11 Gimmicks to WOW your Restaurant Patrons

Do you want a steady stream of new patrons dining at your restaurant?

We’ve got some fresh, fun and low-maintenance restaurant gimmicks to help you WOW your restaurant guests.

Read on to find out exactly how to build a happy and loyal customer base. We guarantee that these gimmicks are super simple to implement.

So let’s begin…

 

1. Facilitate Online Reservations

OK confession time: Do your customers have to queue or make long endless phone calls to make reservations? Let me say this straight: If you answered ‘yes’, you are losing out – you are not making their experience effortless and enjoyable.

Now, listen to this very carefully: you need to put your restaurant at your customer’s fingertips through an online booking system. This automation option allows you to;

Run your operations efficiently: There is zero chance of human error as opposed to phone calls. Plus, with a few clicks your customers can easily search and select the menu options. Additionally, you can send follow up emails, text messages and build an email list for your marketing strategies.

Attract new customers: If you provide a convenient, easy-to-use online booking solution, customers will always prefer your services. Also, you’ll be better placed to reach a wider audience and attract new customers.

2. Master the Art of Upselling

Ask yourself this question: Are you upselling ‘too much’ or are you not upselling enough? Upselling is an art that has to be delicately balanced; you’d want to offer helpful suggestions to your customers but not annoy them while you’re at it. If done correctly, upselling will boost your revenue and impress your customers.

Often, they will appreciate your thoughtfulness of going the extra mile to suggest menu items that they wouldn’t have thought to order on their own.

Here are a few tips;

  • Position your menu items strategically in order to naturally persuade the customer to order complimentary items.
  • Make the upsell enticing by training your staff to be more convincing. Nicole Kelly of Restaurant & Catering Association suggests having a staff competition on upselling. You can offer a bottle of wine (that you have received as bonus stock) as an incentive for the staff member that sells the highest yield dish.
  • Pay close attention to customer cues.
  • Take advantage of tools like online ordering to upsell. Conveniently featuring digital menus with clickable elements can entice customers. Also, clever mentions such as “customers that ordered this, also ordered…” is an effective upsell technique.
  • Do not close the guest’s bill too early. Never assume they are done.

Always remember that good upselling is almost undetectable.

3. Communicate Effectively with Employees

Your employees are an integral part of your business. Demonstrate that to them by ensuring that they have basics such as clean and neat uniforms and that their health and wellness needs are being met.

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Also, strive to have an open dialogue with your staff. Let them know your plans for the business, sales performance and bottom line. Short meetings before each shift would be ideal.

4. Retain First Time Customers

Train your staff to be on the lookout for first time customers. Provide them the best service possible. It’s the first and only chance you’ve got to make a good first impression – give them the warmest welcome. Here are some points to keep in mind;

  • Say “Thank You” and ask them to visit again soon. Hand them a discount coupon to use on their next order
  • Get their valuable feedback to help you improve your restaurant
  • Consistently reach out to them with useful and relevant updates
  • Let them know that you care by sending them birthday wishes

5. Keep the Freebies Coming

WOW your customers by giving away free food when introducing a new menu item or service. If they love it, they may just order this item. Some other ideas are;

  • Surprise a regular customer with an unannounced gift
  • Offer customers sneak previews of upcoming services and menu additions
  • Deliver an appetizer or dessert on-the-house
  • Give customers pre-packaged food at the end of the meal
  • Showcase a customer’s music, art, published work etc. at your restaurant

Freebies versus discounts provide unrivalled value for customers.

6. Music and Food: A Match Made in Heaven?

Play the right music for the right purpose to achieve your intended effect. And that could include;

  • To accompany and enhance the food
  • Create the perfect ambiance
  • Influence menu choices
  • Make customers eat faster to increase table turnover

Learn more on the psychology of restaurant music to help you give your patrons the perfect dining experience and have them coming back for more.

7. Wine to Dine Specials

Invite your customers to help you select new wines on your wine list for a seasonal change. Also, on a slow season, consider collaborating with local wineries for a special wine event.

Another great idea from Nicole Kelly of Restaurant & Catering Association is to use bin-ends as a special ‘wine-by-the-glass’ to move stock no longer listed. Thus getting a return on unused stock, while offering variety for your guests.

8. Liven Quiet Days

Slow seasons are inevitable, but you can do something about it;

Offer a themed breakfast, lunch or dinner menu: On slow seasons throw themed parties to boost your business. Rave about it on social media to get the word out.

Instagram food of the day: Create a catchy name for your daily specials and promote them on Instagram.

9. Set up or Join Food Markets

Use food markets and food bazaars to help you get discovered by a whole new demographic. Set up one or find one in your area. This collaborative selling approach will help you network and in the process attract more customers.

10. Bring Your Own Night

If you don’t serve alcohol, you could organise a bring-your-own night.

