What Sets Your Independent Restaurant Apart from the Others
By Linda Peters-Getchell
A taxi is a taxi is a taxi, right? I mean, you wave your arm in the air trying to flag one down, one finally stops, they are cars with signs saying they are a taxi, they are hopefully reasonably clean, you get in the back seat, someone drives you from one place to another and charges you a fee. You arrive at your destination. You pay them, thank them and give a tip for their service. Off you go. You most likely will never enter that cab again, but simply hail down another when you need one to repeat the experience again and again.
Well, while in Chicago for the NRA Show a couple of weeks ago my friend and I traveled by cab about 4 times per day – whoever stopped for us we got in, until we got into Charles’ cab. (Not my first story about excellent cab service.)
He stopped for us, we scooted across the backseat and as we looked about we were immediately amused. Tired as we were, we felt a little rejuvenated. We smiled and delighted in this cab that was decorated with tiny Christmas lights, tinsel garlands, little cups attached to the back of the front seats filled with penny candies and more lights and tinsel. New Orleans jazz was playing softly. Our driver was smiling and cheerful. He asked where we were going and took off headed to our destination.
We got to talking with him about his delightful and interesting cab and during the conversation he asked why we were in town and how long we would be staying. When he knew we would be around for a few days he handed us his business card and told us we could avoid the lines at the show by calling him. He worked mornings, took the early afternoon off and worked dinnertime until late in the evening. He said to just call him and let him know when and where we wanted to be picked up and he would be there for us. (The card did have a little line drawing with lights and tinsel—visual reminder of what the card represented among a stack of others you might have.)
It was a fun, festive, and totally different cab ride with a more-than-personable driver who seemed to love his job, even the traffic, and he cared about the people he chauffeured about. What cab do you think we took almost every time thereafter? You got it, we called Charles. No matter how tired we were it was a little shot of fresh energy every time we got into that cab. We felt better when we got out.
He did the same thing everyone else did and then took it one step further – decorations, fun music, a little sugar pick-me-up, and warm personal care all with the addition of a business card to give you the opportunity to repeat the experience. He added the value of not having to wait in line for a cab, and you did wait in line when the show let out each day – a long line.
I’d venture to say that your restaurant is no different than most. You serve good food – maybe great food, you have four walls, tables and chairs, servers, and you are clean.
What would you say sets you apart from all the others, from the chains? What makes people come back again and again? Do you have customers that request a specific server?
How can you make the experience of dining in your restaurant memorable and keep them coming back? How can you help your servers develop the skills to keep them coming back and even requesting them?
Linda Peters-Getchell has 20 years in restaurant management and food and beverage customer service. She has owned her own restaurant and catering service, developed unique training programs and won two Key Player Awards for her customer service programs at Showboat Casino Hotel. She is currently a powerful creative force for restaurant expert David Scott Peters and his company, Smile Button Enterprises, serving as Fairy Godmother.