When a customer comes into your restaurant for the first time whether it’s a restaurant startup or a restaurant that’s been there for years they know nothing about your business. They know they are hungry and want food now. They don’t say it like that usually but that’s what they want. This is your only chance at a first impression which I know from experience can make or break you.
Customers are people that come in eat and drink at your restaurant and then leave and never come back. That is a customer. You need to turn that customer into a raving fan of your restaurant. The cheapest and best form of advertising is word of month. I have a few tips I am going to share with you that is going to help turn that customer you just let walk out your door into a cheering fan that will cheer your restaurant startup on to their death bed. If the Lions can have raving fans then so can we! I say we because we are all in this together.
Get To Know Your Restaurants Raving Customers A.K.A. Fans
I get to know my customers on many different levels. It is the easiest thing to do and it is probably the #1 thing that gets skipped over. It is easy to do. All you have to do is great them and dig a little deeper than “hi how are you?”
My favorite fans are the ones you can joke around a little with. You get someone to smile you have won them over for life. They come in you should know something about them that you can identify them with. For instance, we know when the gentleman from Hazel Nut street calls you are going to be on the phone with him awhile talking about his cat Elvis. He is an older gentleman and he likes to joke around about his cat, and how he bit the cleaning lady. We know what he is going to say, but we go along with it. He likes it. Sometimes I will even ask him about his cat before he brings him up. I have now identified with him.
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Another way to identify with your customers is simply asking how their day is, or asking them where they are headed or coming from. To you, it might seem like meaningless small talk, but to them, you took interest in their life. Taking time out of your day to get to know your customers will mean the world to them.
I do this every time I cash a customer out. I ask “Anything interesting going on today?” It’s a way to strike up a conversation with them. It lasts maybe 2 minutes, but I took the time to ask them how their day is going in a nontraditional boring way.
This sounds like a no-brainer right? Wrong a lot of restaurants I visit have a dirty lobby / dining area. It is the first thing people see when they walk into your establishment. This will determine if they bring the family back for a second, third, or fourth time.
Our job is to make our fans want to come back for a lifetime. We want them to rave about our clean dining area. We want are fans when they leave our restaurant to brag to their friends how clean the restaurant was. This makes it so when they are hanging out with their friends they talk about us none stop when food gets brought up. Face it people are going to talk and we want it to be good!
As soon as a table leaves we want to be out there wiping it down and clear the dishes. That is basic stuff right there, but go above and beyond do something that other restaurants don’t do. Put a couple of fresh mints on the table for the next guest. People will love it and they may even start coming to your place just because there are mints on the table when they arrive.
Polite and Courteous on the Phone
Do you remember the last time you ordered pizza on the phone? If you do, was the person polite and courteous on the phone? If they weren’t you probably didn’t enjoy ordering. I try to make sure everyone one of my customers when they order pizza on the phone has an amazing experience. It all starts with a phone call.
What I do is I don’t assign jobs for the night until I see what kind of mood everyone is in. If someone is having a bad day or their energy level isn’t where it needs to be I am definitely not going to put them on the phones or at the register because I want those people to be the ones with the most energy and in a good mood. I have sent people home because their energy level wasn’t where it needed to be for that day. Simply tell them you can go home come back tomorrow when you're having a better day. They usually don’t take offense to it and appreciate that you took the time to notice they were having a bad day.
When someone calls we have a set script by the phone. It goes something like this
Thank you for calling Dukes Pizza Plus of (city here) my name is (their name) how can I help you today? Because it isn’t always an order calling in sometimes they want to give you a compliment on their food or complaint or sometimes they are wondering where their food is. Then we ask for their phone number. After their phone number if they are in the system we say is this so and so they confirm and then we double check their address. Once we have their name I want them to use their name when addressing them.
I start turning them from customers into fans right from the phone call. It has worked for me and there is no reason it can’t work for you as well.
Imagine this your fans are going out with some friends and they are trying to figure out where to eat or what pizza place to order the babysitter food from, and you have created raving fans of your restaurant. If you have done your job and you have put the time in your fans are going to insist they order from your establishment. You win! It won’t be easy but it will happen.
Can you believe it? We are coming up on one month of Restaurant business advice. We have come a long ways in a short period of time. I want to thank all of you that help make this possible for me to be able to help you. Without you, there would be no me. Thank you!
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