanitation, your customers frown and generate a
dislike for you and your restaurant. Do not treat customers with
disrespect. Make sure you also have soap in the restroom and sanitary
toilet seat covers. A clean restroom is like advertising, "we truly
do care about you." A dirty restaurant restroom says, "we hope
you catch a disease and you don't come back."
Flies - Get rid of them. You
can't have flies competing with your customers. Buy a fly swatter and
use it often. Instruct employees that you now have a new policy; zero
tolerance of flies. Don't leave dead flies as is. Wipe up the
mess right away after swatting them. There are products you can buy to
cut down on flies. It is a battle, but it is one you must win or you
may go out of business or seriously cripple your business potential.
Do you like eating with flies?
Clean Menus - Wash those menus.
How many times have you been handed a menu that is smeared with grease, oil
and dried food crud? The menus must be cleaned, inside and out.
Class - Strive to maintain an
atmosphere of a high class establishment, even if it isn't, just strive to
be. People will take notice of the effort. You need to be
"different" to attract and retain customers. Competition is fierce and
Consultant - Hire a
competent and proven successful
restaurant consultant who is familiar with and highly focused on
"environmental quality." The moment a customer enters your
establishment they should take a deep breath and know this place is
soothingly quiet, clean and comfortable. And when greeted by your
employee they are overjoyed to be made welcome.
Food Quality - You would think
this is obvious, but it is not. Cooks do fall asleep at
the wheel and the manager often does not taste the food periodically to
insure quality control. Instruct your manager to randomly inspect the
food for texture, taste and temperature. Increase quality. Do
not skimp by skipping a vegetable in a meal to save money or use a canned
vegetable when you should increase quality by using frozen style. Good
food must taste good. Keep feeding people slop and they will eat
elsewhere. "If you don't eat here, we will both starve"
applies. Your manager needs to sit down and eat the food you expect
others to eat. A bad cook or a cook with a vendetta can ruin a good
restaurant fast. Quality control is on ongoing need. Never slack
on food quality. Example: a cook may substitute a gravy that tastes
horrible and is not acceptable, so watch for these things.
Water Quality - Filter your water
with activated carbon to remove chlorine smell and taste. Your
customers will certainly know the difference. Even your coffee will
brew and taste better. Nobody appreciates drinking chlorinated-tasting
tap water. It shows you care about your customers and it is an
offensive insult to serve such inferior quality water to your customers.
Your manager needs to taste the water each day to maintain quality.
Who is in Control? Somebody must be
held accountable for all of the above. Somebody must take each issue
serious and diligently pursue perfection. Incompetent employees must
be trained to be competent. Most restaurants today are "out of
control" and quality control is nonexistent. As a result customers
suffer and your business suffers. Do not let your employees run the
show. You, the owner or highly paid general manager must be involved on
a personal level. You must get involved and sit down, order a meal and
listen and feel the environment. Maybe that tipsy table will spill
your coffee and a seat may cut the circulation off below the knee due to
faulty design. If you are uncomfortable, you will lose business.
If you can't tell the difference then hire someone who is a professional to
insure you are up to quality standards.
Free Sample Questionnaire - Below
is a sample questionnaire you should use as a basic format. You need
customer feedback, desperately. It is the only way to delve deeply
into your customer's mind so you can make improvement and to discover
Silverware - Does the silverware
have sharp edges (by the manufacturers cheap stamping design) that is
uncomfortable to hold in the hand? Many restaurants have purchased
cheap silverware with narrow and often sharp razor-like edges that actually
cut into the fingers. Purchase those heavy rounded versions of
silverware. Give your customer the experience of dining in an upscale
restaurant. Does the silverware still shine or has it become dull,
scratched and old?
Outdoor Seating - Never install
concrete or metal tables and chairs. Why? Because when the
weather is cold customers sit with great discomfort and elbows and hands
can't tolerate contacting the cold table surface. Same with hot
weather. Uncomfortable customers will not return and you will lose
business. Consider strong "heavy duty" plastic tables and chairs that
do not flex or wobble when used. Most restaurants that use plastic
often purchase cheap flimsy furnishings that easily spill drinks or chairs
tip over and are plain uncomfortable. Wicker furnishings is the best.
It never feels cold or hot and is very comfortable and the customers love
it. It also looks very classy and that is what you need to keep your
business strong. Even plastic or wood picnic tables are way better
than metal or steel when it comes to temperature-related comfort. If
you do not have outdoor seating you are also restricting business as people
love to sit outside when the weather permits. Also, with outside
seating shut off the music. Let customers have the choice to sit outdoors in
silence or sit inside with music. A quiet zone area will attract
customers that otherwise would not visit your establishment. And don't
put trash containers next to tables where people are eating as the odor is
offensive and customers will not return to eat here again.
Illegal Immigration - Beware
this practice of hiring non-English-speaking-foreigners that do not know
how to cook or interact with the public will absolutely kill a
restaurant business. People will not tolerate sloppy service and
they should not have to! Food quality is degenerating in many
restaurants because these employees have a language barrier and they can
not cook American style food. They will serve cold food and they
will unsafely prepare the food, undercook the food, etc.
