How to keep your guests coming back again and again
By James Viles, Owner and Head Chef, Biota, BARN. by Biota & Bertha's Meats
It doesn't take much to deliver a good guest experience. All it really boils down to is one simple thing: did you give the guest what they were expecting? This is true, not just for businesses like mine, in the traditional "hospitality" space, but for all businesses, from a hotel to a car dealership to an everyday office.
Of course, if any old business can deliver a good guest experience just like that, we need to cook up something that separates us from the pack - to feed our guests the kind of experience that helps build long-term relationships. Now, I know what you're thinking: "Here comes the champers and caviar." Although tasty, that's not the answer.
This is how to keep your guests and clients coming back again and again. (Hint: it's all in the detail.)
Nespresso Professional at Biota makes serving high-quality, sustainably sourced coffee a breeze
Top down consistency
Hands down, the toughest aspect of creating a great experience is consistency. This means every part of your business - your staff, your products and property - speaks to the same quality and values. Is your restaurant or business frequented by families? Then your waitstaff, menu and/or facilities better cater to kids. Is the environment important to you? Great! Back it up through each of your processes and products, down to the finest details of how you do business.
At Biota, quality and sustainability are essential to what we do - from the ingredients we source to the way our gardens are nourished. We also have Nespresso Professional machines on site to serve coffee, because, not only is their coffee sustainably sourced, their aluminium capsules and coffee grounds are recyclable. We can then easily send our capsules to Nespresso's recycling facility in Nowra. Additionally, the capsules and machines use exacting consumption methods so there's never any wasted coffee, water or energy-use. It's all about sustainability, quality and consistency.
Wait on the waiters
Nobody likes waiting. It's 2019, we're busy; we don't have time to spare. Unfortunately, no matter how tight a ship you run, at some point people are going to have to wait. Actually, the more successful and popular you become, the more likely this is the case. The trick to taking the bite out of your guests' wait is this: make them forget they're waiting at all.
In a perfect world we would all have a nice and comfy dedicated waiting area. Sadly, this isn't always possible, but that doesn't mean you can't make your guests in queue feel welcome and attended to. Something as simple as offering a cup of coffee or a glass of wine can go a long way. A great guest experience starts from the second they walk in the door.
Often the little things make the greatest difference to a guest's experience
Keep it fresh but don't forget your roots
There's a lot of truth in the saying 'if it's not broken, don't fix it'. The problem, from a business perspective, is when this is used as an excuse to become complacent and inflexible. Over time, tastes change, your guests change, and new trends and expectations crop up. While it's important to stick to your guns and what's worked for you in the past, it's also important to keep things fresh. For example, if you're running a restaurant in 2019 without a healthy option, you're behind the eight ball of what people expect.
Convenience goes a long way
Usually, the more of a hassle it is to do something, the less keen we are to do it. One of the best ways to keep your guests coming back is to make their experience as convenient as possible. Easy to book? Of course! Split bills? No worries! Got a special request or requirement? We'll do whatever we can to cater to it. Even something as simple as making sure there is easy customer parking very nearby. It's not rocket science, but it still baffles me to see a group of outgoing guests awkwardly scratching around their wallets while they try to decide who's going to foot the bill. More often than not, dining out is a social experience, yet somehow there are restaurants out there still taking payment as if it's a one-man show. Don't let inconvenience be the reason your guests choose not to return.
Personalisation and appreciation goes even further
Nothing makes someone feel more welcome than a personalised touch. Consider your local lunch spot. I'm willing to bet that within your first couple of visits they somehow remembered your name and order. How on earth did they do that? you wondered. You were amazed, appreciated…important. Now, here you are, five haloumi wraps later, a regular. If anything underlines the huge impact these tiny details can have, this is it. Remember a name, an order, an anecdote, hold a door, make them feel valued and they will keep coming back again and again.
To put a hospitality spin on one of my favourite quotes: your guests "might forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel."