With consumers increasingly choosing to purchase prepared foods from grocery stores, cook at home with meal kits or order takeout/delivery, offering a world-class experience is key for attracting and retaining dine-in customers.
But beyond a winning menu and agreeable prices, how can operators ensure they’re offering a memorable experience with top-notch service for guests? Focusing on hospitality and maximizing the guest experience can be a key point of differentiation—and a way to keep guests coming back.
Treat each guest like a VIP
When customers visit any restaurant, they’re looking for an experience that makes them feel taken care of. From the minute they walk into the door, throughout their meal and even after they’re gone, they should feel like they’re welcome, appreciated and tended to. Work with front-of-house staff to ensure guests are greeted not just by asking “How many in your party?”—ask guests “How are you?” for instance, to start off their experience on a high note. At some establishments, owners or managers strive to personally greet as many tables as they can sometime during the meal to make a personal connection and check in on how the experience is going.
This level of attention is not only a great way to give excellent service, but it’s also a great way for higher-level employees to keep their ears to the ground regarding diner feedback—if there’s an issue, guests may be inclined to give their candid opinions to someone other than their server.
Don’t buy into every new hospitality trend
As technology becomes more ubiquitous in restaurants—with tablets at each table for ordering and paying, for instance—it can be alluring to sign onto new trends without first considering how clientele will respond. According to Technomic’s 2016 Future of FSR report, there could be a backlash against automation as customers crave more human interaction. While some consumers may love automation, others may feel it’s impersonal and takes away from their dining experience—for consumers who go out to enjoy a restaurant’s hospitality, the use of technology may be off-putting.
Instead of adopting the latest and greatest, carefully mull over decisions like this to ensure that they’ll fit with what your clientele wants out of a dining experience.
Maximize the tabletop experience
In fine-dining spots, where guests often plan their visits well in advance, the stakes are high. As such, fine-dining operators pay attention to every detail. Transferring some of their most successful tactics to casual dining restaurants is a great way to set a business apart from the competition.
For example, hosts and wait staff often gather as much information as possible about a guest to personalize their experience (for instance: Have they been to the restaurant before? Are they celebrating anything? Are they local or visiting from out of town?).
Beyond treating each guest like a VIP, operators can also take a cue from fine-dining establishments and elevate the tabletop service so that the casual dining experience feels more exclusive and desirable. For instance, using unique serving pieces or high-end, attractive dishes and flatware can provide a more quality experience than ordinary or budget tableware. Using memorable tableware can make a regular Tuesday night dinner feel more like a special occasion to the diner, creating positive connections in their mind and making the experience one they may want to revisit more often.
Elevating the overall experience for diners is what will keep them coming back time and again. Every restaurant’s clientele is different, and the restaurants that want to stay in the game for the long haul should pay close attention to their diners’ needs and desires, offering hospitality at every turn, with no detail too small.
This post is sponsored by Oneida