It's a real problem and when your customers get a bad case of diarrhea
you can be certain they won't complain, they just won't ever come back
again to your restaurant! Be very careful who you hire because
unskilled employees can wreck your business,
permanently! Whoever you hire make sure they are being
supervised and the supervisor is supervised too to operate your business
to your parameters.
Consistancy - Is the food
being prepared properly every time? Do you even have a "recipe"
your cooks can refer to? No recipe directions is a formula for
ruin! How many times have you eaten in a restaurant and discover
the food, this time around, did not taste right? Or plain tasted
lousy? That's because no recipe is being used to insure
"consistent quality" control.
improving on your quality control and your customer service. The
customer is always right, always even when he is wrong. Get it?
Give refunds if need be with a smile. One person badmouthing your
business can spread to 3,000 people and if it hits the Internet and
social sites watch out as tens of thousands of people can give you a bad
rap reputation in minutes! Your restaurant is in the "enjoyment
business" and its got to be a happy experience or your business will
stagnate and eventually fail.
Advertising is a
waste of money if you do not deliver on the promise. If your food
or service or both is lousy all you are doing is attracting people to
become disgruntled customers who in turn will be badmouthing your
restaurant making up jokes about your food and service that will wipe
out profits and crush your dreams. Word of mouth is still best
advertising and if you have good food you are going to win. You
will lose if the food tastes bad and the dining environment is
You Be The Judge how
great your restaurant truly is by testing it yourself. Are the
chairs so terrible that it cuts circulation off under the knees?
It the table rocking so items spill? Is the table set so low you
have to stoop to eat? Table set so high it's just no fun?
What about the atmosphere? Are there two radios or two TV's
conflicting with each other making a bunch of nonsense noise?
Volumes too loud? It is too loud if you can feel the music or see
customers tapping their feet to the music. It means the music is
now taking over the "senses" instead of the "food" and people won't
remember how good your food was will they? They won't!
Loud music distracts everybody, customers and employees and pollutes the
mind erasing the good experiences from customer's memories. Very,
very, few restaurants can thrive with an ongoing
nuisance inside. Employees love loud music, but customers
don't. This is important to remember at all times. Sometimes
the problems are so severe that even you can't see the problems anymore.
Hire a consultant to examine your business. A good free
consultant? Go to a high class successful restaurant (not a chain
type restaurant) and observe, taste, listen, enjoy and copy the
environment as much as you can.
RESTAURANT CUSTOMER QUESTIONNAIRE
questionnaire is one that is too long and difficult to answer."
Let people answer the questions in their own
words. It is the only accurate way to get results. And keep this
in mind, only one of one-hundred customers will bother to fill out a
questionnaire. With that in mind, ninety-nine may feel likewise to each
person who has responded. Just because only three people bothered to
fill out your questionnaire it means 300 people feel the same way! And
always have a "suggestion box" all of the time, not just some of the time.
The box should be locked so the manager or employees can't steal them away
to protect their jobs. The best restaurants will use the postal mail
(with postage prepaid). Why? Customers do not want to be
"identified" when giving constructive advice or risk retaliation from an
angry employee. Mail delivery permits privacy and your customers will
"open up" and tell you the way it is. And that is what you need to
"Believe it or
not. Most customers want you to succeed, that is why they come.
Give them a chance to help you to succeed!"
What did you feel when you first walked into our restaurant?
Was the music volume too loud? _______________________________.
Is the table where you ate to your liking?
How was the comfort of your seat? _______________________________.
Was the menu delivered to you clean? _________________________.
Was the price of the food up to your quality standards?
Were you greeted in a friendly manner and did you feel welcome?
Please name the employee you believe deserves recognition for a job well
Was the restrooms clean and well supplied? __________________________.
What should we remove from our menu? _____________________________.
What should we add to our menu? _____________________________.
Would you like to see heart healthy menu options? _____________________________.
Would you like to see diabetic menu options? _____________________________.
How about a senior citizen discount? _____________________________.
Tell us in your own words what we need to do to make your dining experience
Optional: Write your Name,
Address, Phone, E-mail if you want us to contact you.
Note: If you want to entice
customers to submit your survey you could offer a free sandwich or cup of
coffee that you will send to them in the mail when they mail in the
questionnaire. Of course you can add items to your questionnaire, but
will it enhance customer comfort and satisfaction? Keep it simple,
get a handle on this survey first before you attempt deeper surveys in the
future. You will be surprised to see the results of this survey.
Your customers know your business more than you do.
PUBLISHING RIGHTS - the
article is copyrighted December 1, 2004, but you are granted the right to
publish the article herein titled "Free Advice to Grow Your Restaurant
Business" in perpetuity. You must include the entire article as is,
with no changes of wording. That includes the commentary section by
James Russell. We do request you give full credits to James Russell
Publishing and to post an active Website link to James Russell Publishing
Website. This publishing right may also be arbitrarily rejected and
withdrawn if the article is misused or employed into an obscene or an
offensive environment of which it was not intended to be portrayed.
Tips Main Page