Dining out should be a feel good experience. Patrons select your restaurant to feed their hunger, socialize with friends, meet with business colleagues, enjoy family time or escape from the grind of their day.
Consumers today believe they have less time. They actually have the same 168 hours they had twenty years ago, but with the demands of life and information overload from news and marketing noise, they often enter your restaurant feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.
As a restaurant operator, you also likely experience the same stress. Our world is too complicated. There are too many choices and there is so much constant banter that our brain space is tapped out.
Here’s a strategy that not only can add value to your customers’ experience, but will also add your business well-being.
Simplify things. Do less better.
I’ve always been a big fan of simplicity. If an experience is easy, clear, simple and direct, I’m all over and I want to do business with brands that deliver this. A great and simple restaurant experience is no different.
In a recent study by Vistage, a leading executive coaching organization, it was reported that simplification is a key trend and market opportunity for companies in all sectors. In 2000, a key trend was the growth of choice. More, more, more! But a backlash has begun, as more and more consumers suffer choice fatigue. They want less, less, less! Today consumers increasingly seek, not unlimited choice, but an edited choice and simpler experiences.
Also, in an August cover story in Nation’s Restaurant News, they reported doing less and simplifying things is helping restaurants gain traction with customers. Revenues are increasing with fewer menu items being offered. Similar to the Vistage viewpoint, a few years back it was all about adding more to stay relevant, so menus grew. Today cutting menu choices is easing customer stress, boosting food delivery time, and increasing productivity and quality from the eatery.
“Customers are gravitating toward specialty concepts and away from broader menus.” From NRN August 24, 2015 cover story.
What can you simplify?
1) Eliminate menu items
Consider these highly successful national restaurant concepts that keep their menus super simple, Chipotle, In-N-Out Burger and Chick-fil-A. Why not focus on doing fewer things really well instead of trying to be all to everyone? By simplifying your menu, the customer experience is better and you reduce operational challenges around staff training, food presentation and supply procurement at the same time. You also have an opportunity to carve out a name for yourself with a specific menu item. Become the go-to place for (fill in the blank).
2) Use fewer ingredients
Another big purchasing trend is consumers want clean food, with fewer ingredients and less stuff they can’t pronounce, this idea carries over into dining decisions, too.
3) Minimalize your décor
If your restaurant has some years on it, it’s likely you collected some extra stuff in your décor, too. Why not do a walk though and lighten up your environment, eliminate things that don’t add to a WOW experience and let a fewer items really shine.
4) Tighten up your branding and marketing content
Remember customers are inundated with so much information, many have turned into hardcore scanners. This means headlines are more important than ever and eliminating unnecessary words in your menu, website and promotional materials can help too.
Simplifying a business is not always easy. It’s much easier adding stuff than being discipline and eliminating things. In the end, keeping things simple in your restaurant will earn you more customer love and you’ll feel better too.
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