The two most important things in the restaurant business: the food and your restaurant brand. Sure, the food is the most critical, but building your brand is a close second. People come to your restaurant with expectations, and if they aren't met, even a great meal will feel less than satisfying. Here are some tips to help you deliver a consistent brand message to all your customers:
Invest in the Right Training
Restaurants often have high turnover, and as a result, there's always someone new on staff. If you're short staffed, it's often tempting to throw a new hire out there and hope for the best. Don't fall for that trap. You want to provide clear and thorough training—and not just on how to set a table and cash out a meal. Your training needs to include a clear definition of what your brand is and how your new employee's role supports that brand.
Have your best employees be your trainers, and pay them extra for doing so. Training is hard work, and they'll need to be rewarded for taking it on. Make sure your training process is sufficient enough to get your new hire up to speed while also providing the information needed to represent your brand in style.
Empower Your Staff
What happens when a customer has a problem? Can your waitstaff solve it? If the answer to this is no, you're sending a damaging brand message. This tells your customers that they will get a different response depending on which staff member they seek help from. Instead of requiring a manager's assistance for anything that comes up, give your staff the power to make the same decisions. This creates great consistency across your restaurant.
Carefully Design Your Menu
The purpose of your menu is to let customers know their options, but its role can be much deeper, too. When you hire someone to design and lay out your menu, have a long conversation about your brand and how critical it is to have it shine through your presentation. Listen to your designer's advice, and make sure you collaborate together; a well-designed menu can help give customers a great first impression of your restaurant.
If your restaurant is just like every other restaurant, your brand won't be strong. Think about what makes your restaurant different and how you can provide a unique experience to your customers. Personalize your customers' experience to really stand out from the crowd. Start by collecting guests' contact information, and send out birthday cards. This will prove to your customers that your restaurant brand is friendly and loyal. Other small details that will make your business stand out are interesting daily or weekly specials, a killer happy hour offering, and having your staff answer the phone in a friendly or upbeat manner. Be sure your staff also speaks highly about ingredients. Instead of saying "the side is asparagus" have them get specific and say "the side is tender baby asparagus sprinkled with lemon juice."
If you serve great food, chances are that people will want to come back to your restaurant. Having a solid brand message in place will get them in the door in the first place and help you become more memorable in the community. Use these tips to ensure you're consistent and that your restaurant's brand shines.