How Restaurants Should Respond to Customers Asking for Money for Charities

One question that often remains unanswered is what to do with all these people coming to your restaurant and asking for donations (gift certificates).

It seems like lots of people all the sudden think that it is a great idea to go to their favorite restaurant and ask the owners for gift certificates to donate to their children’s schools, their churches or their preferred charities.

Of course, they don’t realize that hundreds of customers and organizations have the same idea and ask for the same gifts. And perhaps they think that this sinking economy is not impacting your business.

And what can you do, poor restaurateur, but suffer the unpleasant experience of having to say NO to these, often pleasant and good people?

Don’t despair. I have a couple of ideas for you to use next time that you get the happy solicitor asking you for a donation:

  1. If the solicitors are organizations with many people: school, hospital, church, charity, etc. Offer to give them many small gift certificates that don’t cover your average price per customer. For example, if your average ticket is $25 per person, offer gift certificates for a value of $10. Also make sure that you clearly print on them that they can’t be combined. You want to take advantage of this opportunity to give away coupons masked as gift certificates for a value less than your average check so that the customers coming will spend more money in your place.
  2. If the solicitors are individual customers. Offer to sell them the gift certificates at a discount. You can apply the same principle than before. You can sell them several $10 gift certificates for a value of $5 each. They can buy as many as they want but they have to give them or raffle them to many people (and not bundling them together) so that many people get to come and try your place. Tell them that you are contributing your share by giving them the discounts, but they also have to contribute theirs by paying for the difference. After all it’s their idea and it should be their donation, not yours.

If you apply both techniques you will:

  • Be happier because you won’t have to say NO to a good cause
  • Leverage your marketing by distributing gift certificates that will bring additional customers (who could be potential clients) to your place at a minimum cost

It is a win-win proposition.

Happy Sailing,
Jose L Riesco
Get a FREE 36 pages Restaurant Marketing Strategies Book Summary here: www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

How the Crisis is Affecting the Restaurant Industry

A good friend of mine who owns an upper scale small family restaurant called me in panic. The business is slow, in fact it is so slow that she was afraid that she will have to lay off people because her cash reserves were getting depleted.

It is true that with this uncertain economy, with the stock market collapsing, the sub-prime mortgage down the tubes and the credit taughter than titanium, sometimes it seems like the end of the world.

So what can a restaurateur do to keep the business going?

The best course of action is to focus on the bases. Yes, the economy is not good, yes people go out less and eat less in restaurants because they have less money (specially if they invested in real state or the stock market) or they are just afraid that the economy will collapse and want to save some money… but you know what? This is more an emotional reaction than a real depression with lots of jobs being lost.

Most the people are still keeping their jobs and there is always enough people who go out to eat to fill in your restaurant IF (and this IF is really important in these taught times) provides them with something better than your competitors.

In easy times it easy to make money by just about anybody with a business. People are happier to spend their money when the economy is vibrant and there is plenty to spend and they are less picky where they spend it.

However, turn the economy around, just like now, and people start watching really careful where they spend their hard earned dollars. If they decide to go out for dinner, they better hand pick a restaurant that it will guarantee them a great dinning experience.

This is where your restaurant should shine and set apart from your competitors. Focus on your clients with a laser sharp intensity. Make their dinning dollars count by giving them the best food, best drinks and best service that you are able to provide at your place and they will be grateful to you and come again looking to repeat that great experience.

Also, don’t skimp in your marketing. this is a mistake that many restaurateurs do. In times of crisis, they start cutting down their marketing and sales effort and this brings less clients and less revenue.

Try no to panic and run your business the best you can. This is the only way you can weather these stormy times. Hang in there and wait for the economy to recover and people to come back to eat at your place.

Good luck!

How the Crisis is Affecting the Restaurant Industry

A good friend of mine who owns an upper scale small family restaurant called me in panic. The business is slow, in fact it is so slow that she was afraid that she will have to lay off people because her cash reserves were getting depleted.

