Guests who come and go from a restaurant continue to be forgotten before the food is even served. To change this reality, my preference is to think beyond "restaurant marketing" and instead turn to guerrilla marketing.
The term was coined and defined by Jay Conrad Levinson in his book Guerrilla Marketing. The term has since entered the popular vocabulary and marketing textbooks.
The concept of guerrilla marketing was invented as an unconventional system of promotions that relies on time, energy and imagination rather than a big marketing budget.
Guerrilla marketing is about using time, energy and imagination. This applies to the touch points in a restaurant. Let's look at the many touch points a restaurant has.
Where is the guest is lost to a restaurant 'forever'?
Here are the touch points a restaurant team has with guests from the parking lot, full circle back to the parking lot when departing.
Touch point opportunity #1
From the parking lot to the lobby, no interaction.
Touch point opportunity #2
In the lobby a question is asked upon arrival: "Two?"
Touch point opportunity #3
Off to the table at a rapid pace.
Touch point opportunity #4
The sit down. Menus on the table to designate as a marking device where to sit.
Touch point opportunity #5
The brief moment to ask "Coffee?" or "Something from the lounge?" After the very brisk walk to the table, I think oxygen could be a menu item.
Touch point opportunity #6
The next phase is the introduction to the menu. Where people stare and turn pages. The server arrives and "Have you decided" is asked or the question might be: "Our specials tonight are...".
The restaurant is already leaving a memory of the experience. There is nothing special for the guest to remember and yet plenty of time has passed.
There has been at least 5 to 6 "touch points" to make an introduction and/or invitation.
When will the invitation to join or share, to introduce themselves be made?
Touch point opportunity #7
The wait. Once the order is made, more time passes. The meal is being prepared and the guests may or may not be engaged in a private conversation. Their body language is a signal about how engaged they are in a conversation.
Touch point opportunity #8
The delivery. The meal is delivered to the table (or possibly for takeout). There might be a confirmation of what was ordered but usually not.
Touch point opportunities #9, #10, #11.
The meal. The race back by the server before too many bites are taken. "How is everything?" Ever notice how there is one spokesperson for the whole table? If one says "fine", the rest must be?
There is a possibility of a supervisor or floor lead to stop for a moment. The questions are superbly thought out and show deep thought and interest:
"How is everything?" "Is everything to your satisfaction?" "Is there more I can do for you?"
Touch point opportunity #13
The dessert offering. "Does anyone have room for dessert this evening?" A smart server does not wait until the last bite is taken and everyone is full. A smart server does not have a check in hand already totaled in anticipation of a "no".
Touch point opportunity #14
The check. This is when a server smiles the most. Moments away from a gratuity and the best time to make an impression. There is confusion as to why it is acceptable to make this last moment the most energetic and happiest.
Touch point opportunity #14
The moment of leaving the table, gathering purses, coats, personal belongings has people lingering for just a moment. It is a moment of transition.
Touch point opportunity #15
Walking to the lobby. At times there is a check in hand and the destination is the cash register. This hike to the cash register or to the lobby is an open invitation opportunity.
Touch point opportunity #16
In the lobby there is a decision to be made. Use the restroom first? There is a moment of hesitation. There may be good-bye's, pulling up the collar, a peak out to see the weather. Reaching for keys before departing out the door is often on the departure list.
Touch poing opportunity #17
To the car in the parking lot, there is a focus on remembering the location of the car and the next events.
The guest may have already forgetten their experience by the time the key is in the ignition.
The restaurant guest will not be remembered since there has been no attempt to remember the guest. The guest is not likely to remember the restaurant.
What happens when the restaurant staff introduce themselves with a "Hello, my name is Janet Lastname, what's yours?"
If over the course of an hour, three on the restaurant staff made personal introductions just as other people do when first meeting, does this change the experience
There was once a time that a "guest book" was a part of restaurants. Upgrade the guest book to a Facebook guest book by using an iPad or Tablet PC. Foursquare and Yelp also offer opportunities.
With a digital camera in hand, the question might be "Are you celebrating something special?" There are many reasons to take a photo to create a memory of the occassion.
"Can we send it immediately to your email address?" opens the door to do more than a transaction. The photo becomes a memory.
To allow a guest to leave a restaurant without several introductions and a reason to share contact information is a shame.
Say: "Yes" to having a culture and system in place where every guest is remembered (and be remembered). There are many touch point opportunities to learn what a guest loves, their celebrations, and if they would like to have a "special pass" for extra appetizers or desserts.
When the guest arrives, is it a race? When the key goes in the ignition after dining in the restaurant, are their thoughts on the future problems or of the restaurant they just departed from?
Which of the touchpoint opportunities is best for introductions and invitations at your restaurant?
- Contact info options:
- Twitter Handle
- Cell Phone (for texting specials)
Birthday, anniversary, first date, first day on the job are but a few reasons to celebrate. Asking the guest about their NEXT celebration is another reason to exchange contact info. They can expect a special inviation for their next special day.
Step back and look at how you will improve opportunities at each touch point. It is the focus on improving service that improves their memory.
Restaurateurs may believe they are in the food business. Maybe they are in the amazing memory business.