It's common knowledge that the economy hurt businesses of all kinds, particularly the restaurant industry. Going out to eat or out for drinks is a luxury that most of us had taken for granted until we became short on money. Some restaurants however, managed to stay afloat during tough economical times. Their key strategy? Stay in touch with the clientele. The easiest way to keep guests coming back (even when money is tight) is by making them happy and letting them know that your management or corporate team is listening. How do you do that? Easy - comment cards.
There are a number of things you should be asking your guests when they visit you and
once they leave. Guests that have a great time in your restaurant love giving reviews, but guests that had a terrible time love it even more. The goal is to make everyone happy and to get guests to come back. Here are a few things you should be keeping track of on a regular basis.
This is absolutely crucial to how well your venue does. Wait time in the valet loop, on the phone for to-go orders, at the host stand, in the bar, and at the table should be minimal. Nothing annoys a hungry guest more than waiting longer than necessary, especially when it's very obvious that it could be prevented.
- Questions to ask: Would you like the first available table (smoking or non)? Would you like to sit in the bar area (if seating is first come, first serve)? Would you like your soup/salad out first or with the meal? Are you going to want another glass of ____ with your entrée?
It's not uncommon that some of your staff won't want to work on a Friday or Saturday night, but their expression and tone shouldn't advertise that. Making sure that your staff understands that guests can read even the smallest gestures will likely make them more aware of their interactions with guests, and they will ultimately make more money for themselves and your venue.
- Questions to ask: Is there anything I can get you while you're waiting? Would you like a chair while you wait? Would you like a menu to look at until your table is ready?
If you're fortunate enough to have a busy venue, then you're already doing something right. However, making sure that your bar staff works quickly and efficiently will help to guarantee continued business. Guests are easily annoyed if they don't get a drink fast enough or if their bill isn't presented to them before their table is ready.
- Questions to ask: Are you going to be having any more beverages at the bar? Were you satisfied with your drink selection? Can I suggest a beverage to go with your meal?
Guests want to dine in a fashion where they feel like they are being taken care, and that doesn't mean they just want quick service. Making sure their dining area is clear of clutter, spot-free, and organized can make their experience more memorable. Just make sure not to neglect other parts of your restaurant, such as the waiting area and restroom. These are the first and last two places that most people see in your venue and you would be surprised at what an impact the cleanliness of these two areas can have on your guests' experience.
- Questions to ask: How would you rate the organization and cleanliness of the restaurant? How was the presentation of our venue?
Other than fixing mistakes as soon as they happen, a manager should make an appearance at the table almost immediately and preferably with a great solution. However, managers shouldn't only make themselves available when there's a problem. The more often a good manager communicates with his or her guests, the more likely those guests are to return and give a good review.
- Questions to ask: Would you like to let the manager know about your great experience? How often do you dine with us? Would you like for me to have my manager come over with a customer appreciation coupon?
More questions to consider:
- How would you rate your...appetizer? Beverage/alcoholic beverage? Salad or soup? Entrée? Dessert? Overall meal? Assistance in selecting menu items?
- What was your favorite food item?
- How was the overall presentation of the food?
- What was your favorite part of your experience?
- Would you recommend us to others?
- How can we improve our business/service?
- Do you plan to return?
For more information about restaurant management, foodservice industry tips, or questions about our products please feel free to email us at: