You never get a second chance to make a first impression

The first impression makes a big difference. Make sure your employees know what to say and when to say it so that customers are not left with a lingering feeling about your restaurant. 

I'm frequently invisible and I'm certain you are, too. It happens all the time…

You're in the reception area of a hotel, at the front desk in a restaurant, or standing by the register in a department store--and it happens. People scurry by, other customers ask questions, telephones ring, employees laugh and talk with one another—and it's just like you're not there. No eye contact, not a wink or a nod of recognition, much less a verbal acknowledgment of your presence.

You want to shout "Here I am! Over here, near the front desk! I've got money! Please pay attention to me. Don't make me feel like I've made a mistake coming here." The phenomenon doesn't last long--but it makes a lasting impression.

This twilight zone of customer service, this Bermuda triangle of common courtesy, this black hole of marketing is everywhere. It could even be in your restaurant.

Here are some fast facts and situations to help you:

  • From the moment a guest first enters your establishment, you have a "magic 3 seconds" to make a first impression. This sets the tone for the experience to follow.
  • No need to speak—make eye contact and add a simple smile, nod or wink.
  • Once your employees actually open their mouths, make sure whatever they say is worth saying. Spare us the thoughtless clichés: "Two for dinner?" "Just one?" Write out scripts and have rehearsals. Owners, GMs and Hosts should be poised and confident.
  • It's everybody's job. Smile and repeat after me: "Some one will be right with you." That's it. That's all it takes to save the day.

See also:
Phone contact with restaurant guests


Bill Main is a nationally-recognized author, consultant and speaker. His company, Bill Main & Associates, specializes in strategic growth plans for foodservice entrepreneurs. For information on how you can grow your top line revenues through innovative marketing, menu, leadership and training systems, visit www.billmain.com.


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