Head to the Netherlands or Germany and, unless there’s a sign on the door featuring a dog within a red circle, you can take your four-legged friend into pretty much any restaurant for a bite to eat.
In the UK, that sounds rather preposterous, for we are only used to seeing dogs in pub gardens and strictly within the confines of bars. In the restaurant? Surely not! What about all of the hair?
Perhaps it’s time for us to drop this rather British trait. After all, a well behaved dog is unlikely to cause much of a fuss and, it could be argued, will have a somewhat better table-side manner than some humans.
So, should your restaurant be dog friendly? We’ve got 4 reasons we think you should start allowing man’s best friend through your doors:
1. They bring in more diners
Let’s start with the obvious. People with dogs will often eschew eating establishment that don’t allow them to dine with their pet. If you make it abundantly clear (that means a nice big sign on the door – don’t make them walk in and ask), they’ll come in. And that’s two extra diners you wouldn’t otherwise have served.
2. They create additional revenue opportunities
Many pubs in the UK are starting to introduce menus for dogs. Some even offer a dog-friendly tipple. And the advantages of doing so are obvious.
Once a dog owner enters the pub with their furry friend, you have a unique opportunity to raise their order value. Create a doggy menu that is simple to prepare (28-day aged pigs ears and ‘hot dawgs’, are good examples) and print separate cards for it. You’ll be surprised how many people decide to order.
3. They create social media opportunities
Social media is a powerful marketing channel for restaurants and if you’ve been investing time in it for your business, you’ll know how important imagery is. People love pictures of food, but they also love pictures of dogs. Combine the two, and you’re likely to gain a significant engagement boost on the likes of Twitter and Instagram.
What’s more, you’ll be able to rely on your customers to do the hard work for you. There are few better ways to generate buzz around your restaurant than have diners live tweet pictures of their dogs enjoying your canine-friendly menu.
4. They encourage a relaxed, fun atmosphere
Dogs are known to help humans relax and they are unquestionably joyful when at their cutest. The presence of them in your restaurant is therefore likely to create a relaxed, fun atmosphere and will enable diners to interact with one another as they introduce their pets and compare dog walking routines.
Not every diner will be keen on sharing the same space as a dog while eating their lunch and those with allergies may actively avoid your establishment in future if they find themselves sat within a few feet of a panting Great Dane.
Equally, not every dog is well-behaved, and despite a customer’s protestation that theirs will sit quietly beneath the table, the last thing you want halfway through their meal is for Fido to decide he’d much rather launch himself at the table opposite in a desperate attempt to nab that last roast potato.
It is therefore important to consider segregating dog-friendly areas within your restaurant if you decide to grant them access. It may also be worth canvassing opinion from your regulars to ensure those who are most loyal to your brand are comfortable with the idea of you allowing dogs in.
The pet-friendliness witnessed in German and Dutch hospitality businesses is the result of years of acceptance. With that in mind, it is unlikely we’ll see a significant movement in that direction on these shores any time soon, but the perks above may just tempt a few restaurants to relax the rules. More diners equals more revenue, after all…