A Smidge of Extra Effort Can Go a Mile
Hi all, welcome back to Bonji Hot Takes, where we address some of the opinions and knowledge that we've picked up along our journey in the industry. We are here to offer assistance, stories, and hopefully some value! This week we’re talking about how customers perceive effort (and lack thereof). Think about your personal experiences. Have you ever done an extremely minor favor for a customer and received enormous gratitude? I am sure it happens to everyone from time to time, and instead of this being a once-in-a-while occurrence, restaurant owners and all business people alike should use this tidbit of knowledge as a tool. Let us run through a few examples!
1. Allow Customization on Orders or Make Side Dishes Worth It In our hometown, there is an Italian restaurant that is, by all means, a pretty average eatery. However, the majority of the town, even my family (which has extremely high standards when it comes to food), continuously returns to this restaurant. Why? Because when you order a Chicken Marsala dinner and have a side pasta, they allow you to customize the side! Instead of some grumpy person on the phone angrily saying "You can only get marinara sauce or butter,” they allow you to get a small serving of penne with vodka sauce or linguini with oil and garlic. Even if all you can offer them is a different type of pasta or sauce, this gesture will be appreciated by many. Research has shown that millennials and many others love the ability to customize orders. Additionally, they are always willing to customize your order or make sure the side dish is just as satisfying as the main course. In reality, this is costing the restaurant pennies, yet it is extremely appreciated by the customers who are always coming back.
2. Throw in an Extra Item For Your Best Customers You don’t have to make an entirely new item from scratch. Ingredients cost money and it is entirely fair to not give away free things if you're not in the position to do so. However, unless you are a 100% mistake-free restaurant, orders get mixed up or you have pickup orders that never show. Instead of throwing out something, give it to a customer that has long supported your business. Pizza places tend to have a stockpile of by-the-slice pizza at the end of the day, yet when I go in ten minutes to close, most of the time I do not get offered anything. But when I do get something free that otherwise would have been thrown out, I am absolutely thrilled. Even if it’s an Anchovies slice (ew). Although you may not like the idea of giving away free items, a great way to boost revenue is to offer “add-on items” for a few extra dollars. Overall, this lesson is meant for you to capture intangible value when the opportunity occurs. You just made that customer who received a free item feel intense gratitude and they will make sure to come back.
3. Show True Appreciation & Be Sincere Is there anything worse than ordering something up from a restaurant and being treated badly? Each customer that walks through your doors is the oxygen that is allowing your business to survive and thrive. As business owners, it is crucial to realize that without happy customers there will be no business. There have been times I have stopped going to the highest quality of restaurants just because I was treated in a rude, unappreciative manner. In truth, there are countless ways to show your appreciation to customers. For us, we make sure to greet customers with a smile and “Hello, how is your day going?” Also, always make sure to thank them. While this may be taken for granted by some, if you do not do this it will be noticed by all. To enhance this, become sincere and personal with your regular customers. When working in a restaurant, I frequently would ask questions, such as “Do you have kids?”, “Who’s your favorite football team?” or “Who’s your favorite musician?” Making that initial connection will grow a relationship between your business and the customers, potentially leading to so many amazing opportunities or simply just business! Encourage a sense of community and don't be afraid to ask questions. After you get this information, talk to them about their favorite team or how their daughter’s dance recital went. These are the small things that leave a huge impact.
Final Thoughts: To summarize, there are a lot of things you can do to take your business from good to great. A lot of these things won’t cost you a dime, but they will keep your customers coming back and feel invested in the success of your business. To add, it is also a great feeling to give back to your community. The best restaurants don’t simply have great-tasting food, but they also have a great culture and their customers’ best interests at heart. Try using some of these techniques and let us know what you think! Have a great weekend, we’ll be back Monday!