When customers go out to eat, they want to feel welcome. Pampered. Entertained. Special. It is our duty to make them feel that way. We are in the hospitality business, after all.
Create a culture
As I have said on many occasions–it starts with you! You have the ability to create this culture. Go in to it from the very beginning setting this up as the expectation.
If you do this, the staff will follow. I have stressed this to a current consulting client. The location of this particular restaurant makes it even more important to have this kind of culture. There are only so many people living and working around them to draw from.
I am happy to report that they have successfully done so. Sure, the servers are a bit green, clearly lacking in experience. However, the customer doesn’t care. The customer will happily trade a server who knows every nuance of each wine, the menu inside and out, but who also happens to come across a bit snobbish, for someone who is eager and enthusiastic.
There is a lot to be said about a server who is truly there to meet the needs of the customer. A customer can forgive a server who doesn’t know the difference between a Barolo and a Barbaresco. Or a server who can’t tell you why some rum is clear, and some is dark. If they are at least trying.
And with a smile
Maybe the server doesn’t know these differences, but are they willing to go find out? I will always take this answer: “Gosh, I am sorry, I am not sure. Let me go find out…,” versus the server who makes stuff up just so they don’t look bad.
So, say hello. Every time. Even if you don’t know them. Especially if you don’t know them. Learn their name. Use their name. Train your staff to use their name. Make them feel at home.
I have many times mentioned my favorite restaurant in the world. Vij’s in Vancouver, B.C. He can always be found on the floor chatting up customers. “So nice to see you again…” Even though I know he could not possibly remember me, it still leave quite an impression.
Want them to come back? Want them to come back more often? Want them to bring different people in with them? Want them to continue to spend money at your restaurant?
Creating a positive culture is a great starting point.