The restaurant industry can be a tough one to succeed in. It’s a crowded and competitive market, and diners can be difficult to satisfy thanks to having high expectations. However, don’t let that put you off! When you get it right, owning or running your own restaurant can be both rewarding and lucrative.
The big question, therefore, is how you can ensure that your café impresses diners and transforms one-off customers into regulars. This post goes through some top tips to help your restaurant not only survive but thrive. Let’s get started.
Choose a specialism
While some restaurants try to attract lots of different diners by offering a wide variety of dishes on their menu, this is often not the best tactic. Instead, consider picking a specialism that your eatery can focus on and build a reputation for exceling at it. This could be anything from Japanese cuisine to French patisserie – as long as you execute it beautifully. It doesn’t mean that your menu has to be static and boring either. Encourage your chefs to get creative with your chosen specialism and try to refresh the meals you have on offer every few months to keep customers coming back for more.
Perfect your dishes
If your food is lacking, nothing else you do will matter. Therefore, perfecting your menu is the most important tactic for impressing diners. To begin with, ensure that you hire chefs who are experts in your chosen specialism and provide them with any extra training required to get their skills to the highest level. Work with them to come up with a selection of dishes that are both delicious and beautifully presented.
It’s also crucial to source top quality ingredients for your chefs to cook with, as well as invest in the best equipment for them to use. That includes everything from the knives they chop vegetables with to the plates they serve the food on. There should be no weak links to let the side down.
Craft the ideal atmosphere
In addition to amazing food, diners want a pleasant environment to enjoy eating it in. That’s why you also need to focus on creating the right ambience in your restaurant. Some of this will vary according to your target market – for example, a café catering to families will have a very different atmosphere to a romantic restaurant. However, the key aspects you want to consider include:
- Music – soft background music, either from a live band or played over speakers, can cover the sound of cutlery being used and people eating while still allowing diners to have conversations comfortably
- Lighting – having dimmed lighting and candles (either real or LED) can create a more intimate feeling
- Layout – no one likes to feel as though everyone can hear what they’re saying, so ensure there’s enough space between tables for people to have some privacy
- Extras – if you’re catering to families, little extras like highchairs and menus that kids can color in or do puzzles on make all the difference
Consider a décor theme
In addition to a food theme, you might like to choose a décor theme to attract people to your restaurant. Again, the best choice will vary depending on your target market. Family eateries might like to opt for bright colors, whereas slick modern venues will look better with a more minimalist and monochrome theme. Whatever you go for, make sure to extend it to the kitchen and bathrooms so that nothing feels out of place or forgotten about.
Ensure your staff look professional
It’s not only the look of the building you need to consider, but also the appearance of your staff. Everyone from the waiters to the head chef needs to come across as professional and competent from the first glance. At the same time as being stylish, the uniforms they wear need to be fully functional and practical so that everyone can do their job to the best of their ability. For example, your cooks will need some ChefWorks.com non slip chef shoes and jackets with plenty of pockets. In order to keep staff happy and maintain a positive image, consider also allowing your employees some freedom to express themselves by wearing jewelry or having their tattoos on display.
Nowadays a lot of diners are looking for other experiences in additional to a standard meal out. Therefore, you have a chance to stand out from the crowd by offering other kinds of events in your restaurant. For instance, you could hold a special wine tasting evening, chocolate making workshop, or afternoon teas on the weekend. Another option if you have the space for it is to hire out a room in the building for private events such as birthday parties or office Christmas celebrations. Why not see how many interesting ideas your team can come up with, then advertise them on social media and your website to gauge interest.
Sell take-home products
Another way to drum up more custom is to sell foodie products that diners can take home with them. If you run a café, this could be baked goods like cookies and cupcakes. If you run a restaurant, you might like to consider bottling your sauces for people to use when they cook at home. One very simple option is to sell gift vouchers that customers can give to their friends and family, as this is almost guaranteed to bring in more diners and increase your revenue.
Strive to make diners feel valued
The standard of service that you offer has a huge impact on whether people choose to dine at your restaurant again – and what sort of review they’ll leave you. Encourage your waiters and waitresses to always go the extra mile for customers and provide service with a smile. However, don’t forget that as the owner you can also do your part by hiring enough staff. This will ensure that they are not rushed off their feet and can always give every diner their full attention. Plus, on nights when you’re in the premises, why not come out and check that your guests are happy with their meals? That sort of personal touch goes a long way.