With the holiday season in full-swing and lower gas prices, your restaurant may be seeing an increase in traffic. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, the NRA performance index rose to 102.8 in October, an increase from September. While gas prices may not stay low and the holiday season will be over before we know it, the increase of traffic is an opportunity to turn the customers coming through your doors into loyal ones. The customer service you provide these new (and returning) customers will play a big factor into whether they return or not.
The Rush of New Customers
The performance index measured by The National Restaurant Association combines the current situation index (actual sales) with the expectations index (projected sales). This is a monthly survey of information tracked from operators around the world. More than half of the operators surveyed said they expect more increases in the next 6 months in sales. Another important finding from the survey is the amount of operators reporting increases in their current situation index. Nation’s Restaurant News reported on the finding in a recent article.
“71 percent of operators said same-store sales improved in October, rising from 63 percent who said sales improved in September.”
Not only are sales increasing, but traffic is as well. Nation’s Restaurant News‘ article states that a little over half of operators surveyed said they had more customers coming through their door than the previous months. It has been suggested that this increase in sales and people choosing to eat out is due to the lower gas prices. That variable combined with the holiday season could benefit your restaurant.
Giving Customers A Reason to Come Back
Expendable income and the ease of eating out are driving traffic increases in restaurants across the country. This is an opportunity for your restaurant to take these prospects and turn them into repeat customers. Customer service and how your guests are treated is a key factor. There are multiple ways to define good customer service and it can be different depending on the type of restaurant. There is one factor that can be agreed upon and it is providing a positive experience. The food your restaurant serves can be the best in the city, but if a customer feels they haven’t been treated with respect, they probably won’t be back.
First, it is important to have a staff meeting to ensure everyone is on the same page. It only takes one person not buying into the customer first mentality to bring your service down. While some argue the “the customer is always right”, this way of thinking can be used in a different way. During the rush, have your staff ask themselves “what I am doing to benefit the customer”? This is way to challenge them to keep the customer at the forefront in their decision making.
Next, emphasize patience with your staff. Guests are going to use their phones, they may take forever to decide what they want to eat or might complain about their food. These are opportunities to show your customers that you care about their needs and you want to make sure they are getting fulfilled. Lastly, let your personality shine through. Having fun with the guests will make your restaurant inviting. Show them that your restaurant is filled with good people. This will speak volumes to the new customers coming through your doors. While trends always change, the way you treat your guests should stay the same. Exceeding the expectations of your guests can set your restaurant apart and leave a positive sentiment that will outlast the low gas prices and holiday season.