Yes, they do! If your operations are lacking in providing an excellent customer experience, there is no point in wasting time and money on marketing... for your patrons, it simply isn't worth coming back!
You might say to yourself things such as:
- But it's always been like this and we're still in business
- We don't need new chairs and tables, a table is a table and a chair is a chair
- Bathrooms don't need upgrading, the toilet works just fine
But turning your head away will not solve the issue of customers experiencing poor service, bad food, hot/cold environment, paint chipping off the wall and the rips on the booth seats. No matter how much money and time you are ready and willing to invest in your restaurant marketing, it will be pretty challenging to drive more foot traffic.
Fortunately, the restaurants we visit and the restaurants we have as clients (Orange Hill, Templeton Landing, Whiskey Joe's, Jimmy's Famous American Tavern) genuinely care about providing an unforgettable experience to their customers. From the spectacular views to their food and presentation to the music and environment, restaurant operations are always under control. This makes it easy for designers and marketers like us to get involved with the brand and create powerful solutions for our clients.
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But, how do I know what's not working in my operations?
The most common issues in operations that affect your restaurant marketing and the overall customer experience are:
Your building: How does it look outside? If you have old windows, the building stucco is peeling off or if old ripped banners are still hanging from the roof, your chances of a good first impression are gone.
Poor or none in-store collateral: Do you have check presenters, t-stands or table tents promoting your latest signature dish or event? Make sure that all of your marketing materials follow brand guidelines, are kept clean and without food crumbs or stains and, for goodness sake DO NOT white out or scratch out prices or menu items with a pen.
Keep it clean: Make sure the tables, including chairs and under the table, get cleaned up completely after each patron. Windows should not have grease marks and bathrooms should ALWAYS be clean and smelling good.
Service: Unless you're in Europe or South America, where you know that if you go to a restaurant you're bound to wait for service and food, hungry patrons do not like to wait.
- Staff: From the GM to the servers to the greeters, make sure that there is a good internal culture for your staff, where they smile and are polite because they care about your restaurant and your patrons, not just because they're trained to do it.
Food and presentation: Food should live up to the type of restaurant, the environment and, most importantly, the price. While speed and service is important, food flavor and presentation should be of precedence.
If you see that any of these points apply to you and your restaurant, make sure to stop, take a few steps back and start looking at the big picture. In order to have effective restaurant marketing initiatives, your operations need to reflect that you care about what you do and offer. Put yourself in your patrons' shoes and try to, objectively, identify what they see inside and outside of your restaurant. This simple exercise can help you get back on track and start winning brownie points with all of your customers.