Improve Patron Experience with these 5 Opportunities
When patrons walk into your restaurant, they’re looking forward to an experience. Their experience begins with your intentionality about all elements of your restaurant, even many that get overlooked. Missed opportunities on your part can mean empty seats. Don’t miss another opportunity to improve patron experience and impress your guests, leaving them with an experience they’ll remember and recommend. When improving patron experience, here are a few common areas restaurants miss.
Improve Patron Experience in Your Restaurant with these 5 Tips
1 – Silence
You may know how to add elements to your restaurant, but do you know how to take away? Sometimes elimination makes your brand stand out.
Silence is auditory and visual. Adding elements to your restaurant is like carefully choosing your words. You don’t want it to be overcrowded or filled with a glut of sound or decor that do not give patrons space to experience something unique. When you add colors, light, “flare,” flowers, music, fragrance, decor, new menu options, or any other element, make sure you’re making a choice, not just filling “emptiness.” Quiet is not always bad; silence is not always awkward. Fewer menu options are sometimes relaxing. Could your patrons use more of that?
2 – Sound
Nearly all establishments have background music these days. It would be a very bold and distinctive move to take all background music out of a restaurant—and who knows? Maybe you’re a trailblazer!
But most of the time, you want sound to enhance your patron experience. When is it time to turn up the radio or hire the jazz band? How loud do patrons want the restaurant atmosphere to be, and at what times of day? Can patrons hear the kitchen? Can tables hear themselves talk? The volume level must always be intentional on your part, never accidental.
Especially watch noise in spaces with hardwood or concrete floors, and high ceilings. And explore solutions for controlling sound if you need to, such as thicker table linens, curtains, or Acousti-Coat paint.
3 – Light
Do you know how light settles in your restaurant at different times of day? Spend a week noticing. Are there areas that get too much light in the morning, or too little in the evening? How does your light affect temperature? Finally, how does it affect the feel of your restaurant? You may want less natural light during certain times of the day. Or you may need more, and rearrange the furniture or shades to keep light flowing.
Have fun exploring your options: LED or fluorescent vs. incandescent, candles, color track vs. overhead, etc. But use caution. Fluorescent light is budget-friendly, but it can be costly to patron experience. Many people spend their working days under fluorescent light and may associate this lighting with an “office” atmosphere. Other patrons will have sensitivity to fluorescent light, causing eye strain and headaches. If you use fluorescent, explore options low on the blue end of the spectrum and high on the yellow.
4 – Outdoors
Don’t neglect your outdoor space. It’s the place where patron experience begins, and the gateway into your restaurant. How do you want to say “welcome,” and give patrons a taste of what’s to come?
Plants add color, texture, and scent. They give shade and feed our souls. Whether lush or minimalist, your landscaping wraps around your restaurant and contributes greatly to atmosphere. Get with a landscaper who understands your vision for your restaurant. You need your landscaping to look like your brand. And you need a service that can help you take care of your unique exterior throughout the year. Horsetail grass and cacti give a much different impression and require much different care than peonies and honeysuckle. Shop around.
Patrons need to find it easy to find parking, and not have to worry that they might blow a tire over a broken bit of concrete or get towed because they could not read the faded parking signs. You want to also consider lighting at night: not blinding, but enough for patrons to feel safe.
Providing protection from sun and weather almost goes without saying. You can also use this as an intentional branding move. For example, do you enclose your patio in a temperature-controlled awning, or keep it open air and plant butterfly bushes next to the tables? Do you allow a few sparrows and pigeons around for charm, or do you discourage their presence to leave diners in peace? Decide what you want, and remain intensely vigilant about adequate table bussing.
5 – Restroom
A dirty restroom or inconvenient restroom visit can turn a patron’s experience around for the worse in the blink of an eye. Keeping your restroom clean and well-stocked must be an absolute top priority. Don’t take your good record for granted. Hour by hour can give you a different situation. Spills, overflowing trash, understocked supplies, bad smell: for want of a restroom check…
Put yourself in patrons’ shoes. For example, quaint quotes, funny placards, event or Happy Hour announcements, framed photographs of your restaurant history or of the locale—these are all great ideas for restroom atmosphere. Extremely loud music, or detailed menu descriptions posted inside the stalls—perhaps less so. Finally, make extra toilet paper, facial tissue, and air fresheners easy to find.
The restroom is a great place to use scent as an extension of your atmosphere. Is your restaurant relaxing? Modern? Organic? Romantic? Soaps, air fresheners, hand lotions, and flowers can all help add to whatever atmosphere you’re trying to create restaurant-wide. Add fragrance to your repertoire, and employ it in the restroom.
What are patrons saying about their own experience? You won’t know until you ask! With Original Review, every check means an opportunity for patron feedback, leaving you with dozens to hundreds of new reviews a day. Want to see how it works for you? Try a demo!