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Is Your Restaurant Guest-Friendly?

Is Your Restaurant Guest-Friendly?

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SMILE: Adopt a guestfriendly culture and one-time customers will become regulars.

It costs about six times more to market to new guests than to keep a regular guest happy. A happy regular can be worth over $100,000 to your business. Isn’t it worth instituting a guest-friendly culture?

Having a guest-friendly culture involves more than just offering quality food and service—it involves being an easy, loose and accommodating place to visit. To understand the importance of adopting a guest-friendly culture, it’s important to understand the concept of the short-term and long-term value of a guest.

Many operators are preoccupied with looking at the shortterm worth of their guests—or one transaction during a single point in time—instead of looking at a guest’s lifetime value. Calculating lifetime values allows you to place monetary values on a guest’s yearly contributions.

To illustrate this point, consider this example. Your restaurant closes at 10 p.m. One day your loyal guests, Mr. and Mrs. Porter, visit your restaurant at 9:45 p.m., and your staff curtly tells them the kitchen is closed. That one-time transaction may appear as if your operation lost a single dinner tab of $50. But it fails to consider the lifetime value of your customers.

To calculate the lifetime value, you need to evaluate the couple’s monthly spending. Say the Porters spend an average of $200 a month. Over time, that comes to $2,400 a year, $12,000 over five years and $24,000 in 10 years.

To take it a step further, when Mr. and Mrs. Porter each tell five friends about your restaurant, then a total of 10 people become lifetime guests. Consequently, Mr. and Mrs. Porter’s 10-year value of $24,000 soon becomes an estimated total value of $144,000 ($120,000 when they each refer five people, each person having a potential lifetime value of $12,000, plus the Porter’s value of $24,000).

Now that you know that, insist that your staff keep your kitchen open and do everything in their power to keep guests happy.

Since Mr. and Mrs. Porter can together influence 10 people, and they are now worth $144,000 to your operation, take the time to examine your existing guest service philosophies. Honestly, ask yourself if you have adopted winning philosophies, such as the lifetime value of a guest, and properly trained your team to cater to your guests’ needs.

Are you doing all you can to encourage guests to return and refer others? Or, are your restaurant policies too restrictive, encouraging only a onetime stop?

In addition to offering your guests quality food and service, review the following list to help determine if your culture-and policies are established for your guests’ benefit or for your convenience.

Do you graciously:

  • Allow substitutions
  • Permit guests to make special menu requests
  • Give extra toppings or bread at no charge
  • Offer free soft drink refills
  • Honor an old menu price (as a one-time exception)
  • Handle separate checks
  • Omit plate charges?
  • Dismiss automatic gratuities at your guest’s request
  • Let a guest use an expired coupon/promotion
  • Take all forms of payment
  • Allow guests to be seated in a closed station
  • Place late-arriving guests at the top of the list instead of penalizing them?
  • Seat guests slightly after closing hours
  • Permit partial parties to be seated?
  • Upon request, seat a party of two at a four-top? Or, seat a party of four at a six-top?
  • Let a guest change a table?
  • Allow guests to add their bar tab to their dinner tab?
  • Allow two-for-one cocktails to be shared or split and delivered at separate times?
  • Handle complaint situations in favor of the guest.

If you answered “yes” to many of these points, then you probably enjoy repeat business. If you answered “no,” you may be losing guests. Since all policies are meant to be broken, you can easily change them and start winning back guests.

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