Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Restaurant Experience

Case Study: Small restaurant in Central Texas
Challenge: Build a customer experience consistent with the brand.
Idea Wanted: Advice on building a customer experience that is consistent with the brand promise.

The Background: This restaurant first opened last year. It's brand promise is Fine Dining, Home Atmosphere. It has fewer than 20 tables, located in a downtown warehouse-type structure without much exterior decoration.

The menu has an Italian flare, but not exclusively. The interior decoration is somewhat homey, but inconsistent. All employees are dressed in matching black restaurant t-shirts and blue jeans. The food is served quickly and is very tasty.

Advice: Develop a theme based on the brand promise and then turn that theme into a customer experience consistent with the brand.

We divided the theme up into two categories based on the brand promise. First we discussed a theme that would match Fine Dining. Then we worked on a theme for Home Atmosphere using an Italian home as our model.

We then merged the two together for the following ideas to be implemented as soon as possible.

Our Ideas:
1. Checks are paid at the table in fine dining restaurants. Give servers the responsibily of processing payment. This removes the cash register from the front door and eliminates a bottleneck of customers coming in the restaurant trying to get around people paying their bill and trying to leave the restaurant. This scene did not have "fine dining" written on it.

2. Change the dress of the servers. The concensus on our team was "casual but nice." We generally did not approve of jeans and a t-shirt. Again, it just doesn't say fine dining. We suggest keeping the jeans but adding pressed white dress shirts, maybe even with black bowties.

3. Carry the experience outside the restaurant. As your customers enter the door, prep them to enter an experience that is something other than every day. Have some Italian music playing outside the front door. Our recommendation, budget permitting, is to re-paint the outside of the building with some more traditional Italian colors. But go easy and don't get cheesy Italian, say painting the Italian flag on the outside.

4. Presentation: Add tablecloths, cloth napkins, and painted dinnerware in a traditional Italian style.

5. During the meal: Social interaction is a big part of meals in an Italian home. The owner should be strolling through the dining room and socializing with the customers. He should have Italian toasts and expressions ready and use one at almost every table.

6. The servers: Be polite and attentive, yet friendly and sociable, just like in an Italian home. Servers should also be taught some Italian sayings that they are to use on cue. For example, after the order is taken, the server exclaims "perfetto!"

7. The decor: Texture the walls and add a glaze for a Tuscan feel. Add a hanging fresco here and there. Change the light fixures, no florescent tubes. Add a wine rack on the wall, change the floor to large tiles. Add some greenery.

8. Raise the prices of the meals. You cannot get fine dining for $4.99. Your customers don't believe that either. Raise the price of the meal and you raise the perceived value of it. Remember that your customers are paying one price for the food and another for the experience, add those two together for a higher price.

The Lesson: Think in themes. The easiest way to develop a consistent customer experience is to develop a theme based on what you want your customers to say about you when they leave. In this case study, the theme was easy because the brand promise was well developed: Fine Dining. Home Atmosphere.

If you are having trouble developing a theme, imagine how you want your customers to describe your establishment after they leave. Pretend you are the customer and you are about to describe your business. Use this simple sentence: Your business name is __________.

For example: Starbucks is ___________.

Now, what do you think. Are we off? On? Did we miss something?

For more small business marketing advice, see our other blog: The Marketing Spot
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1 comment:

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