The Holiday Dining Experience: Are You Meeting (and Exceeding) Your Customer’s Needs?
The holidays are upon us: Halloween has passed, Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, and Christmas is just around the corner. With increased retailer foot traffic, and shoppers short on time, the restaurant industry is about to dive into one of its busiest seasons, which means, it’s time to ask yourself the question, “Is my restaurant ready for holiday diners?”
With an increase in business, comes an increase in profit, but profit isn’t everything. The holiday season gives you the opportunity to make new customers and retain your loyal followers, all in one fell swoop. The key to taking advantage of the boost in holiday foot traffic and sales, is careful and strategic planning focused on providing superior customer service as part of the complete customer experience, so that you can retain these new customers after the holiday season has ended. Remember,
It takes months to find a customer, but only seconds to lose one.
The trick to keeping your tables full, is meeting, and exceeding your customers’ expectations, even during the busy and hectic holiday season when you may be short-staffed, and short tempered. Here, we give you some simple tips on how to commit your restaurant to superior customer satisfaction.
Have you ever entered a busy restaurant during the holidays, waited an hour for a table, another hour for food service, and thirty more minutes for your check? I’d be willing to bet all the ornaments on my Christmas tree that you probably didn’t return to said restaurant for a long time, if at all. It only takes one miserable experience to scare off what could have been a loyal customer.
To prevent long waits, and unhappy customers, staff accordingly by having extra hostesses, servers, and back-of-house staff scheduled for busy times. Add an employee to the kitchen prep period when business is slow, to allow your staff to prepare for peak hours. Yes, additional shifts can create stress for employees, but it doesn’t have to. Schedule servers for shorter shifts to allow them time to recoup in between. No one wants a grumpy server who’s been on their feet for twelve hours with little to no break. Happy servers, equals happy customers.
Use previous years’ sales to project the type and amount of food that will need to be ordered. Don’t forget to factor in catering events and private parties. Adequate inventory is a fine line between enough and too much. Schedule some extra time during the week to re-evaluate your inventory, and order additional items, rather than over-ordering and creating waste. Having that juicy, perfectly prepared prime rib could be the difference between a return customer, and a lost opportunity.
This term covers many aspects of your customers’ perception of your restaurant. Basic cleanliness always goes a long way. No one wants to sit at a dirty table or find the previous customer’s french fries on their chair. Take the time to visually inspect every table after clearing, and before seating your next guest.
Once you’ve covered the basics, take it a step further by warming up your restaurant’s look, and adding holiday decorations. This doesn’t necessarily mean the twenty-two foot tree at the local tree farm. Simple and elegant decorations will be more than adequate, if properly selected and placed. Red velvet and gold accents can give a table an inexpensive touch of holiday cheer that every customer will notice and appreciate, and is respectful of all the holidays represented during this season.
Simple modifications are key to creating “The Complete Customer Experience” that your customers are looking for during the holiday season, and will help you fill your tables time and again.
Adapted Creative Commons image courtesy of Bjørn Giesenbauer (Flickr)
Written by Teresa Glasgow, Technical Writing Specialist, Future POS, Inc.