Restaurant Owners: The One Thing You MUST Do Now To Stop Losing Customers

Now, admittedly, between your daily responsibilities and your employee’s lack of enthusiasm, I know that it is not always easy to stay excited about training and many employees really only hear, “This is how we do things here,” “Know your menu inside and out,” “Be on time.” and “The customer is always right.” (OK, I simplified. But generally the training we offer servers can only be classified as procedural.) How do you take your training further and create a team of customer engagement specialist and put your sales and restaurant on auto pilot?

Easy. (Well perhaps a little effort will be needed since you are not a sales training expert like me. Hint hint.) Here is one method that you might try:

Based on discovery, I start training to each employee’s weakness. For example is Mike always late because of school? Is Mary usually trying to leave early because of her kids? Is Sarah a frustrated artist and ordinarily the one stirring up trouble or finding problems that don’t exist? Believe it or not, knowing what drives your employees outside of work is of utmost importance inside of work.

Now train your employees to over-deliver customer service, customer experiences, customer engagement, surpass sales goals, create referral, repeat clientele and reduce your employee turnover based on what your employees are trying to “get from their” jobs. Now that is NOT your typical procedural training.

Try training instead to Mary’s desire to get home early and with more energy.

Show Mary how to network in the neighborhood on her way to work, where she shops and talks with other moms anyway. Train her that telling everyone where she works and to come in early will actually get her out early and remembering customer’s names and preferences will save her miles of walking to tables.

You can incentivize her networking efforts so she can “Hook them Up” with V.I.P. service (Maybe moving them to a window table, buying them an appetizer or bringing the chef to their table or offering them off the menu items and introductions to the manager etc… ) Teach her that handing out business cards with her name written on and the best times to come to the restaurant for V.I.P. treatment (Early, when the restaurant isn’t at capacity) will actually get her out of the restaurant earlier and with more money because they are referral customers and she has more time to up-sell these guests.

Coach her that if she to creates an early seating of referral customers she will already be halfway out the door and home with her kids. Teach her that if she goes a step further and makes them “regular” customers she will already know their preferences and save her trips to her tables. She can skip trips to her tables and give that energy to her children simply by remembering a customer’s name and what he ordered.

You will actually be training Mary yo create customer experiences just by refocusing her attention from selling or taking orders to getting and remembering names.

You save Mary miles of walking when she can simply by say, “Good morning Bob! Are you having the usual?” from anywhere in the restaurant. (Once it grows to a great customer / employee relationship, Mary won’t even need to use words!)

More importantly you just trained someone to create amazing customer service instead of training them how to do your business.

Customer service sales training helps inspire your employees to want to create more customers and sales. Want to up-sell engagement as well as food and beverages and want to create extraordinary customer experiences. Try more customer service training and watch your team come together to create more sales, more profits and more customers.

Learn all the tips and tricks of amazing customer engagement and new staff motivation. Visit my profile for details. Your employees will stop waiting for customers to come in, stop settling for 20% tips and start utilizing the millions of dollars in assets you’ve given them to woo customers in during off-peak hours. We’ll help them see how much time, money and energy is slipping through their fingers every second of the day that their chairs are not filled and they are not creating amazing customer experiences.

Why Do People Start Restaurants?

Starting a restaurant has to be one of the most difficult businesses people consistently decide to open. Like most things with global customers, everyone thinks they’ve got the next great idea when it comes to starting a restaurant.

While a lot of articles will tell you that opening a restaurant is not for the timid, the fact is that with the right amount of persistence, you can do it. Here are the top five reasons that people decide to start their own restaurant:

1. They grew up in a family run restaurant

Just like how a coal miners son more often than not became a coal miner, or a an actor’s daughter decides to give it a go, having watched a parent or grandparent run their own restaurant gives people the skill sets and belief in themselves that they too will be successful. Nothing like seeing the same guy who can’t figure out that Internet Explorer is a terrible browser successfully run a Fine Dining French cuisine to give you the confidence to start your own.

2. They’ve already made a lot of money

The whims of the rich can be extravagant. And while not all of them can put their names on skyscrapers (looking at you Trump), they can live out their dream to have a steakhouse where friends and frenemies alike come to envy the perks of owning your own restaurant.

3. They’ve worked in the restaurant industry

Much like having grown up in a restaurant family, working in one as a waiter or manager gives you a good base of understanding to venture out on your own. While getting capital is far harder for these folks than the group above, these are the people who will tough through the grit to opening their own concept. Studies have shown that this group is also better equipped to handle the long hours and constant customer complaints as they have been living with it for most of their adult careers.

4. They have giant hearts

These are the same sort of people who get into teaching or social work because they want to share their love and make a difference. While opening a restaurant can seem less altruistic than say building orphanages in the Sudan, these entrepreneurs just want to put a smile on as many faces as they can. Remember how Monica from Friends just loved hosting the gang over at her place? This group loves the idea of cooking and making people happy.

