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Things a bit quiet at your restaurant? The 3 golden rules for improving your popularity and profits

The hospitality industry is exciting but tough. A bad review, some negative social media coverage, and good old word-of-mouth can be damning if you haven’t got things right. So, how do you turn a poorly performing establishment into one that’s vibrant, cash-positive and successful? We asked an expert – a client who is regarded as one of Melbourne’s foremost restaurateurs – for his advice. He’s known for taking on failing establishments and turning them into hot spots. Profitable, well-reviewed and popular! Five to date and he’s not stopping there. So, what’s his secret? He came back with these 3 golden rules.

Get your menu right

Your menu is the equivalent of a book cover. It entices, attracts and whets the appetite for more. So, make it as appealing to your diners as possible.

• Simplicity. Use fonts that are easy to read and an attractive, well-designed, logical layout. Don’t make your patrons search, as confusion is not a good start to a dining experience!
• Say what it is. No-one likes to be daunted or embarrassed by pretentious language or overly complex food descriptions. Keep to a style that’s appropriate to your establishment and your patrons.
• Spell-check, twice! Then get someone else to proofread it as well. Typos and poor grammar are not appealing and don’t generate confidence in your attention to detail.

Make sure your food is fabulous

Without exception, every dish on your menu should be as good as the last. If an item isn’t up to standard, ditch it or do it better. Your reputation depends not on your best dish but on your weakest one.

• Get real. Put yourself in the customer’s seat and take a long, hard look at each dish from their perspective. Is that vegetarian dish as imaginative as it could be? Are your salads fresh and inventive, or just plain ordinary? Are your side dishes great in their own right, or mere afterthoughts? And your kiddies’ menu – will it keep the family coming back? Lastly, do your desserts delight or disappoint?
• Be your own restaurant reviewer. Everything has to taste great – no exceptions. Food envy around the table should be the norm. So, be honest when grading your meals. Are all the dishes equally good, or is the standard up and down? If you’re in doubt (or struggling to be objective), bring your friends and family in to dine and ask for their honest opinions.

Faster food

Sorry to say it, but although your patrons expect the same great food as before, they don’t want to stay as long in your restaurant. They have other things to do. And they have their smartphones at the ready to post on social media the moment something is too slow for their liking. Yes, #itsawholenewgame.

• Speed! Choose dishes which can be prepped, cooked and plated up smartly, to get from ordering to delivery with virtually no delay at all.
• In a rush? Make sure your wait staff advise your patrons if certain dishes take longer to prepare than others – and be ready to suggest alternatives. Have them ask if the diners are on a deadline, and pass that on so your kitchen has a handle on their expectations.

So – menu, food and speed. Are these your new golden rules?

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