It is true that with this uncertain economy, with the stock market collapsing, the sub-prime mortgage down the tubes and the credit taughter than titanium, sometimes it seems like the end of the world.

So what can a restaurateur do to keep the business going?

The best course of action is to focus on the bases. Yes, the economy is not good, yes people go out less and eat less in restaurants because they have less money (specially if they invested in real state or the stock market) or they are just afraid that the economy will collapse and want to save some money… but you know what? This is more an emotional reaction than a real depression with lots of jobs being lost.

Most the people are still keeping their jobs and there is always enough people who go out to eat to fill in your restaurant IF (and this IF is really important in these taught times) provides them with something better than your competitors.

In easy times it easy to make money by just about anybody with a business. People are happier to spend their money when the economy is vibrant and there is plenty to spend and they are less picky where they spend it.

However, turn the economy around, just like now, and people start watching really careful where they spend their hard earned dollars. If they decide to go out for dinner, they better hand pick a restaurant that it will guarantee them a great dinning experience.

This is where your restaurant should shine and set apart from your competitors. Focus on your clients with a laser sharp intensity. Make their dinning dollars count by giving them the best food, best drinks and best service that you are able to provide at your place and they will be grateful to you and come again looking to repeat that great experience.

Also, don’t skimp in your marketing. this is a mistake that many restaurateurs do. In times of crisis, they start cutting down their marketing and sales effort and this brings less clients and less revenue.

Try no to panic and run your business the best you can. This is the only way you can weather these stormy times. Hang in there and wait for the economy to recover and people to come back to eat at your place.

Good luck!

Great Service

What constitutes great service when you go to a restaurant?

This is one of these things that are difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it, or better yet, when you experience it.

Some times we go to a restaurant where the service is so obviously poor that there is no question about it: long delays, rude or inattentive waiters, mistakes with the food or drinks orders that don’t get compensated, apologized, etc.

We know that it has been poor service and we can totally account and

However, other times, although everything seems OK, we have the impression that something is missing. Yes, the waiters were on time and yes, they delivered the food and drinks that we ordered in a reasonable time and yet, however, something is missing: I will call it the WOW factor.

You see? We humans are very tuned, although many times, in a subconscious level, to the feelings and moods of other people. If a waiter is unhappy, or just has a bad day, you will notice. That mood, that unhappiness will be transmitted to the people who their customers.

The reverse is also true. A happy, sincerely smiling waiter, transmits their happiness to their clients, chatting with them and making them feel good. It doesn’t matter that much if they make a mistake or forget some food item because their tables will feel connected with them and understand and forgive their mistakes.

This seems unfair, after all, every person has the right to be moody or unhappy. So how does the waiters mood or disposition relate to the restaurant owners or managers? What can you do if they have unhappy faces or unhappy lives?

Well, to start with, many of the unhappiness of your employees could probably be related to your work environment.

You should ask yourself. Are your employees happy to work for your restaurant? Happy to work for you? If you try to squeeze as much as you can from them, they will resent you and transmit this resentment to their tables, to your clients!

I mention in my online seminar that the quality of your restaurant is as good as the quality of your weakest link. If your employees are not happy working for you, your clients will suffer the consequences.

I am not saying that you need to bend backwards to please your employees. After all, they are also human and therefore always want the best for themselves, even if they are not being fair with their fellow coworkers.

What I am saying is that you should provide your employees with the best work environment that you can (of course while still running a profitable business). Trying to take advantage of your employees by having unreasonable working hours, treating them with disrespect, paying them late, etc. will make them unhappy and will make you lose a lot of money in the long term with your clients.

Happy employees make happy clients. Period.

