Consistency is King
Customers should not have to spin the roulette wheel each time they visit your restaurant; they should experience the same quality of food and service every time. It should not matter which chef or server is working on any given day, the customer experience should never be a surprise. It is one of the reasons McDonald’s is the number one restaurant in the world – you know what you’re going to get whether in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago.
Consistency is the key to establishing regular clientele, and regular clients are the most important customers to have. Maintaining regular clientele is a critical factor in establishing a solid reputation that will attract newcomers.
Assuming you have hired the right employees and trained them properly, here are 4 points to focus on to ensure consistency:
Consistent Messaging - Your food isn't the only thing you provide your guests; you also give them an experience. A lack of consistent messaging can turn customers off and stop them from coming back. Your brand’s message has to extend to every single aspect of your restaurant, from the persona of your servers, uniforms, type of music playing in the dining room to the logo on your napkins. Also, all of your advertising, marketing and social media campaigns must be aligned to accurately depict what your restaurant is. Customers trust you to deliver on your promise and they want to know what to expect.
Consistent Food – Beyond reducing waste, as referenced in Measure by Measure, consistency produces the same appetizer, entrée and cocktail every time. For this reason, written recipes and standardized kitchen and bar procedures are essential. You want your signature Salmon entrée to taste the same on Monday night as it does on Friday night. Additionally, establishing correct production levels ensures menu items are available when your guests want them.
Consistent Service - Whether you are fine dining, casual table service, or a neighborhood dive bar, guests have certain expectations as to the service they want to receive. How guests are greeted at the door and at the table, when and how their orders are taken, how they are served and treated, are all essential “Steps of Service”. By having these service steps codified, and adhered to, in conjunction with your brand image, ensures a uniform delivery of your product. Great service is achieved by knowing the basic steps of service that guests expect and being able to repeat them time and time again.
Consistent Vigilance – You and your manager’s daily vigilance to the standards you set are crucial in order to ward off possible problems. This can be done by getting ahead of any potential issues through proper planning, training, and constant communication. All employees must know their roles, how to execute them and what to do should they run into problems. As discussed in our previous Blog, Are Your Pre-Service Meetings a Waste of Time?, pre service meetings are the appropriate time to reinforce your expectations and standards with your staff.
As an owner, you should know what’s really going on in your restaurant from the guests’ point of view. Consider using trained mystery shoppers from firms specializing in this service, or recruit your own shopper from your pool of friends, acquaintances and even regular customers.
Monitor and engage in on line review and social media sites, such as Yelp, Trip Advisor and Facebook to see what your guests are saying about you. These observations can serve as a way to identify where improvements need to be made and can be used to retrain, tweak and change as needed.
Great dining experiences can be easily cancelled out by one bad experience and one bad experience will cause a customer serious hesitation when deciding whether or not to return to an establishment. You have thoughtfully created a product and image for your restaurant. It is imperative that you preserve that identity. Consistently providing the same quality product can determine the success or failure of your restaurant. This does not mean that your product must be high end or gourmet; it just has to be the same product day in and day out.
Don’t know where to begin? 4Q Consulting can develop customized business and operational guidelines to help you start and run your business. Email us today for a free business consultation at www.4qconsult.com.
All original content copyright Noelle E. Ifshin, 2013-2014.