Many restaurant businesses rely on the scenery to draw people in and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it can’t be the only factor that contributes to the patron’s experience. If you’re relying on fancy décor or a lake view to bring people to your restaurant, all you’ll ever have is new customers.

You must delight them with great food and great service to earn their loyalty. Successful restaurants are built on three fundamental principles: great food, great service and a great view. This blog will show you how to get the mix just right.

Define what you want your customer service to look like

Sometimes restaurants operate without a clear service plan and hope it’ll develop on its own. This is unadvisable. You need to draw up training guidelines and employee manuals to depict exactly what you want your customer service to look like so all staff have a benchmark. When there’s no clear plan, employees are forced to assume how to carry out their duties based on their past working environment. When your service is clearly defined, and you’re consistent about who you are, a great customer experience is easier to create. And a good customer experience will generate invaluable word-of-mouth recommendations for your restaurant.

Great service isn’t cultivated overnight though. Any bugs in the system must be weeded out daily, the same way a gardener weeds their garden every day. You need to teach customer service every day and hire staff with the same heart and intention as yours to replicate your hospitality.

When your restaurant isn’t easy on the eyes

If it weren’t for word-of-mouth, we wouldn’t have known to try the Cattle Baron in Storms River in the Eastern Cape. When we arrived, we saw that the restaurant was in a makeshift tent, but we decided to try it nonetheless since the place was packed. I asked the manager why the place looked the way it did. It turns out that the restaurant had burnt down the previous year. Goes to show. If it weren’t for our prior knowledge, we probably wouldn’t have tried the restaurant and what a disappointment that would have been. The food was amazing and the service was excellent.

Stroebele & De Castro, 2004, featured in this article, shows how the ambience of your restaurant influences your patrons’ perception. They introduced typical Italian symbols to a restaurant, but the menu stayed the same. The restaurant was then perceived as more authentic and the ambience affected their patrons’ behaviour. They even ordered more dessert.

How to make great food

Keep a basic menu and stick to what you’re good at. For instance, if you’re a pizzeria don’t try and sell sushi. Think about your clients and cater to their needs. Get good at what you’re serving and if it works keep serving it. Your patrons will come back and order the dish they like, but then you need to ensure it tastes the same every time. In this case, you need to be like Gordon Ramsay and enforce quality. To change things up, try weekly specials to show off the fresh produce you buy.

According to research done by Susskind & Chan (2000), food, décor and service are all important. A restaurant becomes remarkable when these elements sparkle. Patrons can recall their time spent there, days, months, even years later and attach it to a great memory.