When you wrote your business plan and put your house up as security for that rather large bank loan, I’m sure you weren’t thinking ‘I can’t wait to fail in my new business venture’ were you? No? So, don’t.
The following are some of the more ridiculous, but valid reasons your food and beverage business will eventually close its doors. Don’t do them (and other ridiculous things), and you’ll not just survive your business but you’ll succeed in it. You’ll probably end up selling it for a million bucks and living out your retirement on a banana recliner in the Bahamas. One Piña Colada please!
# 1 – Pay someone crap money to be your Maitre D.
If you’re too cheap to care about your customer’s first impression of your business, let a random staff member greet diners at the door! Their lack luster personality is just the ticket to ensuring failure for your business.
Why would this be bad, I’m saving money right?
If I get some sulky faced ‘I’m not even supposed to be here today’ server greeting me at the door, I’m likely to eat my meal like it was the last I’d ever have. Not because it’s amazing but because I’m now so depressed, I just want to go home and overdose on Tim Tams. Unless your food was to the standard of a Michelin star restaurant I likely would not be back. I can get depressed on my own without leaving my house thank-you-very-much, by watching The Notebook (it’s the 10 year anniversary, can you believe it?!).
Reality: My first impression of your business will determine how much money I’m about to spend. No matter if you’re a casual dining cafe or a formal restaurant, you need to have someone ahmazing greeting diners as they enter your premises. They should ‘touch base’ with me and my fellow diners throughout the night and should always have their finger on the pulse of the finer touches; filled water carafes, fresh napkins and toilet paper stocks. Seriously. This also applies to your staff presentation, whether your bathroom is clean, and whether the lipstick has been successfully washed off my glass. Ick.
#2 – Serve brown lettuce.
Can’t be bothered quality controlling the food that’s about to get shoved into my gob (in the most lady like and delicate way possible)? Great, you’re doomed for failure!
But I can’t be bothered buying decent produce.
Weigh up the pros and cons of buying quality produce. Pros: my customers will be satisfied, my chefs will love me for it, I will be content in the knowledge that I am providing my diners with the best produce available. Cons: SNAP! There are none.
Reality: Caring for your lettuce and giving it the respect it deserves shows me you care about the little things. If you’re just going to grab a lettuce out of the fridge and pull it apart like a crayfish and shove it on my plate without washing and quality controlling what I’m about to eat, then what other shortcuts are you taking? Do you even wash your hands? You get my Steve right? Of course you do.
#3 – Serve cake and deserts with whipped cream… from a can!
It’s really time consuming to get your staff to freshly whip cream isn’t it? Plus, you may not use it all and some of it might go to waste, it’s just not worth it right? Wrong, sucker.
They’re not going to know the difference. Want a bet? That perfectly twirled cream with sharp edges and perfect peak cannot be mistaken. If the proof isn’t evident upon sight, then it only takes that first mouthful to confirm that yes, you’re eating metallic tasting greasy air. Awesome!
Reality: Most cafes and restaurants charge over $8 for items on their desert menu and that’s a fair price for most as they’re more than likely going to be well presented, the right size (although I could always do with more) and super tasty. So why would you serve a decadent ‘mud cake’ with canned whipped cream? It’s not even going to do what it should and tame your pallet for the next bite. It’s air. Get it? AIR! Shortcuts will kill your business.
#4 Provide flannels for hand towels in your super modern bathroom… with no backup option.
Yah, because everyone loves using the bathroom in the middle of a lovely meal only to find that all the hand towels have been used and our only drying options are our Pierre Cardin suits or the one ply toilet paper you’ve ‘treated’ our butts to.
But it looks good. It might, but what doesn’t look good, is a glamorous woman exiting the bathroom rubbing her hands on her sequined dress because there was no other hand-drying option. Bad look.
Reality: If you’re going to offer something with a limited supply as a solution to guests in the bathroom, make sure you have ridiculous amounts of it readily available. Or, here’s a light bulb moment: have an air dryer fixed to the wall as a secondary option! It’s all about constant and consistent supply.
#5 – Provide free water… but never top it up.
I’ve taken your order, I’ve served your food, I know you don’t want desert, so now I don’t care what happens to you. Awesome attitude right? Hmm, not so much. I’m present from the time I walk in to your establishment until the moment I leave and I want to be treated as such the whole way through. Don’t forget about me, I’ll know. I’LL KNOW!
But they’ll never BUY a drink! Maybe some people don’t feel the need to drink carbonated or alcoholic drinks while they’re enjoying a meal. Perhaps they just want a little something plain to wash down their filet mignon? Is that okay? It should be. There are plenty of drinkers out there to keep the cash flowing in, so settle down.
Reality: If you don’t have water readily available at the bar, serve it to the table immediately. It is the simplest of offerings to show your diner that you care. Many American and Thai restaurants go one step further by placing a small complimentary appetiser on the table upon arrival… something that doesn’t need to cost you a fortune, but adds that extra touch that will be remembered.
Did you read through the list and say ‘phew’ at every point? Good for you. You must really care for your business and the people who keep it alive. It’s all about the little things and making your customers feel appreciated.
Remember that for some, they may get a night out only every few months, or even once a year. To come for dinner at your establishment is a special moment for them. Don’t ruin it by being cheap and uncaring, serving up canned whipped cream on brown lettuce rolled in used hand towels. Be the best you can be, and it will reflect in your cash flow.
Please leave a comment below if you would like to RECOMMEND an overall outstanding cafe or restaurant in New Zealand or beyond. We seriously don’t want to hear about the bad ones ok? Thanks!