How to Make Your Customers Remember YOU

Customers in F&B industry are one of the most unforgiving people.  When they are served with bad food and bad service, they will remember it forever.  Not only they will never come back, they will spread the news to their friends and families. Even worse…. they can post it on the social media and ask strangers to boycott the restaurant.

Social media is like a double-edge sword for your restaurant business.  It can serve you as an excellent marketing tool but it can also destroy you with bad publicity.

However, when customers enjoy good (not excellent) food with average service, they tend to forget the name of the restaurants.  Have you ever heard people say,”I had this nice chicken sandwich at this mall but I forget the name of the cafe”?

Unless the food and service are excellent and they frequent the place, most people do not remember the names of the restaurants they dine in.

If your restaurant has the good food and great service, don’t you want your customers to remember and recommend it to their peers?

How to make them remember your restaurant?

By increasing the number of times your customers see your restaurant name.

1. Make the restaurant name visible at the entrance.

Yes, you have a signboard above your premise but walk-in customers can’t see it. The signboard is a few meters above their heads.  Make your brand visible by displaying it at the customers’ eye-level. You can put stickers, signboard, or bunting near the door or at the window.

2. The restaurant name should be visible from the inside of the restaurant.

This is the real story.  I was walking in a mall when I was this interesting restaurant.  I decided to go in and try.  A few minutes after I sat down, my friend called me and asked where I was.  I told her that I was at 1Utama mall.  She said that she was also there and she wanted to join me for lunch.  She asked me where I was. I didn’t know… I tried to look at the menu.  It didn’t mention the name of the restaurant.  I looked around the place to find its name, I didn’t see any.  I had to go out and looked up at the signboard above the door to find the name of the restaurant.

Imagine if my friend didn’t call.  I wouldn’t remember the name of the restaurant.

The visibility of the restaurant name can be achieved by putting it on the menu, printing it on the staff uniforms, printing it on sticker and stick it at cash register, making it part of the interior decoration, printing it on the plates, etc. They are numerous ways you can do to make your customers see your restaurant name.  The more frequent they see it, the more likely they remember your restaurant name.

3. Print the restaurant name on the take away boxes or bags.

Sometimes customers take away food for their friends or colleagues.  If the friends happen to like the food very much, they will ask where he/she bought the take away.  If he/she was rushing and just bought food from any restaurant in the mall, very likely he/she won’t remember the name of the restaurant.  By having the restaurant name and address printed in take away boxes n bags, people can see where the food was purchased.  And if they like it, they can easily locate the restaurant and pay a visit.

Thank you for reading.  I hope you enjoy this post as much as I was writing it. Have a great day my friends…

 

 

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Restaurant Issue : Increasing Your Customer’s Spending

I eat out a lot and when I do, I am usually prepared to spend good money for something I like.  As a mother of 2 young daughters who inherit my love for food, I have to be financially ready whenever I take them out for a meal. While I don’t carry a lot of cash, I have my credit cards anywhere I go.  By using credit cards, I don’t need to make numerous trips to ATMs.  I can also collect credit card points that can be exchanged for free meals in various fancy restaurants.

A few weeks ago, I went to a cafe for dinner with my daughters.  All of us were hungry and the menu looked good. We had two types of appetizers, three main dishes and three desserts.  The waiter was very efficient and friendly.  While waiting for our food, I looked around the cafe and I couldn’t see any credit card sticker on the door.  I started to panic. I called the waiter and ask if they accept credit card.  He said no.  I only had RM 60 in my purse and I knew the meal would cost more than that.  I told him that I didn’t carry much cash.  He told me there was an ATM across the street.  Reluctantly I left my two young kids unattended in the restaurant, brazed mad drivers who refused to let me cross safely and go to the ATM… Only to find that the machine was out of order.

I went back to the restaurant and told the waiter to cancel a few dishes.  Embarrassingly I apologized to him for not bringing enough cash. Fortunately he was cool with it.  He said I was not the first one to experience this.  Many customers didn’t have enough cash and had to cancel the orders.

At the end, the three of us shared two main dishes washed down with glasses of ice water.

I was ready to spend more than RM100 for the meal but I had to settle for less than RM60.  The cafe’s potential sales was reduced by 40%.  In a small way, that cafe had inconvenienced its customers.  The whole dining experience was “difficult”.

Imagine if the cafe had credit card machine.  It could definitely increase its sales.  With the current security issue, many people avoid carrying a lot of cash.  Most of my friends carry less than RM100 in their wallets.  They pay everything using credit cards too.

