experience is the new marketing.” –Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes Benz USA
What’s really important these days? Delighting your guests!
Here are 18 proven ways to delight and exceed your guests expectations.
1. Genuinely welcome your guests.
How would you welcome guests into your own home? Train your staff to offer a genuine welcome
to your guests, minus any fake scripting.
2. Train your staff to sell each dish.
Make sure your staff have tasted everything on the menu: Make an investment into their food and drink knowledge, and they’ll be able to sell to your customers better.
Teach them to describe the menu items, and which items go together well. Highlight the house-made ingredients, the sourdough bread, the hand cut chips, and the best specials of the day.
3. Train your staff about dietary restrictions and allergies.
Your staff must know the menu inside and out, and they must
know what’s vegan, nut free and gluten-free without having to “check with the
Some food allergies can be life threatening. Being certain that a dish doesn’t contain
nuts is paramount for a guest with a nut allergy – having to go and ask the
kitchen automatically instils doubt in the guest, leading to a less-enjoyable
4. Take care of the kids.
If the kids are happy, so are the parents. Offer a kids
pack, or something basic to entertain the little ones, consider plastic cups
with lids. By offering these little things to calm down a baby or toddler, the
parents will relax into a great experience that much faster.
5. Give a pre-service perk.
If appropriate, offer your guests something delicious right
when they sit down, such as a sip of house champagne, a small bowl of olives or
some housemade bread. Get them excited about the meal ahead before the server
6. Give away the recipe for your favourite dish.
This is taboo, but having a transparent restaurant culture could really make your establishment stand out. So give away the recipe of your favourite dish, without leaving anything out. Have your chef share how they make it on social media. Your guests will still order at your restaurant, they may even order it more often.
7. Offer inventive non-alcoholic drinks.
Provide great options for your non alcohol drinking customers. Think ginger, lime, and mint spritzers on a
hot summers day. It’s cheap to make and will be sure to delight your customers.
8. Allow guests to sample wine & beer.
This is a little thing that can go a long way: If a guest
asks for a sample of wine or beer, always be willing to bring them one, showing
excellent customer service.
9. Involve customers in new product offerings.
If you’re planning on changing some few menu items, ask your guests what they want, post it on social media, and get them involved. It’s easy to increase restaurant sales when you find out what your guests want and then give it to them.
10. Use the guest’s name.
This has been proven on brain scans over and over again:
There is no word we love to hear more than own names. Pass the guest’s name
from the host stand to the server, and be sure it’s used when appropriate.
Don’t go overboard, using their name once or twice throughout the meal is
11. Genuinely thank your guests, because they’re the reason you can do what you love.
Train your wait staff to thank your guests for spending
their meal with you, and in the same interaction, exceed their expectations and
let them know you’d be delighted to serve them again on their next visit.
Remember: Make it real, no scripts here.
12. Transform your loyalty program.
Most establishments have a loyalty program. It is simple – rewarding your loyal customers for their patronage is a proven way to transform them into lifelong, repeat customers. Treating your loyal customers is far easier than constantly attracting new customers.
Bond Brand Loyalty and VISA teamed up in 2017 to launch the
largest-ever loyalty study. They found that 57% of the 28,000 people surveyed
want access your loyalty program…on their smartphone.
Don’t be intimidated, it’s more affordable than ever to
build a mobile app for your restaurant, plus most app developers have templated
loyalty programs you can customize.
13. Allow for online reservations.
Online reservations are much easier to facilitate and organize than reservations made by phone and recorded by hand in a reservation book. 83% of restaurant-goers say the ability to make online reservations is very important to dining experience.
By moving your restaurant’s reservation capabilities online,
you can also record and save data about each customer, and integrate it into
your restaurant’s CRM platform.
14. Try self-serve kiosks.
Are you in the quick service food industry? Guests are adapting very quickly to self
service kiosk technology. This not only
allows guests to order and customise their purchase, it also means staff can
devote themselves to quick and efficient meal preparation.
15. Offer online ordering.
Love it or hate it, it’s here and it’s here to stay: the
growth in online ordering is exploding. Guests
expect to be able to order food online for pickup in the restaurant or for
delivery to their homes, and there are many third party services that can
Considerations need to be made into costings of third party
delivery services or inhouse delivery services.
16. Take advantage of chatbot technology.
Certain customer messaging platforms — like Facebook
Messenger — allow companies to respond to common customer questions with
Domino’s has successfully leveraged the power of chatbot
functionality with their new Domino’s Anyware campaign. Domino’s encourages
users to place orders using the messaging platform of your choice.
