Franco Pardini of successful northern restaurant Franco’s shares his tips for keeping your customers happy as a new restaurateur.
The importance of good front of house staff
As a new restaurateur, staff will make or break the success of your business.
A well trained front of house team will ensure customers are a) happy and b) that they come back for more. Many new restaurant owners believe anyone can be a waiter. In my experience this is not the case.
Good waiters are among the most talented people out there when it comes to interpersonal relations. They are friendly without being overzealous. They can multitask, but still give customers their full attention. They are honest & trustworthy when it comes to dealing with money. And lastly they can work as a team.
Not much to ask then.
Some of this can be taught. Conducting regular staff training and ensuring all new staff undergo a thorough and effective training process will ensure not only a consistent but also a good level of service is enjoyed by all your customers. Investment here will reap rewards. Good staff will ensure increased sales and return custom.
Handling customer complaints
Now on to the aspect no one likes to deal with, customer complaints.
Handling customer complaints is an element of owning a restaurant that no one likes to deal with. However, regardless of how hard you try, things occasionally do go wrong. Food gets burned, orders get forgotten or your new waiter simply forgets all their training and makes a mistake.
Irrespective of the nature of the complaint, the fundamental objective is to try and make sure the customer walks away knowing that you have taken their complain seriously.
The customer is always right.
This is the golden rule of the restaurant trade. Even if you don’t agree with a customer’s complaint, how you handle it will determine if the customer comes back to your restaurant, leaves a damaging review online and whether they pay the bill this time.
Firstly listen to what the customer has to say, let them vent, they want the make their point heard. Secondly apologise. “I understand that you are not happy but ……” and offer a solution.
The solution. If a customer has problem that could have been prevented, the best option is to apologise and an offer them some sort of compensation. Giving them a free round of drinks now or a dessert may cost you initially but will be repaid when they return next time and the time after that.
Appreciating your customer
In general for every customer you encounter you must show your appreciation. Actions speak louder than words, and that is certainly true of customer appreciation. There are a number of ways you can show your customers how much you appreciate their business.
They don’t even have to cost you anything. A prime example is personal attention, especially by you the owner or your manager. When you have time wonder around the restaurant ask people ifeverything is alright and when people are leaving thank them. Ensure all your staff are trained to do this too will go a long way in making customers feel special.
The happier your customers are the more likely they are to write a review online, recommend you to a friend or simply return the week after. Prompt attentive service from friendly staff in an environment that is family friendly, should be your main target for your business.
You need to ensure that you make the most out of every guest. Assessing performance in important areas such as staff attentiveness, speed of service and order accuracy will ensure it is at the forefront of your staffs’ mind. Understanding guest attitudes (depending on the kind of restaurant you run) and the perceptions they may have along with likelihood they are to order certain items, especially with regard to regular customers will ensure a high standard of service is had by all and more importantly make the customers feel special and guarantee their return.