The bare necessities: A retrospective

(12 /01 /2017)

I once worked at an establishment whose owner required artistically carved garnishes to be added to every plate that left the kitchen.  Not every meal was begging for embellishment mind you, but nevertheless there they were.  After all that meticulous planning and positioning often they would be the first thing discarded by patrons. This was however the vision of the owner and he would not see sense in removing such a signature touch.

It caused most frustration for the front of house staff as they bore the brunt of puzzled patrons comments. Not a good thing to have to defend someone else’s passion when you can’t understand it yourself. This sort of touch while kitschy and well meaning was not the best way to be remembered.

Many operators believe they know what their customers want but allow their overall creative vision to cloud their business sense. To obtain objective insights, take a step back and consider your restaurant from the customer’s standpoint.

It is vital that you connect with your intended audience.  In an industry where 60 percent of new Australian restaurants fail within the first year, you need to hit the ground running once those doors fling open to the masses.  Be open to feedback and be flexible to changes or run the risk of not making the grade.

So here are some hints to get inside the mind of your consumers.

  1. Ask your staff. Sounds simple enough but they are your people on the front line.  They have a unique opportunity to glean as much information on your customers likes and dislikes than anyone.  If you have regular customers that frequent your place, make sure that your staff know them too.
  1. That being said, the next point is focusing on customer service. If the customer feels like their needs and wants have been met they will definitely have more incentive to come back.  Little things to personalise their experience like welcoming them at arrival and thanking them upon departure nine times out of ten they are more likely they will return.
  1. If you have noticed a downturn in patronage already make changes immediately. Visit a restaurant that is excelling and take notes on everything they are doing.  Observe the differences and take it as constructive criticism.  You may learn something valuable along the way.

So go ahead and embrace something new. You may be glad that you did!

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