Looking to Improve Your Restaurant? See It Through Your Customers’ Eyes

Looking to Improve Your Restaurant? See It Through Your Customers’ EyesOnce something becomes familiar, we tend to lose our eye for its details. We’re surprised to find that the trim on our house needs painting or that our favorite black shirt is fading simply because we see it every day. In a way, we become blind to its faults.

This isn’t a big deal when we’re talking about clothing, but it can be a very big deal for restaurant owners. The food service industry is an intensely competitive arena, and if customers don’t like your eatery, they’ll have no problems finding another. So what can you do to keep your place at its best?

You need a fresh pair of eyes – yours, and your staff’s. Here’s how you can look at your restaurant and see what your customers see.

Be the Manager, Become the Customer
The key to this approach is to pretend you’re a first-time guest, even an out-of-towner. Start with a simple walkthrough. Is every area of your restaurant clean, including any outdoor spaces? Is your dining room welcoming? It doesn’t have to be up-to-the-second new, but it should be in good repair and reasonably tidy.

Next, approach the hostess, host, or whoever is the primary point of contact for newly-arriving customers. Are they friendly and eager to help? How do they interact with guests? Is this the first impression you want diners to have? This also applies to the employee that handles incoming phone calls. These people represent your restaurant, and they will deal with virtually 100% of your client base. Good communication skills and intrapersonal skills are a must.

At this point, you may also want to audit your technology and reservations systems. If you’re using tabletop ordering devices, do they still work well? Are they easy to use? Are they synced with your latest menu options? Do they get regularly updated and cleaned? Pull up your restaurant’s website. Does it need a fresh look? Are the menus and special offers still valid? Does it work as well on mobile devices as it does on a PC or laptop? Does your reservation system show tables are full when they are, in fact, empty? Any of these things can potentially lose customers.

Get Your Staff Onboard
Yours don’t have to be the only set of eyes involved in this exercise. Enlist the help of your staff. Some restaurant managers encourage new staff to eat at a restaurant several times to learn the menu and the general working of the dining room; take a cue from them. Have your staff experience the restaurant as customers and give you their input. In particular, get the chef out of the kitchen and into the dining room, eating a full meal or at least a complete entrée. Having the total experience, from start to finish, can spur creativity and help fine-tune recipes.

Often, travel writers are told to pretend they are a first-time tourist in their home town. It sounds silly, but it opens their point of view to things they may otherwise miss, good and bad. Doing the same thing for your restaurant will help you improve your customers’ overall experience – and your business.

About Ctuit Software
Ctuit Software Inc. was founded in San Rafael, California, in 2000 with a mission to develop and deliver Business Intelligence and Decision Support Infrastructure to the restaurant industry. Ctuit’s RADAR – extracts the critical data from sales, labor, and accounting that yields key intelligence upon which profitable business decisions are made. In addition, operational, financial and exception based reporting is available company-wide with the adoption of optional modules like GL Sales (financial reporting) Accounts Payable, Inventory, Recipe Management, Labor Scheduling and Event Management. With Ctuit RADAR – accounting, finance, marketing and operations departments can make changes to improve customer satisfaction, sales and margins. Ctuit Software is a private, employee owned company with its corporate office based in Novato, California. For more information, visit http://www.ctuit.com.