7 Tips to Improve Your Restaurant & Its Image.

If you’re in the restaurant business, you know the competition is fierce.

We’re living a golden era for the hospitality industry. Restaurant review websites, delivery apps, restaurant guides, Yelp, Trip Advisor, you name it. Today it’s easier for people to find a place to eat, and there’s more information about any restaurant than ever before, good and bad.

For a restaurant, a good image has never been more critical. You know people shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but they do. They judge restaurants for how they look, for their decor, and their menus, even before trying the food.

Here are some tips to gain and maintain a good image and stay ahead of your competition.

1- Keep it clean.

It might sound obvious, but cleanliness is the most important factor for consumers today. And it might seem silly but keeping things clean is harder than you think.

What happens is that you get used to your environment. Big resorts, with many restaurants on-premise, rotate their restaurant managers often. After a few weeks, the spider web in the corner, the dust layer on the chandelier, and the wine stains on the chairs seem normal. Think about it; it happens at home too. You need a fresh set of eyes to spot areas of opportunity, meaning dirt.

Make your staff responsible for the cleanliness of their areas; customers have a keen eye for dirty glassware, spots on the carpet, and stained menus. If you want a good image, start by keeping it clean.

2- Keep it tight.

We’re not talking about the space between tables. We’re talking about the menu. The biggest mistake a restaurant makes is trying to have every existent dish on their menus. “A jack of all trades is a master of none.”

If you wish to be perceived as an attractive dining option, start by standing out for being very good at something. You’ll have a hard time building an image if you have hummus, falafel, pizza, burgers, and tacos on your menu.

The Japanese know this, and they have developed a restaurant philosophy around a few menu items. If you’re good making grilled chicken skewers, then that’s all you should sell, and people will quickly recognize the value of your specialization.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to choose one single item, but stay within a food category.

3- Write the rules down.

The worst enemy of a good image is the lack of consistency. Identical repetitive experiences create a picture. Go ahead and get yourself a Big Mac. We bet it tastes exactly the same as it did the last time you hit McDonald’s drive-through.

Make sure your kitchen staff has all the recipes written and within arm’s reach. Ensure your dining room staff knows the service standards and their sequence. A reliable, consistent service will make your restaurant look professional, and patrons will keep coming back.

Write the rules down, write down everything, from how your staff should greet your guests to how many fries should go with the cheeseburger. All that’s left is making people follow the rules.

4- Evolve.

The best restaurants in the world change their menus often, sometimes daily! That doesn’t mean you should do that, but keep in mind that your restaurant has to evolve one way or another.

You don’t have to change your whole menu, but have you considered having vegan, paleo, or keto options? That’s evolution right there.

Sometimes it is not what you offer on the menu, but how you manage your business. iPads for the servers instead of paper, a computerized point of sale system to keep track of your orders, an automatic soap dispenser in the bathrooms, innovation is key.

5- Listen to your customers.

You’ve heard this before, but do you actually do this? Listening to your customers is a great way to stay ahead and create the right image.

There are two ways of listening to your patrons; the first one is digging deep into the numbers. What are your best-selling items? What’s the number one off-the-menu request? How much are the people spending? Are your fabulous desserts selling? Get those spreadsheets going and start finding out what your customers want.

The other way to listen to customers, and the best one is actually talking to them. Visit the tables, chat around. Especially if you’re a manager or the owner, people will tell you what they think. People love being heard, and if you’re around, you might be able to solve a few problems before the patrons yap about them on their social networks.

6- Invest.

We know you want no more bills but investing in your restaurant is the easiest way to have an efficient operation, happy staff, and a respectable image. Everything we said before, from keeping things clean to evolving, has to do with having the right tools for your business.

Browse specialty equipment websites and ask yourself if some of the items would make your staff work more efficiently, if your operation would run smother, or if your kitchen would look cleaner. Of course it will!

So, renovate your equipment as needed, and buy quality equipment. The appropriate tools differentiate the good from the great.

7- Take care of your people.

Your staff, from the server to your chef, are a big part of your restaurant’s image, so take care of them. The best way to do it is by empowering them with responsibilities and giving them adequate, regular training.

Make sure all your staff knows everything there is to know about your menu items, how they’re prepared, and how they taste like. Make sure everyone knows the restaurant’s history and what it stands for. Most importantly, make sure your staff is happy and proud of working with you.

Having a good restaurant image is the key to success, and you’ll need all the help you need to achieve it. Everyone to be on the same boat.