Operations – Know Your Customers

In today’s foodservice environment, it is increasingly important for the independent restaurateur to stand out amongst the sea of chains.  One way to do this is to get to know your customers, and let your customers get to know you.

Getting to know your customers can be a great way to build a base of repeat customers.  Give your customers a face to put to your restaurant and they will feel special or “part of the group” during every return visit.  Spend some time at the front greeting new customers, and shake the hands of the customers you have met before.  Remember a customer’s name and you will have sold them for life.  If you are visible walking the restaurant floor, and ensuring a positive dining experience, it makes the customer feel more comfortable and gives them someone to talk to if they have any complaints.

Although being visible at your restaurant is an important part of growing your business, it can be a tough task.  Owners need to ensure their time is well-managed, as you can get caught up schmoozing the customers when you are greatly needed elsewhere.  Designate a certain amount of time to walking the floor, and maje sure you have an exit strategy if you do get caught up with the customer.  Try to stay away from taking orders from customers, and only take the more important phone calls.

Getting to know your customers extends beyond the walls of your restaurant, and making sure you have visibility in the community is a vital part of any independent restaurant’s survival.  If you make an effort to spend time in the community – sponsoring youth sports, passing out pizzas at local charity events, giving free slice coupons to those stores around you – people will start to recognize your pizzerias effort as a valuable member of the community.  This goodwill will lead to increased sales, and an increased customer base.  Also, in order to keep your goodwill, ensure that you are always on y0ur best behavior and try to treat everyone as if they were a special customer.

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