Customers place their order by interacting with a chatbot,
which converses with customers by responding with automated messages created by
the Domino’s team. As you can tell by Domino’s campaign , the possibilities
(and platforms) are ENDLESS.
17. If you offer table service take payment at the table.
Guests love the ability to pay at the table. When a guest
asks for the bill, they’re ready to leave – hopefully they’re full and happy,
so why let their final impression of the restaurant be how long they waited to
be able to leave?
Taking payment at the table eliminates waiting at the
counter on the way out, or waiting for the server to collect your card, process
payment and get back to you. Another
perk to this new payments process is the ability to offer text or email
receipts, and collect contact details for feedback.
18. Gather and implement guest feedback.
At the end of your ride, popular ride sharing service Uber
send users a “rate your ride” prompt and ask for instantaneous feedback about
The same strategy can be applied to restaurants. The best time to get honest feedback from
your customers is right after they’ve visited your restaurant, while their
dining experience is still fresh in their minds.
How can you do this seamlessly? Does your point of sale allow you to collect guest feedback as they pay their bill? Even old-fashioned comment cards are better than nothing. Wouldn’t you be more likely to become a repeat customer if a business owner demonstrated they genuinely care about your feedback?
At the end of each week, tally up all the responses
submitted and do what you can to learn from it. If there’s something that you
are able to fix, contact the guest and thank them for their honesty, and invite
them back to see the improvement for themselves.
Excelling in customer service is not about just giving
guests what they want; it’s about giving them more than what they want. It’s
about anticipating what they want, exceeding their expectations, and creating
raving fans who will happily return.
In a highly competitive food service market, attracting new customers through advertising is essential to having a profitable business. This doesn’t always have to be an expensive exercise, with a bit of time and creativity there are many ways to advertise.
Get social with your customers! Post photos of your food, staff and the daily
activities of your restaurant. Human
interaction and real stories are highly prized in the current culture.
Share new menu sneak peaks, offer something special,
celebrate milestones with your customers.
Ensure your posts are relevant and offering your reader something they
can engage in.
Social sites also provide the opportunity to gain feedback and build relationships with potential or current clients.
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
This is a great opportunity to network in your
community. Go to scheduled meetings,
hand out business cards and sample menus. Offer members a first-time freebie or
Target people that live or work in your immediate area, consider
handing out free samples with a menu or special offer attached.
Establishing a clientele from the people that live and work
in the immediate area creates a sustainable foundation for the business.
Collect emails or mobile numbers from your customers and
keep in contact with relevant information like special offers, discounts, menu
sneak peaks or recipes.
On slow days, you might send a limited time offer of a free
drink or appetizer to the first 10 or 20 people who arrive and display the text
message to the wait staff.
Consider engaging in charitable contributions or networking
with other local businesses in a joint fundraising effort. Let your customers know that you are
partnered with your favourite charity.
REACH OUT TO FOOD BLOGGERS
Getting positive reviews can be an extremely daunting task
for any business! One of the best ways is to reach out to local food bloggers
and invite them to your restaurant. Offer them a freebie to get them to your
restaurant. The more you offer, the better chance they would be willing to come
Ask them if they can share their experience at your
restaurant online to their readers and leave their feedback with you. Assuming
everything is positive, promote the review on your own website and social media
GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Take advantage of Google by setting up your Google Business
page. This will contain important
information like opening hours, link to your website and allow customers to
leave reviews. You can also upload
photos and your menu.
List your business in every free local directory that you
can find, online and in print.
PARTNER WITH FOOD DELIVERY SERVICES
Whilst this is not “free” it is an opportunity to appeal to
a large local customer base. Consider if
your menu items will be suitable for delivery without compromising on quality and
WORD OF MOUTH
This is always the best free advertising and can be readily utilised through social media and online reviews. This will also give you the incentive to give the best possible customer experience.
HOST WORKSHOPS OR EVENTS / SPEAK AT LOCAL EVENTS
If you have the space and capacity, host relevant workshops
or cooking demos in your café. Get
involved in local food festivals by hosting a demonstration.
TAKE A STAND ON A RELEVANT INDUSTRY TOPIC
Are you committed to being eco-conscious, are you making
moves to reduce food waste, are you committed to supporting sustainable farming
practises? Tell your customers about it,
share with them how you are taking steps to act on it.
ENTER YOUR BUSINESS FOR AWARDS
Keep an eye out for awards through the Chamber of Commerce
or trade magazines. You can’t be
nominated for an award if you don’t enter it!
Paid advertising definitely has its place, but free
advertising techniques are only limited by your own imagination and creativity! Hopefully some of these ideas help.