Thanks for reading and happy sailing,

Jose L Riesco
jose@riescoconsulting.com
http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

Great Service

What constitutes great service when you go to a restaurant?
This is one of these things that are difficult to describe, but you know it when you see it, or better yet, when you experience it.
Some times we go to a restaurant where the service is so obviously poor that there is no question about it: long delays, rude or inattentive waiters, mistakes with the food or drinks orders that don’t get compensated, apologized, etc.
However, other times, although everything seems OK, we have the impression that something is missing. Yes, the waiters were on time and yes, they delivered the food and drinks that we ordered in a reasonable time and yet, however, something is missing: I will call it the WOW factor.
You see? We humans are very tuned, although many times, in a subconscious level, to the feelings and moods of other people. If a waiter is unhappy, or just has a bad day, you will notice. That mood, that unhappiness will be transmitted to the people who their customers.
The reverse is also true. A happy, sincerely smiling waiter, transmits their happiness to their clients, chatting with them and making them feel good. It doesn’t matter that much if they make a mistake or forget some food item because their tables will feel connected with them and understand and forgive their mistakes.
This seems unfair, after all, every person has the right to be moody or unhappy. So how does the waiters mood or disposition relate to the restaurant owners or managers? What can you do if they have unhappy faces or unhappy lives?
Well, to start with, many of the unhappiness of your employees could probably be related to your work environment.
You should ask yourself. Are your employees happy to work for your restaurant? Happy to work for you? If you try to squeeze as much as you can from them, they will resent you and transmit this resentment to their tables, to your clients!
I mention in my online seminar that the quality of your restaurant is as good as the quality of your weakest link. If your employees are not happy working for you, your clients will suffer the consequences.
I am not saying that you need to bend backwards to please your employees. After all, they are also human and therefore always want the best for themselves, even if they are not being fair with their fellow coworkers.
What I am saying is that you should provide your employees with the best work environment that you can (of course while still running a profitable business). Trying to take advantage of your employees by having unreasonable working hours, treating them with disrespect, paying them late, etc. will make them unhappy and will make you lose a lot of money in the long term with your clients.
Happy employees make happy clients. Period.
Thanks for reading and happy sailing,
Jose L Riesco
jose@riescoconsulting.com
Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

Exceeding Expectations

How many times do you get one of these surveys, specially after buying a new car (see my previous blog titled Surveys and Car Dealers where they expect you to fill them always with the top score? (Meaning that they’ve exceeded all your expectations).

If we followed the car dealers’ standards, “Exceeding Expectations” would mean OK service…

Or did they delivered the car to your door at work or at home? Did they give you an incredible discount or did something so out of the ordinary that you were in shock and awe (and not in a negative way!) because it greatly surprised you?

These would be cases of exceeding expectations. Giving you a free pot coffee while you wait for the salesman or just going for a test car ride are not. All the dealers do this, so we expect this from them.

They never impressed me much so I guess that I should rate them with 3 stars (average) although they always demand 5 (exceeded expectations) for some unfounded reason.

Perhaps their expectations are lower than normal after you spend more than $25,000 on their product?

But I digress.

Going back to the restaurant business, how many times do think your clients believe that you’ve exceeded their expectations? Sometimes, seldom, never?

How many times did you go to another restaurant where they’ve exceeded your expectations?

It didn’t happen too many times to me.

Perhaps because this industry is very predictable and it’s difficult to be original, or perhaps because we are too conservative to try anything new, dinning at most restaurants is a totally prdictive experience.

Sure you expect good food and good service at reasonable prices. Every restaurant should give you at least that, but what about surprising your clients with some unpredicted extras? They don’t need to be expensive, it is more a matter of thinking than of spending money.

For example, you could tell your chef to prepare some small appetizers that you could give, on the house, to your clients when they order their drinks. Or you can ask your waiters to replace napkins when somebody leaves the table to go to the bathroom or to make a phone call, etc. You could, for example, one night buy flowers and give one rose (or some other flower) to each woman in the restaurant, give a little sack to each guest (or table) with some spices that you’ve used in the dishes… The sky is the limit!

