Anyone who’s attempted to make a restaurant successful can tell you it’s not easy. Restaurants often have to deal with low-profit margins, difficult operating conditions, and no shortage of local competition. Even if you have amazing food and good people serving it, there’s a chance you may not be able to make things work.
One of the most important variables in this equation is your restaurant’s reputation. If you have a reputation of being a great place to eat with good value for the money, word of mouth will spread and you’ll gain popularity as a result. But if you have a better reputation, or if you don’t have any reputation at all, you could end up stagnating.
Ways to Boost Your Restaurant’s Reputation
So what steps can you take to improve the reputation of your restaurant from the ground up?
1. Prioritize Cleanliness
One of the best things you can do is prioritize cleanliness. When people go out to eat, they want to have confidence that their food is being prepared and served in a hygienic manner. If they see an excessive amount of dirt or grime, or if they get the impression that this establishment doesn’t particularly care about cleanliness, they’re going to leave with a bad attitude and possibly leave a bad review.
Obviously, this means you should pay attention to the cleanliness and hygiene of your establishment and your workers. But it also means making upgrades that allow your business to be perceived as cleaner and that makes cleaning easier. For example, restaurant wall panels are easy to install and easy to clean, and they make your entire establishment look cleaner as well.
2. Serve Great Food
You can’t make a restaurant successful unless you serve good food. This should be intuitive. However, most people get something subtly wrong about this concept; they think that if they serve food they genuinely enjoy, that’s good enough. This isn’t about you; this is about your customers. You have to serve food your customers genuinely enjoy if you’re going to make it.
3. Make Up for Bad Experiences
Every restaurant is going to have bad experiences from time to time. You might serve the wrong food to an angry customer. You might have to make some impatient people wait during a busy period. You might also be out of someone’s favourite food. When this happens, don’t stress too much about it. Just make up for the experience with a polite apology, an explanation for how you’re going to do better, and a small bonus (like a gift card).
4. Give Freebies and Rewards
Give freebies and rewards to your patrons, especially if they are loyal and regular customers. Giving a free dessert to someone will make the experience unforgettable and make them much more likely to recommend your restaurant to another person in the future.
It will also all but guarantee they eventually come back to this establishment. Obviously, you can’t blow your budget on free giveaways all the time, but small additions here and there can make a powerful difference.
5. Make the Experience Personal and Unforgettable
As much as possible, make customer experiences personal and unforgettable. Your food may be extraordinary, but if the waiter who serves it he’s dull and uninterested in providing a good experience, it could ruin the entire evening. Make sure you give each guest a warm and inviting experience and provide ample conversation to those who want it.
6. Encourage Online Reviews
These days, restaurant reputations are often governed by online reviews. The more reviews you have, and the better quality those reviews are, the more attention you’re going to get and the more patrons you’re going to serve. Don’t hesitate to ask your customers directly for reviews in the restaurant; you can’t bribe your customers to leave a review, nor can you manipulate the reviews they submit, but there’s no harm in raising awareness at your restaurant is eager to get more people leaving reviews.
7. Listen to Your Customers
Finally, listen to your customers. If there’s something wrong with your restaurant that’s preventing it from getting a better reputation, they’re probably going to be willing to tell you about it. Use a mix of surveys and personal conversations with your best customers to get a feel for how your restaurant is operating and what you could do to improve. If multiple customers complain about something, it’s a strong sign you need to fix it.
Managing your restaurant’s reputation demands almost as much work as keeping the restaurant operational while making food for your customers. But if you can make the investment and continue to boost your restaurant’s reputation regularly, eventually you’ll be in a much better place to support your recurring customers and continue expanding to new areas and new people.