Imagine you are reserving a table for a restaurant or cafe you’ve never dined at before. What steps do you take? Do you scroll through reviews on TripAdvisor, or Google Map the location to check it’s within walking distance? What wins you over- the steak or the offer of a quiet spot? Getting to know what your diners want will ensure they come back to your place again and again. Here are 5 types of customers you’ll find in your restaurant or cafe, and how to impress them.
1 The Couple
Providing great customer service does not always mean doing things by the book. And by this we mean, not every customer appreciates a prompt check back or the offer of a second beer. In traditional Brazilian steakhouses, a small indicator is placed by each customer to signal whether service is needed, by using a traffic light structure: “Yes, please/Go/Green or No, thanks/Stop/Red”. Although this is commonly used to accept or refuse more steak, we think it is a great way to avoid interrupting your couples tables.
Whether they’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary or Valentine’s Day, the dates couples remember are the ones where the ambience was romantic, tranquil and very intimate. To create this atmosphere, always start with the decor and subdued lighting. Incorporating candles, a rose on each table and shades of red into your restaurant can work wonders, as can – if you have a terrace or balcony – fairy lights and flowers for that fairytale feel. Soft music flowing throughout the room encourages conversation and greater consumption – which is always great for your profit margins. Impeccable service is a must too – ensure the couples’ drinks are always flowing – and they’ll be recommending you to their friends in no time.
2 The Foodies
Always on trend with the latest gin or suave-sounding vegetable, `foodies` are difficult customers. Or are they? Keep your menu vibrant by referring to popular food blogs online. One week might be sweet potato toast and the next a chocolate crumpet, but soon customers will cotton on that you are go-to for all things trendy and healthy. Play around with example platters and spirit tasting nights, where you can showcase the goods you have on offer. Ensure that you are well versed in dietary requirements; particularly vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, sugar-free and low FODMAP.
When it comes down to it, foodies are looking for adventure and surprise in their dishes, but they also tend to be ethical consumers. Driven by environmental and health concerns, another way to impress foodies is by highlighting the organic meats and non-meat protein alternatives that you offer, and even offering these foodies a chance to create their own meals with the ingredients that you provide. This collaborative approach will encourage creativity, and create a truly unique experience that very few restaurants offer. It’s also a bonus if these ingredients are grown locally – as support of local businesses helps to emphasise a community spirit that foodies just love to be a part of.
3 The Family in a Rush
Nothing aggravates a parent more than a hungry child and slow service. Banish this fear by creating a 15-minute menu, stamped with a guarantee that the food will come out within 15 minutes or your customer will be entitled to a refund. Ensure you train staff members about the cooking and prep times for each dish, just in case they are prompted at the table. In addition, host an incentive for kids to win a prize if they clean their plates without distraction. Alternatively, offer kids’ meals in adult-sized portions for a quick, no-fuss order.
But how do you accommodate children when your restaurant is mainly targeted at adults? Children don’t mind waiting for food when they have a distraction, so why not provide activities for your customers’ kids to do, such as colouring books, chalkboards and metal boards with magnetic words and phrases where they can create works (and words) of art. Another great distraction for younger children are game stations – simply set aside a corner of your restaurant and have a couple of jigsaws and games for them to play. The time will fly by, and everyone will have a much more enjoyable time too. Less crying and screaming. More playful laughter.
4 The Solo Diner
Be attentive when serving solo diners for the first time. Do they want a quiet meal, or will they appreciate the company? Once you know the answer to this, you can shape the service you provide to them. Offer popular dishes in small or large plates, and always ask whether starters or side orders should come with the mains.
Always bear in mind that for some solo diners, eating out alone can feel awkward and make them feel as if everyone is staring at them or judging them for eating out alone. Providing entertainment – whether that’s live music, a comedy act or literary reading – can refocus everyone’s attention, and give every single customer something to enjoy while they eat their meals.
5 The Regulars
Your regular customers know exactly what to expect as they walk through the door. As such, the level of customer service you provide should remain of a consistent standard. Work hard to remember your customers’ orders or preferred condiments, especially if they are likely to utter the words, `same again, please`. Refrain from up-selling your menu too much, as regular customers appreciate the simplicity of knowing what you offer inside and out.
And why not reward your regulars for their restaurant loyalty? Vouchers, coupons and customer loyalty schemes are always a great idea, as are birthday and anniversary deals that ingrain your restaurant or cafe in their memories. It’s likely that many of your regulars live locally, so partnering with local businesses for your stock and for charity events can make you a true star of your local area. It’s the little things that make a big difference after all.
Do you own a restaurant or cafe and are looking for insurance that you know you can rely on? From public, product and employer liability to stock and contents cover, with a policy from The Insurance Octopus, we’ve got you covered with our comprehensive restaurant insurance. Give us a call today on 0161 968 2060 to learn more about our range of options and why we’re the insurance partner for you.