Regardless of what industry you are in, we are always faced
with having to compete with cheap.
Cheaper imports, cheaper services, cheaper products…… and the food industry
is no different! There will always be
competitors trying to gain market share with a cheaper offering.
Competing through price is nothing new, but it can be a very
slippery slope. Training your customers
to think you will always be the cheapest option will backfire if you need to
increase your prices. What happens if your
ingredients increase in price and you’re no longer able to serve cheaper
products, what happens if there is a jump in your rent or your staffing cost?
When you compete through price, there’s only so far that you
can go. You have to increase your customer volume in order to make up what
you’re losing by not charging what you should be.
What other tactics can be used when it comes to competing
What’s Your Story?
Restaurants and cafes have been around for a long time and
every style of cuisine has been represented.
So how can you stand out if you want to open up a burger joint, a pizza
place, or a small bar?
Just focusing on competing with the guy next door is a
dangerous game. Chances are you will
lose if your neighbour has been around for a while and is doing things right!
You have to figure out what’s going to set you apart from
any other restaurants out there that are currently doing what you want to do. What is your unique story, what do you bring
that is different from the café next door?
When you have a story that your customers can fall in love with and have a unique angle on a concept or cuisine, you’ll always win. As long as everything else lines up and you run the business effectively, you’ll always be able to win customers and create a sustainable business.
Today’s generation wants good, quality food. They want to
know about the produce and often delight in locally-sourced, ethically responsible
food. If you offer this, make sure to promote it, think free range eggs,
locally smoked bacon, single source fairtrade coffee, instore baked bread and
Your food doesn’t necessarily have to be local, organic or
gluten-free to compete with the cheap restaurants, but make sure your food is
better. Offer hand cut fries, house made
sauces, a selection of non dairy milks, gluten free / paleo / vegan options,
and make sure everyone knows about it!
Offer Better Service
Offer the best customer service possible. One look at any Google review will tell you that customers value great service. They want to be warmly greeted by someone with a smile who appears to like their job. They want prompt attentive service as well as a pleasant relationship.
Get to know your regulars by name, remember how they like their coffee, add small personal touches when you can.
One of my most memorable experiences was ordering my regular chai latte and it came out with “Hi Chelsea!” written on the saucer, so memorable in fact that I felt impelled to take a photo. It is a small personal touch that gives you warm fuzzies and makes you feel like a valued customer.
Cheaper restaurants are usually looking for quick
turn-around. The more customer turnover, the more money they make. Yet, this
isn’t always the case.
Encourage your customers to linger. Keep your focus on what really matters, and that’s creating great customer relationships resulting in regular, repeat customers who sing your praises to all of their friends, family and co-workers.
Create a beautiful atmosphere that feels like home for customers, a unique feeling that can’t be replicated by a cheap restaurant. Give your customers an experience they will remember.
Stay in touch
The big guys collect email addresses, and if you aren’t, you
most definitely should be.
Give your customers a reason to subscribe:
Special offers and promotions
Invite-only events and tastings
Once you’ve got your email list, stay in contact. Build your
relationship and make it personal. Offer incentives, “secret” inhouse recipes
and cooking tips.
You’ll be able to track diners through the program and
remind them if they haven’t dined in a while.
Use your social media presence and blog to offer printed
recipes as well as video recipes similar to a cooking show, but much shorter. This is the ideal chance for you to
personalize your restaurant and make customers feel like they are part of a
special group or “family.” You are sharing something very special with them in
the form of a recipe. Going one step further with the video introduces
customers to your chef.
Get involved in a local cookbook or network with your local
newspaper’s food editor. Ask if you can be a guest blogger or contribute some
recipes. Exposure builds familiarity
with a potential customer before they even step through your door.
You can successfully compete with cheap with creativity, quality food, relationship building, great service and a few well-planned incentives.
We have all experienced it, a negative review has popped up on Google, Tripadvisor, or social media. And with that comes the risk of how it will affect your reputation as a business. Receiving negative reviews are unavoidable in this online age, but how you address them is key to protecting your reputation and impressing new potential customers.
These points are critical when addressing online reviews.
Don’t take it personally:
This is a tricky one for small business owners! This is very personal for you, but for the
reviewer they are responding to their experience with your business, just like
they would with any other business. This
is not a reflection on your person, it is a statement about their customer
Don’t ignore the complaint:
Once you have received a negative review there is nothing
you can do to have it removed, so make time to address it quickly – within hours
if possible! Ignoring the complaint is
the best way to show your customers that you do not care about their
experience, and are unwilling to address issues.
