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Bye-bye baby

It's a marketing moment. It's a sweet note. It's a powerful brand impression. It's a point of differentiation. It's basic good manners. And it's an opportunity many operators miss. What is it?

A scripted good-bye and invitation to return.

First impressions are important, but final impressions are lasting. When employees know how to end a guest's dining experience on a positive note, you'll create word-of-mouth ambassadors. Of course, this requires a lot more than dropping change on the table and offering a simple good-bye.

  • Offer a polite and sincere "Thank you," along with an invitation to return. This second part is often left out. Give employees sample scripts that cover what you'd like them to say. Then encourage them to customize the farewell so it sounds natural to them and they're comfortable saying it. We've created some sample scripts with space for your own creative writing in both customizable and ready-to-use formats, so download your pick!
     
  • A personal connection to the server. We know that people don't buy from companies, they buy from people. Therefore, it's crucial to create an emotional connection to your guests. Give employees a stack of business cards, either personalized, or with a blank space to write in their name. The servers should say "When you come back, be sure and ask for me personally," and hand the guest their card.
     
  • Give your guests something to take home and remember you by. If branded to you, this can turn an ordinary custom into a delightful surprise. Instead of the predictable mint, try a unique candy, customized fortune cookie, or a seasonal treat. The point is to mix it up, keep it fresh, and make it sincere.
     
  • Don't forget that marketing opportunity! This is a great time to mention upcoming theme nights, special promotions or even cross promote day parts. For example, "Thanks so much for joining us tonight. If you haven't tried our lunch menu lately, you're missing out on the same great entrees, only cheaper!" (Just kidding, but you get the idea.)

Compare your business "good-bye" with how you treat a friend who has dined with you at home. Image how strange it would be to have your friends walk themselves to the door without the ritual farewells. After all, we are in the hospitality business.

See also:
You never get a second chance to make a first impression
5 tips to higher tips
10 commandments of service

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