These are very cheap things for you to do that will pleasantly surprise your clients. These little things will exceed their expectations because they don’t get it anywhere else and therefore they are not expecting it.

But don’t do always the same things or they will become routine. Come up with new ideas, always new, always fresh and unexpected. Setup an idea context among your employees and give a price to the ones that give you the best ideas.

Not only your clients will love your place, but you will also make your restaurant unique and invite your clients to repeat their visits looking forward to be “surprised” and enjoy their dinning experience.

Thanks for reading and happy sailing,

Jose L Riesco
jose@riescoconsulting.com

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You can find more information about restaurant marketing strategies in my website Restaurant Marketing Strategies

Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

Bad Restaurant Service

This weekend I went with my family and some friends to a trip to Long Beach, WA. On the way, we stopped in a Mexican restaurant to get some lunch.

The place was empty (only the 8 of us and another couple) and we were promptly seated in a long table.

Soon enough, our young (in his late teens or early twenties) waiter came with the nachos, no salsa. When after a while we asked him for some salsa, he smiled and brought it a few minutes later. No big deal.

Then we order our foods. Two members of our party didn’t get their tortillas for their fajitas. We waited and waited but the waiter never came back to check on us. Another woman in our group ordered a Coke that never made it to the table. We needed to get up and look for the waiter who was talking to another guy by the kitchen. Finally a busboy brought us the tortillas when they were almost at the end of the meal.

In the middle of the meal, a terrible noise startled us all. Somebody dropped a whole tray filled with glasses. It made a terrible ruckus and got all the attention from our waiter (although he wasn’t the responsible for the accident). We never saw him again until we had to go again and ask for the check.

They charged us for the coke that we never got but we were ready to leave and didn’t want to make a fuss about $1.65 so we paid and left.

Now, we were in our way to Long Beach and it is doubtful that we will stop in that place for a meal any time soon, but even if I was leaving in that town, I don’t think that I would frequent that place. The food, by the way, was pretty good.

I always said that food in a restaurant is important but service is almost as important. If one of the two fails, the dining experience also fails.

I see often restaurateurs hiring very expensive chefs that get lavishly paid, and compensate their expenses by hiring inexperience (and cheap) servers, often teenagers, who are neither interested in the business nor knowledgeable of what a good dining experience entails.

Don’t make this mistake. Good food with poor service is as bad as bad food with great service. Both need to be in balance if you want your place to succeed. Select the best servers that you can get, train them continuously (teach them the foods, the wines, what makes your place unique and special) and don’t try to squeeze as much money as you can from them. Not only they won’t be motivated to offer an excellent service but they may even resent you and pass that resentment along to your clients.

Remember, the weakest link in your business will setup the standard.

Thanks for reading and happy sailing,

Jose L Riesco
jose@riescoconsulting.com
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You can find more information about restaurant marketing strategies in my website http://www.myrestaurantmarketing.com

Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

What’s Special About Your Restaurant?

This is a very important question that you need to answer honestly if you want your place to succeed.
Let’s play pretend for a moment. Let’s pretend that you are one of your clients.
What attracts them to your place?
Is it your great food? or perhaps Your convenient location? Are you the cheapest place around? (I hope not or you will have to make your profit in pure volume.) Do you have a signature dish that attracts people? or Live music? or Does your place have great atmosphere and beautiful decoration? Do you have a view? Easy and convenient parking?
Whatever makes your place unique and different is what it’s called in marketing a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and this is the key factor that differentiates your place from any other place.
All restaurants have (or should have) a USP so if yours doesn’t jump at you right away, just sit down when you have a few free minutes (I know, I know, it’s difficult to find free time for a restaurateur but you own to yourself and your business to do this exercise) and write down a list of things that make your place special.
If you are not able to come up with any, ask your staff or any of your regular clients, they may tell you something that you didn’t even thought of.
If nobody can tell you anything special for your place, then you are in trouble my friend, because if you or your people don’t find anything special, nobody else will do. In this case you need to “create” something special. Make a new dish, a new signature cocktail (if you serve alcohol), bring and hang art (from an art school or local artists) in your walls…
Once you finally have your USP, use it in your advertising, make sure that all your employees know about it. Tell your clients. This will resonate with them and will make your place to stand from 90% of other places that have nothing special to offer.
If you are really serious about improving your business, I strongly recommend you to check my
. It is free for you to evaluate and I can garantee you, it will improve your business dramatically.
Thanks for reading and happy sailing,
Jose L Riesco

Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

What’s Special About Your Restaurant?

This is a very important question that you need to answer honestly if you want your place to succeed.
Let’s play pretend for a moment. Let’s pretend that you are one of your clients.
What attracts them to your place?
Is it your great food? or perhaps Your convenient location? Are you the cheapest place around? (I hope not or you will have to make your profit in pure volume.) Do you have a signature dish that attracts people? or Live music? or Does your place have great atmosphere and beautiful decoration? Do you have a view? Easy and convenient parking?
Whatever makes your place unique and different is what it’s called in marketing a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and this is the key factor that differentiates your place from any other place.
All restaurants have (or should have) a USP so if yours doesn’t jump at you right away, just sit down when you have a few free minutes (I know, I know, it’s difficult to find free time for a restaurateur but you own to yourself and your business to do this exercise) and write down a list of things that make your place special.
If you are not able to come up with any, ask your staff or any of your regular clients, they may tell you something that you didn’t even thought of.
If nobody can tell you anything special for your place, then you are in trouble my friend, because if you or your people don’t find anything special, nobody else will do. In this case you need to “create” something special. Make a new dish, a new signature cocktail (if you serve alcohol), bring and hang art (from an art school or local artists) in your walls…
Once you finally have your USP, use it in your advertising, make sure that all your employees know about it. Tell your clients. This will resonate with them and will make your place to stand from 90% of other places that have nothing special to offer.
If you are really serious about improving your business, I strongly recommend you to check my
. It is free for you to evaluate and I can garantee you, it will improve your business dramatically.
Thanks for reading and happy sailing,
Jose L Riesco

Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.

What’s Special About Your Restaurant?

This is a very important question that you need to answer honestly if you want your place to succeed.
Let’s play pretend for a moment. Let’s pretend that you are one of your clients.
What attracts them to your place?
Is it your great food? or perhaps Your convenient location? Are you the cheapest place around? (I hope not or you will have to make your profit in pure volume.) Do you have a signature dish that attracts people? or Live music? or Does your place have great atmosphere and beautiful decoration? Do you have a view? Easy and convenient parking?
Whatever makes your place unique and different is what it’s called in marketing a USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and this is the key factor that differentiates your place from any other place.
All restaurants have (or should have) a USP so if yours doesn’t jump at you right away, just sit down when you have a few free minutes (I know, I know, it’s difficult to find free time for a restaurateur but you own to yourself and your business to do this exercise) and write down a list of things that make your place special.
If you are not able to come up with any, ask your staff or any of your regular clients, they may tell you something that you didn’t even thought of.
If nobody can tell you anything special for your place, then you are in trouble my friend, because if you or your people don’t find anything special, nobody else will do. In this case you need to “create” something special. Make a new dish, a new signature cocktail (if you serve alcohol), bring and hang art (from an art school or local artists) in your walls…
Once you finally have your USP, use it in your advertising, make sure that all your employees know about it. Tell your clients. This will resonate with them and will make your place to stand from 90% of other places that have nothing special to offer.
If you are really serious about improving your business, I strongly recommend you to check my
. It is free for you to evaluate and I can garantee you, it will improve your business dramatically.
Thanks for reading and happy sailing,
Jose L Riesco

Copyright Riesco Consulting Inc.