If your menu has meals priced over RM20 per dish, I suggest you to have credit card machines in your restaurant.  If American Express (Amex) commission is too high, you should at least accept Visa and Mastercard. It would be even better if you can accept debit cards too.

lady holding credit card

By accepting credit cards, you save your customers from embarrassment of not having enough cash.  You provide hassle-free and pleasant dining experience to your customers.  Instead of searching for ATMs, your customers can channel their energy to enjoy the food and your restaurants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Restaurant Frauds

As in other retail business, restaurant business is also prone to thefts and frauds.  Most restaurant owners encounter employee theft or cheating customer at one time or another.  No matter how well you think you know your employees or your customers, there is always a possibility of theft. Very often thefts are committed by unsuspecting employees. The person that owner least suspect is usually the one who commits the thefts.

Businesses nationwide suffer billions of dollars every year due to employee fraud and theft and the numbers are increasing.  Larger business can absorb a loss better than small business.  A lot of restaurant businesses are made bankrupt by thefts and frauds because owners fail to detect and act on the problems in a timely manner. Most employee theft comes to the attention of the employer when it is too late. Early detection is necessary to prevent huge losses.

Most big organizations have internal audit departments that create a system to prevent or lessen frauds in the company.  Most small businesses like restaurants or cafes often don’t allocate any resource for anti-fraud measures.  Because of that, restaurant owners are prone to be the victims of frauds and thefts.

The most powerful tool to prevent frauds from happening is by having a system that will deter the employees on committing any fraud.  Most frauds and thefts are committed when the employees know that the chance of getting caught is small.

While most common restaurant thefts are committed by employees, there are a lot of fraud cases committed by people outside of the organization.  Frauds committed by outsiders are mostly robberies, burglaries, credit card frauds, suppliers charging prices higher than what has been agreed, non-paying customers and stealing customers.

Below is the video on restaurant robbery caught by CCTV in Subang Jaya

restaurant theft in subang jaya

While restaurant robbery doesn’t happen as often as employee thefts, it can damage your restaurant reputation.  Customers will avoid your restaurant when they don’t feel safe dining over there.

When you open a restaurant, implement some safety measures on fraud prevention since day one.  Don’t wait until your audited report shows huge operating loses.

 

 

 

 

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The Importance of Consistency in Restaurant Business

A restaurant that has the right start-up has a bigger chance in success than those that start without proper planning.  However, the right start-up doesn’t guarantee success in the long run.  Besides continuous advertising and promotions, a restaurant needs to be consistent to achieve long-term success.  Without a dedication to consistency, failure is almost guaranteed.

To be successful, a restaurant needs to be consistent with:

  1. The Food
  2. The Service 

 

The Food

Most people go to restaurants to eat, to enjoy the food and to entertain their families and friends with the food served in the restaurants.  Regular customers will have expectations on how the food should taste in your restaurant.  Some even develop some kind of addiction to your famous Country Fried Chicken.  Imagine if one day your regular customers find their Country Fried Chicken have too much black pepper or saltier than the usual.  You may argue that you change your chef but the customers don’t care about it.  They come to satisfy their addictions to your Country Fried Chicken and disappointed to find that they eat something they are not familiar with.

I understand that chefs come and go in restaurant business.  However it doesn’t mean that the taste of your food has to change every time you change your chefs.  If you go to TGIFridays, Chili’s or McDonald’s, you can see how consistent their foods are.  I am sure they have changed their chefs more than they can remember.

The secrets to having consistent food are:

  • Standard Recipes

You must have standard recipes that shouldn’t be altered when the new chefs come in.

  • Solid Kitchen Procedures

Everyone has to implement the kitchen procedures religiously, from the cleaners, line cooks to executive chefs.

  • Proper Staff Training

Every new cooks or staffs should have proper training before being allowed to cook for customers.

  • Consistent Suppliers

The taste of tomato paste varied from one brand to another, so does the quality of your beef.  Changing suppliers mean changing the taste of the ingredients which will lead to changing the taste of your food.

 

The Service

Customers expect consistent service at all times because they don’t like unpleasant surprises. A consistent service means having uniformity in terms of speed, quality and courtesy in delivering the service to the customers, regardless of time and occasion.

Your customers will expect to be greeted the the same courtesy when they enter your restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  They will also expect their food to arrive after 15 minutes regardless whether or not your restaurant is having a full house or just serving two tables.