Find a way to use the negative review to your advantage by
showing your dedication to resolving the issue.
While no business can maintain a 100% satisfaction rate, you are showing
that you take customer issues very seriously and are dedicated to resolving
Remember that your response is on display not only to the
offended customer, but also to all potential customers that may read the review. Your image and reputation is on display, so
ensure that you are projecting an image that shows you are capable of
addressing complaints in a professional and caring manner; a quality that is
highly prized by potential customers.
Evaluate the Complaint:
Read the review carefully so that you can address the
concerns that have been raised. Gather
as much information as possible to assess exactly where the problem lies.
Do the complaints have a common thread? While negative reviews are hard to swallow, they also contain excellent information that you can use to grow and improve on your service.
Contact the reviewer:
Social media demands a response so reach out to the reviewer, ask them to email or message you so that you can discuss the issue with them personally. Responding with something like “looking forward to helping you, can you please email / message me more info”. This gives the reviewer an opportunity to respond to you in more detail in private.
This can also help you assess whether the review is
legitimate or fake. It’s completely
reasonable that you ask for verification if you’re going to refund a purchase. You want to see proof that they actually
shopped or dined at your business – make sure this is addressed privately.
For some businesses it may be impossible to tell if a review is fake, but if you do track your customers and can see that the person has never purchased from you then be transparent as you respond to the review. Google allows you to flag reviews that you deem as fake or illegitimate.
Resolve the Issue:
Sincerely apologise! Take
a deep breath and apologise even if you feel like you are not at fault.
Confirm the complaint to assure the reviewer that you understand the complaint. The first thing they want to know is that they were heard. If the person is complaining that their food took an hour to get to their table, start your response with, “I’m truly sorry that it took an hour for you to receive your dinner.”
Don’t make excuses, your first reaction is to give a reason
why. “We were short-staffed” or “it was an unusually busy day are excuses and
send the message that you don’t own the mistake. Excuses sound like you are
shifting blame and not taking responsibility for the mistake. Instead, say
something like, “this was uncharacteristic of us and we would like to make it
Take all reasonable steps to resolve the issue. If there was a misunderstanding, educate the
customer and offer something in return like a discount or refund. Show your customers that your business values
them! Your response to disgruntled
customers says more about your business than the positive reviews you receive.
About 95 percent of customers are willing to offer a
business a second chance if their complaint is successfully addressed.
Post a public response:
Follow up is KEY.
Make sure you comment on the original stream where the complaint was
After resolving the situation with the customer, add a
comment to the review, making sure to professionally identify yourself as the
business owner. Maintain a non-defensive tone when addressing the circumstances
of the complaint and detail your efforts at resolution.
Most important, remember that most people who frequent
review sites and look for your business on social media know that all of your
reviews won’t be perfect. Don’t stress if you get a few bad reviews. Show your willingness
to make it right and show everybody that you care about your customers.
Finally, watch for patterns. Are the same things being complained about? Negative reviews sting but they’re valuable feedback you can use to build a better business.
Apples: Prices remain high Pink Lady apples, new season fruit will come through in April. New season Royal Gala, Granny Smiths, Early Gold & Fuji apples are now available, supply and pricing is very good. These are also an excellent option for juicing due to price.
Avocados: The local Hass season is drawing to an end, supply is lower which is affecting prices. Shepard avocados will be available shortly to help bridge the gap until supply of Hass increases.
Bananas: Supply is light and prices are very high due to extreme heat in coastal QLD growing areas.
Beans: Short supply is affecting prices.
Grapes: The grape season is starting to near its end and taper off.
Mangoes: KP’s from Gingin are in season, they have a slightly greener skin than KP’s grown in Northern Australia.
Oranges: Locally grown Valencia oranges are in good supply.
Red Capsicum: We are seeing some quality issues in red capsicum at the moment, A-grade hydro grown are the best option for no wastage.
Sprayfree: We have locally grown sprayfree plums and gala apples available.
Stonefruit: The local season is in full swing, with excellent prices across peaches, nectarines and plums.
Tomatoes: Supply is short due to Eastern states shortages, this is having a big impact on prices.
Watermelon: The South West growing season has ended, supply is now coming from the Eastern States resulting in higher prices.
Asparagus: Currently being imported from Mexico and Peru, quality is excellent.
Navel Oranges: Currently coming from USA and Egypt. Quality is good and prices are very low.
Pink Lady apples: are in very short supply, with new season fruit expected in April.
Sundowner Apples: Season has finished.
Dill: supply is very inconsistent.
Coral lettuce supply is very inconsistent.
Drinking Coconuts: Nothing available for at least 2 weeks.