5. They have giant egos

Speaking of Monica, remember how she always had to be in charge? Ya that’s a thing to. With opening any business on your own, there has to be an almost unshakeable belief that you’re the right person to do this. Which is why some restaurant owners have the stereotype of being the most egotistical people on the planet. And while this can be annoying to those with more modesty, the fact is that this group is able to ignore the overwhelming odds and advice and force the world to accept that what they have to offer is necessary.

Bill Parks works for My Owner Box, a company that walks people through how to start a restaurant.

Five Tips for Buying Restaurant Booths and Tables

The restaurant business is full of questions. Is Pepsi alright? Soup or salad? Cup or bowl? Wheat, white, or rye? Booth or tables? If you’re a restaurant owner, that last question is especially important, since customers’ choice of seating at your restaurant is every bit as important to them as their steak being done medium-rare or having extra napkins on hand when they’ve ordered gyros.

Research and anecdotal evidence suggests that preference for booths or tables for restaurant seating are relatively evenly split. If you don’t have or haven’t considered booths, there are some compelling reasons that you should. Families — especially families with children — tend to like booth seating because it helps to keep their kids corralled. Couples enjoy the sense of intimacy that comes with sitting in a booth. Some folks, especially if they’re the type who like to talk business, read, or write while they eat, appreciate the relative privacy of a booth.

Most restaurants will need a mix of booths and tables. With rare exceptions, tables serve a practical purpose. After all, you can’t just move booths if you have a leaky ceiling, an unexpected party of twelve, or if you’re accommodating a customer with mobility issues. With all their benefits, you’ll still need to take a few things into consideration when deciding how to incorporate booths into your seating.

Consider the size of your establishment: For some establishments like manufactured diners, with their mix of booth and counter seating, tables simply aren’t practical. For most diners and restaurants, from fast casual to formal, a mix is both necessary and desirable, since customers’ seating preferences can change based on the number of people in their party, their relationship to those people, and the purpose of their visit (business versus pleasure). You’ll also want to be mindful of where your seating is situated relative to windows, HVAC vents, baseboards or radiators, and even certain elements of your decor. If lines of sight are important — whether you’re operating a dinner theater, sports bar, or comedy club — be mindful of those as well.

Consider traffic patterns: There are a few considerations here. You’ll want to pay attention to how your customers interact with your space. Is there enough room for them to move comfortably through the dining area? Can they remove their coats without elbowing fellow diners or accidentally knocking over someone else’s shrimp cocktail? Is the area ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant? And think about your servers’ needs. Seating should leave them with ample room to move among tables, sparing enough space to move if they need to dodge a running toddler, a dropped plate, or a customer getting up from the table. There is, admittedly, a balancing act here: you need to maximize square footage to maximize profits, but you should also ensure the comfort and safety of guests and staff. Thinking about that now will spare you headaches later.

Consider the type of booth: Here, we suggest thinking about how the booth fits into the style and space of your establishment. Remember that booths that are wider will give your customers more elbow room and comfort. Seat height can also be varied depending on the degree to which you want to create privacy. Seat depth, as well as the length and width of the table, should also be taken into account. This will seem like a balancing act, and it is. After all, you’re trying to ensure a maximum of customer comfort in a limited amount of space.

Consider materials and cost: First, figure out what’s best for your restaurant. The formica seating and tabletops that are just the right fit if you’re slinging burgers isn’t going to give the same first impression if you’re doing fast casual Mexican, and neither of those approaches will sit well with the patrons of an upscale steak house. Once you’ve settled on a style, decide on your budget, leaving yourself enough room to tack on some additional money if you find a booth setup that’s perfect but costs slightly more than anticipated.

Try before you buy: There are a few key things to look for when you’re making your buying decision. Build quality is front of mind for most people, and for good reason; you’re in business for the long term, and your seating should be right there with you. Consider the dimensions of the booth relative to the size of your restaurant and (let’s be honest) the size of your diners. A feeling of privacy is good; feeling like you’ll need a can opener to get out of the booth isn’t. Also make sure that the booth is deep enough to comfortably sit back in, but not so deep that your shorter customers’ feet dangle above the floor.

If all of this sounds like a lot to consider, that’s because it is. Just like your customers, we know you have questions. We also know that those questions are a lot more pressing than, “Beets, peas, or creamed corn?” You’re concerned with attracting customers, ensuring that they’re happy while they dine with you, and — perhaps most importantly — making sure they come back, preferably with friends and family in tow… all of that while keeping an eye on payroll, expenses, suppliers, and so much more. We’ve been there, and we know the headaches that accompany the rewards of the business. If you have questions about booth seating, restaurant furniture, or restaurant supplies, call us. We can listen, and more importantly, we can help.

Tom Chuong enjoys reading and writing for the restaurant industry. He’s currently working on projects for Seating Expert Inc., a restaurant booths manufacturer in New Jersey. They can also customize furniture for restaurants, bars, hotels, and government agency.