We’re all human. Sometimes, we make mistakes – silly mistakes.
Unfortunately, in the restaurant trade, even the silliest of errors can result in very unhappy diners. And unhappy diners talk; consumer opinion drives commerce in the modern world and if you inadvertently upset a guest, the domino effect of their anger can be rather frightening.
It starts with a tweet mentioning your restaurant (thanks to the inclusion of your Twitter handle, naturally), which is then retweeted by others, picked up by food bloggers and industry news sources (the diner used the hashtag #BadRestaurant, you see), and, before you know it, you’re swimming in a sea of online vitriol that significantly harms your business.
At worst, you may end up the unwitting focal point of a viral campaign shared by hundreds of thousands of people.
Let’s try and avoid that, shall we?
You’ll never stop making mistakes – none of us will – but we think there are some common schoolboy errors that restaurateurs really should avoid making.
Here’s 5 of the best – sorry – worst:
1. Ignoring bad reviews online
TripAdvisor exists – it isn’t going anywhere. The modern restaurateur therefore needs to put aside any misgiving about the world’s largest consumer review website and embrace it.
If you receive a bad review online – be it on TripAdvisor or on social media – respond. Ignore them at your peril. By responding, you show that you care and, you never know, you may just tempt the customer back.
The effort you put into responding to the grumbles of previous diners won’t go unnoticed.
2. Being inconsistent
Is your food consistently good? Do you consistently offer enough dishes for vegetarians? Are all waiting staff abiding by the same customer service values you hold dear?
Inconsistency in the restaurant trade will always ultimately end in tears. Diners expect the same, brilliant food, great customer service and breadth of choice on the menu every time they visit. Fall short on that experience once, and they’ll soon forget about the good times.
3. Not offering online booking
You need an online restaurant booking system – simple. Diners expect to be able to check availability and place table reservations without ever picking up the phone.
If your website doesn’t feature a ‘book now’ button, you’ll be upsetting a significant number of people that pass by your digital doors and, worst of all, you’ll be none the wiser.
4. Forgetting about allergies
Diners will want to know that they can count on your restaurant to cater for their dietary requirements, so make sure it’s abundantly clear on your website and menus that you take allergens seriously.
Waiting staff should also be up-to-speed on the topic and forthright in asking every table if any dietary requirements need to be catered for.
5. Poor cover management
As a restaurant customer, there’s nothing more frustrating than being ushered out of the door as soon as you’ve finished your dessert. You booked the table, behaved yourself and have rung up quite a bill, so why should you be forced to depart quickly in order to enable someone else to take your space?
If you’re tight for covers, always be honest about the fact with walk-in guests. Tell them there will be a table available for just one hour, and you’ll set expectations right from the start. Surprise them with what may as well be a nod towards the door, and you’ll do nothing more than get under their skin.
That’s all, folks…
What’s the worst error you’ve made in your restaurant career? Don’t be afraid – share in the comments section below! The mistakes we make (when rectified and vowed never to be repeated) aid learning and push us on to greater success.
Just avoid making the five mistakes we’ve listed above!