11. Offer a Take Home Option

If you are a sit-down restaurant, offer your customers the flexibility to opt for taking away meals. Package the meals properly for travel along with the heating and serving instructions.

The Secret Sauce

Wouldn’t it be great to have your restaurant fully packed with happy patrons? Now you have the secret sauce. All you have to do now is try out these fun gimmicks.

But wait there’s more. We’ve got a list full of compelling ideas to help you run a sustainable restaurant business. So go ahead and check them out.


Photos courtesy of:
Flicker Images by Mo Riza
Unsplash Images by rawpixel
Unsplash Images by Claudia Romero-Dneprovski
Pexels Images by Snapwire
Pixabay Images by larsen9236

5 Brilliant Tips for Building Your Dream Restaurant

According to IBIS World research, 24,440 restaurants were opened in Australia from 2013 – 2015.

This shows how competitive the food business really is. Either way, don’t let that number scare you. Competition is not necessarily a bad thing.

Competition is often pushing other businesses to be better, smarter and more efficient. The cleverest way to observe your competition is to use it as motivation for your business growth and, why not – an inspiration!

This doesn’t mean you should copy other people’s ideas. Every business owner needs to find their place on the market in order to prosper. Don’t be impatient if you are not getting your Michelin stars after your first week of business.

Nobody is having too much fun if their business investment is not providing sufficient income. To avoid this from happening, you need a good plan. Therefore, the best way to start is to create a well-functioning, sustainable and effective business plan. Your business plan needs to be tailored to your own idea, resources and abilities.

Nevertheless, there are some common rules that are applicable to almost all restaurant business plans. Let’s talk about these 5 brilliant tips that will work on your plan, as well.

1. Build a Trustworthy Team

We already suggested you should track the work that has been done, but you should also make sure that you find loyal employees to begin with. You have to use your common sense when meeting your candidates for the first time and go with your feeling, but there are also some facts that you can take into consideration when hiring your staff. Here are some:

  • People with consistent employment history are more likely to be loyal.
  • There is a large portion of people over 45 years of age that are among the most loyal employees

  • Potentially loyal employees don’t bad mouth their previous employers and are honest about the reasons for leaving their previous workplace.

The next step is to build a relationship based on trust and respect. You can work on your employee loyalty in several ways and here are some ideas that you can incorporate in your work policy:

  • Ensure clear and open communication with your employees
  • Provide valuable feedback in a positive and encouraging manner
  • Enable different employment opportunities
  • Consider offering flexible hours and shift assignments
  • Offer nice and tailored uniforms to build team spirit

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2. Be Meticulous About Your Finances

How do you even know if you are making money with your business? It is obvious from your reports, isn’t it? So why don’t you make more reports? You can introduce different types of reports to make sure every dollar you invest is well spent and accounted for.

You can introduce a menu item sales report that shows which ingredients are the best sellers. In that way, you are able to plan your meals more efficiently and offer people the dishes they really want to order.

For example, you may notice that a significant number of your customers order chicken-based meals. This information can help you plan your next menu item and you can make sure to include chicken in it. You can use this calculator to find out how much that item will cost you.

Groceries are not the only items that cost you money. You also need to pay your employees. To have decent workers, you need to pay them decent wages. Consequently, you need to make sure you are getting your money’s worth.

Introducing an hourly labour report doesn’t mean you distrust your employees. It will help you see what needs the most work and how many members of the staff you really need. This will let you see if your team is working 100% efficiently.

3. Figure Out a Winning Marketing Formula

The best possible marketing formula for your restaurant needs to involve both offline and online efforts.

Both of these need to be elaborated in your restaurant business plan. Build good relations with your returning customers by creating loyalty programs or offering them birthday specials. Organize and promote wine tastings and national cuisine evenings. In other words, give people a reason to keep coming back to your restaurant.

You already know that the future is here and that your marketing game needs to be strong both offline and online. You need a good website, created by a professional and active and well managed social media profiles.

If you think you have better things to do than to manage your Facebook page, you are probably right! You shouldn’t do it. However, you should definitely hire somebody else to do it for you. Facebook page is not the only channel you should exploit. Take a look at this brilliant example of a YouTube promotion video for the Sepia Restaurant in Sydney:

The video is interesting, the music is dynamic and engaging. The viewers will want to check out this restaurant in person, not that they have seen how a day in Sepia looks like. They have experienced a good story and now they want to be a part of it.

4. Create Mesmerising Ambiance That People Love

People are more than able to cook their own food or go to a friend’s house for a dinner. However, when there is a special date in their lives, they choose to go to a restaurant and make that even more special. Your customers will come for the food, but they will bring their friends and family because your restaurant is a pleasant and the ambiance is lovely.