The consistency of service can be achieved when the restaurant has standard procedures that are followed by everyone in the organization.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Michelin Star

It was my dream to dine at a Michelin-star restaurant.  I am fascinated by the seriousness of food critics at Michelin in providing foodies a guide to have an over-the-top dining experience all over the world.

The Michelin Guide was started by the French tyre company to provide travellers a list of best restaurants and hotels in Europe.  Over the years, their “agents” travelled to countries outside Europe, resulting Michelin stars awarded to worthy restaurants in America and Asia.

For more than one hundred years, their food critics travel all over the world to award “Star(s)” to restaurants that provide exceptional dining experiences.  They award 1 to 3 stars based on the following criteria:

  • One star means the restaurant is very good in its category.
  • Two stars means the restaurant has excellent cooking and it worth detour.
  • Three stars means the restaurant provides exceptional cuisine that it worth a very special journey to dine there.

Michelin has been maintaining the secrecy of their agents that even their top managements never meet the agents. The agents are required to hide their identities from everyone including their parents, friends or relatives.  They are forbidden from talking to journalists and they are required to write extensive unbiased reports on their dining experiences.

On my last trip to Hongkong, I was fortunate to dine, not in 1 but, in 2 restaurants with Michelin Stars:

1.  Chilli Fagara

A small restaurant nestled on a hill of Lan Kwai Fong area specializing in a fiery hot Szechuan dishes.

I had never dined in any Michelin-star restaurant before. So this restaurant was the place where I would lose my Michelin-virgin status. I dressed up as if I were going to my first date. I wore my high-heels to pump up my smart-casual dress….. only to find out that the restaurant is very casual.  Although I felt a bit embarrassed to take out my “spare flat shoes” from my huge handbag, I was glad I could ditch my high-heels while walking uphill on the steep pebble-stoned road.

I had Vegetarian Dumplings swimming in fiery hot chili oil topped with deep-fried red chillies.  My lips and tongue were instantly numbed by the heat from the chillies.  I pride myself as being a chilli addict but I had to accept defeat when I couldn’t finish the dumpling gravy.

My next dish was the real test tough… My friend ordered 2 portions of their signature dish of Chilli Crab.  The crabs were cut into smaller pieces, dusted with seasoned flour and deep fried before tossed into piles of fried chillies and garlic.  Although my tongue was still numb, I could taste the spicy, salty, sweet and creamy texture of the crab.  It has such a complex taste that I can’t describe.  I felt tortured by the heat from the chillies but I just couldn’t stop eating it.  I had to order extra steamed rice and water to calm my burning mouth.

chili crab fagara

Fortunately the next dish was very friendly.  We had the most exquisite tender crispy melt-in-my-mouth Beef in Onions and Ginger.  It was so nice that we had to order a second serving.

The whole dining experience was really interesting. It was a numbing experience.

2. Lei Garden

I didn’t know that this restaurant was awarded 1 Star by Michelin.  I found out about this only after I was back in KL, googling about restaurants in Hongkong (yes, it’s weird that I did that AFTER I came back from the trip.  I can’t understand why either…)

We went into the restaurant at 1.45pm and we were told that the restaurant would be closed at 2.30pm.  We quickly ordered our lunch for fearing of being chased away while finishing our meals.  We had dim sum and soup as appetizers and ordered some beef, vegetables and noodles as mains. Most of the waiters didn’t speak English but they had one male waiter who did.  Since there was no explanation about the dish in the menu, we were clueless about what to order.  Fortunately the waiter was very patient, explaining and describing every item we pointed out in the menu.

The food arrived very fast and accordance to the right sequence : the soup and dim sum items arrived first while the rest arrived after we finished our dim sum.

The Shrimp Har Kau won me over with its fresh, plump, juicy and sweet large prawns. Dipped the Har Kaw in chili oil and I could eat it forever. I also love their braised Chicken Feet.  The skin and tendon were so tender and detached from the bones, making such an enjoyable slurping moment. The gravy was very tasty that I couldn’t resist wiping it clean from the bowl. The Hongkong Tao Miao was so fresh and delicious.  I didn’t know vegetable could taste that good…!! A meat eater like me could be satisfied just by eating a whole bowl of Tao Miao (again… drizzled in chili oil) with steamed rice. That’s how good the Tao Miao was. It’s the ultimate guilt-free dish to meet my daily quota of eating greens.

Back in KL, when my husband asked me about the experience of losing my Michelin-virgin status, I didn’t know what to answer… It was good and interesting but it was not what I expected.  After reading about the process of awarding stars by Michelin, I had very high expectations.  I expected to be blown away not just satisfied.  But again, taste is a subjective matter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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