The hungry consumer is faced with a myriad of options when choosing where to dine. What makes your restaurant stand out? Do you have the world’s “best” apple pie or filet mignon? Chances are others have similar claims. People will forget your taglines, but they won’t forget the feelings invoked by dining in your restaurant. The following are important practices to cultivate, to ensure your guests walk out of your restaurant with goodwill.
Treat Your Staff Well
Before creating and implementing a host of procedures to ensure that your guests have a positive experience at your restaurant, there’s a group of people you must attend to first: your staff. No matter how ingenious your plans are for developing an inviting atmosphere for your guests, they will be fundamentally flawed if you don’t first create an environment that supports healthy working habits. It starts with on-boarding. In addition to work history, a primary parameter you should focus on is character. Does your applicant present with a good attitude and strong character. One bad apple is enough to drag down the whole group. Next, lead rather than direct. Don’t make your staff do anything you wouldn’t do. Loyalty is hard won and priceless. Invest in your staff and you won’t be disappointed.
One of the first things your staff should be made aware of is appropriate body language. Bodily gestures are an innate language we all speak, to varying degrees of success. For some people, engaging mannerisms come naturally, such as smiling and making appropriate eye contact. For those for whom this does not come naturally, practice makes perfect. There are no substitutes for a warm and sincere smile. It instills confidence and goodwill, which are both desirable reactions in a dining scenario. Depending on your resources, share literature or include appropriate body language training in your on-boarding protocols. Your guests will come for the food and stay for the people.
Studies show that hearing one’s name stimulates a strong neural response. In the dining setting, your staff can build rapport by learning the names of your guests and addressing them accordingly during their time at your restaurant. Addressing patrons by name should not be forced, but it is a powerful way to establish a sense of a real relationship between your staff and your guests. It might seem like a stretch, but relationship building is important in the restaurant setting. People need to eat to live. Give them a reason to choose your restaurant over their gamut of other options.
In summary, it’s important that your guests feel as though their patronage is appreciated. And that is achieved by supporting the people creating the dining environment and adding gestures that build rapport between your staff and guests. Successful restaurants build a positive culture as they build their brand. Don’t leave your humanity at the door when you enter your restaurant; magnify it.
Challenge: Ask your staff how you can better support them.
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