This is what an experienced director, designer and a restaurant owner Ric Corinaldi said about restaurant interior and its importance:

“In Melbourne, the food needs to be perfect. You won’t get through the first few weeks if you haven’t got that right. But the space says who you are, that you respect the clientele, that you’re going to do your best to give them a beautiful experience.”

  • The first thing you need to think about is your restaurant location. Can you get a venue on a corner? Is there a parking lot available? What is the neighbourhood like?
  • Don’t be desperate if your perfectly positioned restaurant doesn’t have enough space. You can make up for the lack of space with better organisation. Make sure your kitchen is perfectly designed so that it makes working there very easy.
  • For example, the completed orders should be on the very entrance of the kitchen, so that the waiters don’t need to enter it and make it even more crowded.
  • Also, if you don’t have enough space, work on your takeaway menu and promotion. Allow people to book a table in advance using your website and prevent the crowding up of your place.

However, when it comes to designing your restaurant, we strongly recommend talking to a professional. Everything from your wall art to the choice of your crispy clean tea towels has to be perfect. Even your washroom needs to be presentable. It goes without saying that your staff needs lovely and spotless uniforms, as well.

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5. Pepper Your Venue With Unique Gimmicks and Innovations

Your marketing and social media efforts will bloom if you get your customers to take photos, share them, brag a bit about their experience, tag their friends, check in and recommend your restaurant.

For this to happen, you need to have something Instagram or Pinterest worthy. It can be the interior itself, the way you serve your food, the way you fold your napkins or something entirely different. Take a look at these ideas from already existing restaurants.

There is a Japanese restaurant in Victoria that features interesting chairs. Photo ideas are popping up as soon as you land your eyes on these interestingly designed chairs.

This eye-catching ceiling at Nobu Restaurant, Perth, Australia provides excellent mood lighting for the restaurant and a lovely photo opportunity that the customers will surely take.

Go to Facebook or Instagram and search it for hashtags #nobu and #perth. Almost every fifth photo is the photo of this mesmerising ceiling.

Your idea doesn’t have to be extremely expensive in order to be effective. How about some well-positioned ropes all over your restaurant? That’s what The Grand Old Lady of Melbourne’s Abbotsford did. These are not for free, but they might be quite cheaper than installing the designer chandeliers.

On the other hand, you can place your efforts into serving your food. This truly has to be unique for your restaurant and you need to find your own style. For example, this is taken from the Attica Restaurant in Melbourne.

You can come up with your own ideas, but it is highly advisable you hire a good interior designer to help you with the entire concept and the individual technicalities.

Do you want more ideas for your restaurant?

You can look at these 5 tips as 5 main points in your restaurant business plan. However, each and every one of them can be elaborated much further and broken down to many details. Take it from the experts and learn from the experience. Get 126 expert ideas for your restaurant business and work out how you can create a restaurant you always dreamed about and make it a success.


Photo courtesy of Flickr Images by audiolucistore

Making a Difference For The Phyathai Babies’ Home

Thanks to everyone

Thank you to everyone who donated items for this wonderful facility.

Donations Big and Small

Over the past three months Alsco Thailand have had boxes in the branch asking anyone to donate anything they like for the Phyathai Babies’ Home, no matter how small or how big, new or used.

It was overwhelming to see the number of items generously donated by everyone in the branch, including nappies, baby powder, toys, books, pencils, snacks, shoes, and clothing. You name it, we have a mix of everything.

The day came for a few of us to take the donations and visit the children. We ventured to the outskirts of Bangkok where the Phyathai Babies’ Home is located, here we were given a presentation about the home and taken on a tour of the facility.

A Long History of Providing Care

The Phyathai Babies’ Home was established in 1953 and houses babies from newborn up to six years old. At the age of six if they have not been adopted or returned to their families the children are moved to a different home.

The 300 children currently living at the home have been taken there for a number of reasons. Some were abandoned and found in boxes, others had parents on drugs, many came from poverty and several were abused or given insufficient care. Others were there because the parents have been unable to cope with difficulties in their life.

Lots of the babies are born from teenage girls who simply cannot look after their baby and are taken to the home straight from the hospital.

Pyathai Babies’ Home

Wonderful Onsite Care 24 Hours a Day

At the Phyathai Babies’ Home, the children are looked after very well. They have doctors, nurses and ambulance on site 24 hours a day. All the babies are vaccinated and are encouraged to exercise daily, they are disciplined and taught manners and learn how to clean up after themselves from the age of three.

The home ensures that all children they look after are educated until they are 18 years of age but as they said, no matter how well they are looked after, you can’t compare this to being brought up happily with your family.

It was a truly heart touching day, and everyone here at the branch is committed to supporting the Phaythai Babies’ Home with our donations again next year.

We are determined not to throw anything out. Each time we think about throwing something away we will think of what we have seen and what a difference it could make to the lives of these children. Every little bit counts, as there are lots of children in need.

Brenda Scerri
Alsco Thailand