First-time guests to your restaurant need a reason to come back. Your food may be exceptional, but restaurant guests want more from their experience than just great good. If you’re searching for tips on how to impress first-time customers, the following tips are great ways to create value for your guests.
Tips to Help Create Value for First-time Guests:
1. Ask About the Food Before Putting in the Order
Guests want good food, but the person’s definition of “good” can vary dramatically. You might have 100 guests that love their steak medium-well, but this one guest may prefer a very well-done steak.
You don’t want to leave anything to chance during the ordering process.
Train your staff to:
- Ask how meats should be cooked
- Ask if any items should be kept out of the dish
Knowing how the customer prefers their meat – or other foods – will help make the experience memorable. Guests will appreciate the extra effort on your staff’s part to ensure that the meal is perfect.
2. Ask About the Food After the Meal
It may seem like common sense for some restaurants, but many don’t take the time to learn how the patrons liked the food they just ate. Don't be afraid to ask your guests:
- What they think of the food
- What they may have changed
Immediate feedback is good to receive and something that can make your restaurant a must-visit-again establishment.
3. Train Staff to Offer Smart Pairing Options
You need to train your staff on how to create the customer experience you want for your guests. Training is going to be a necessity for all new employees and on a continuing basis as your customer experience and how you create first-time value evolves.
However, one of the things that the patrons of today truly appreciate is recommendations from waitstaff.
You may recommend:
- Wine pairings
- Alternative drink options for someone who wants to try something new
- Perfect side dish or dessert pairings
Many of your long-term staff may have the knowledge to recommend these pairings, but some will not have this knowledge. It's up to you to train staff and help them learn which pairings work best with the food items you have in your restaurant.
4. Welcome Guests to a Restaurant
Welcoming guests in a restaurant needs to be one of the first things you focus on. You may not know how to properly welcome customers in a restaurant, and the process is rather simple. First, you’ll want to welcome every guest with a standard welcoming, such as “Welcome to Best Eatery. How many people will be dining with you today?”
However, this is a greeting for a first-time customer.
If you have someone with a reservation, you can greet them differently to make them feel like special guests. For example, you may consider something along the lines of “Hi Mr. Jones, our team is awaiting your arrival and has prepared the best table in the house for you.”
Once the person becomes a repeat customer, you may consider changing your welcome to be more personal.
For example, “Hi Mr. Jones, it’s a pleasure to have you back in our restaurant. Would you like your normal table?”
Greetings go very well with the atmosphere of the restaurant, too.
5. Create a “Come Back” Atmosphere
What is the atmosphere in your establishment? Some restaurants focus all of their efforts on their food and forget about the atmosphere entirely. You must create an atmosphere that guests will love, which includes:
- The right welcoming experience
- Music to set the mood
Many restaurant guests are looking for a “vibe” that they like in a restaurant. It's up to you to figure out what your customers may prefer and to provide the atmosphere to bring customers back again and again.
6. Provide Themes and Memorable Moments
Themes and memorable moments are growing in demand in the restaurant industry. Many customers are looking for those “Instagram moments,” and it’s become an integral part of marketing for hip restaurants.
You can help create these moments and really “wow” first-time customers by doing a few things:
- Create a focal point for picture-taking
- Focus heavily on the restaurant’s presentation
- Work on theme nights every once in a while
If you begin to provide themes and memorable moments, you’ll “wow” many first-time customers and market your business in new and exciting ways.
You can even ask guests what theme nights they may appreciate.
7. Ask for Feedback
Greeting guests in a restaurant and working to do “everything” right is a good start, but this practice doesn’t allow you to get to know what guests really want. Instead, you need to learn what could be better, and who better to ask than your guests?
Allow guests to leave anonymous feedback on:
Feedback is one of the best ways to learn what customers really want you to change or adapt. A single form of feedback can help you make positive changes that all guests will come to appreciate.
Avoid the Restaurant Discount
One of the ways that restaurants used to keep customers happy is by offering massive discounts. If you have any of the following, you’ll need to rethink your approach:
- Restaurant discount coupons
- Restaurant discount apps
- Discount restaurant certificates
Discount restaurant coupons were once very popular, but unless you’re offering very small perks, such as a free coffee, these restaurant discount cards should be avoided at this time. The main issue is that with inflation and higher costs, it’s difficult to maintain healthy profit margins without raising prices.
If you want to provide discounts, you’re going to reduce your profit margins.
We recommend avoiding the discounts for the time being and begin working on how to welcome a customer in a restaurant rather than reducing your revenue and stressing your profits.
If you follow the advice above, you’ll help create the first-time value that keeps customers coming back to your establishment.
And you won’t need to force customers back to your business with steep deals.