It seems like some restaurants go out of their way to annoy customers. From nickel and diming to inflexibility and downright rudeness, some restaurant owners don't seem to realize that a few easy tips can go a long way to winning over customers who will provide great word-of-mouth and an endless stream of new customers.
1. Give Free RefillsIt irks me when I go to a restaurant and am charged for a refill of my iced tea. Charging for additonal water poured through the same tea leaves is poor business. Don't pinch pennies at the cost of annoying customers.
Give patrons a free coffee, tea or fountain soda refill. The few cents it costs you will go a long way. Nothing puts a smile on my face on a hot day when the waiter comes over and offers me some more iced tea. And remember, you'll save money by not having to re-wash the glass.
2. Be Flexible With Your MenuI hate seeing "No substitutions please" printed on a menu. Even McDonald's will accommodate special requests, so why can't every restauarant. Remember, people dine out for entertainment and relaxation. It rubs people the wrong way to see that the restaurant they're spending their hard earned money on is totally inflexible.
If the request is reasonable, like no onions or meat well done, accommodate it as best as possible.
3. Offer Customers A Special TreatWhether it's a little amuse "appetizer" from the chef when customers are seated or a homemade truffle at the end of the meal presented with the check, giving something to your customers goes a long way towards making them feel special. It doesn't have to be expensive -- just made with love.
4. If Something Goes Wrong, Admit the Mistake & Treat Your CustomersLet's face it, things go wrong. Luckily in the restaurant business, it's easy to fix most problems by apologizing to customers and buying them a drink or dessert.
From waiting a long time for a reserved table to a snafu from the kitchen, show your graciousness as a host and let your customers know that you have their best interest in mind. Include a sample budget line on your profit and loss statement and put aside .25 -.5% of sales/month for this item.
5. Have Something for Customers to Nibble On When They're SeatedMost people arrive at a restaurant ravenous. Kids, especially, can't wait to eat. Have the busser or waitstaff put something simple and delicious on the table when customers are given their menus.
Some restaurant owners think that by providing patrons with bread, olives, nuts, crudite or some other snack that they'll reduce their revenue because customers will fill up on free food and order less. On the contrary, it will give the kitchen room to breathe and make customers happy.