In the foodservice industry, "The Wow Factor," as it is so often called, is the indication of a job well done for the chef, the waiter, and the operator at large. This industry is after all a service-based industry and is deeply rooted on the principle of delivering great service, professional expertise and a pleasant experience to the diner. Whether it's an amazing dish, a beautiful presentation, a friendly waiter or a jovial ambiance, there are a number of ways you can deliver "the wow factor" to your patrons time and time again. Here are some suggestions:
1. Over-The-Top Service
More than anything in this industry, making a great impression starts with having kind, attentive, caring staff who put your satisfaction as a top priority. Having a wait staff that makes dining out a relaxing, pleasant experience for your patrons is paramount, and little touches like remembering a customer's name, or perhaps a regular diner's usual order, can go along way. Service is very much a part of the dining experience and having upbeat employees on staff will help positively orchestrate the mood of the evening.
2. Customer Relationship Management
Having a CRM program in place at your facility is another great way to "wow" your guests. In this digital day and age, getting friendly email reminders about specials, coupons, unique events and other happenings is a nice way to invite patrons back while actively keeping your business name in the mind of your customer.
Many venues nowadays also have birthday incentives which invite guests to dine with them and enjoy a complimentary discount. All these things are not only a great branding tool for your business but they also have a positive impact on the feelings your customer base has towards your operation and the way you conduct business.
No matter where you are dining out, from fine dining to fast casual or quick-service venues, having a clean dining room and washroom has a direct effect on the customer impression. No one wants to eat on a grimy table or smell off odors or go to a washroom that's not properly managed. The cleanliness of your restaurant, bar, or foodservice facility is without a doubt one of the first things your patrons will notice when visiting. It is also one of the first things that will turn a customer off, and quick.
For all the open kitchens where patrons can see chefs at work, it is increasingly important to have the front of the house as well as the back of the house in tip-top shape so customers can rest assured that cleaning is adhered to and good management is a high priority.
4. Strong Menu
People have a choice every time they dine out and that choice is where they are going to eat followed by what they are going to order. Given the highly saturated restaurant scene in American cities today, it is important to craft your skill and feature a menu that is all your own. It's about finding a defining feature and showcasing that feature well. Chefs across the nation range in skill and expertise, but all successful chefs have honed their skills by mastering a handful of things that make their food memorable. Even your classic favorites (think: a hamburger, a green salad) can be made a popular favorite with the implementation of a defining sauce, dressing, or key feature. Find what it is that makes you stand out and prepare to "wow" your customers with it each and every time.
The overall ambiance of your foodservice establishment plays an important role in "wowing" your guests. For many fine dining establishments, the importance of this feature is emphasized even more, as restaurant operators comb through nice furniture selections, art options, elegant light fixtures, high-end tabletop accessories and more to set the tone. After all, the first impression is often made at the beginning of your experience (i.e. when you walk in the room) so having pretty lighting, elegant furnishings and a stylish ambiance plays an important role in locking in good sentiments from the first look.
Though very important in fine dining, ambiance generally plays a key role in designing a restaurant in general. Small "hole in the wall" venues with a mixture of different knick knacks can add to the warmth and character of a place and make it memorable to the diner. At the end of the day, it is about finding a mix of colors, styles, and objects that will work together to achieve the look you're after, and then share it happily with your guests.