With fierce direct and indirect competition in the restaurant industry, retaining customers is a tricky business. Diners today have a plethora of restaurant options to choose from. In Spite of having the same restaurant format and selling similar products, some brands display signs of high customer loyalty, whereas others fail to grow their customer network. While selecting their desired place to eat, there are multiple factors that customers consider. How and why do customers choose a restaurant over others? This is an important question that every restaurateur ponders upon. This article highlights the essential evaluation criteria of customers while choosing a restaurant brand over others.
Factors Affecting Customers Decision To Choose A Restaurant Brand Over Another
Here is a list of 8 essential considerations that impact a customer’s decision when choosing a restaurant brand.
Food is an integral part of a customer’s experience with the brand. The taste and quality of the food is what keeps the customers hooked to a restaurant. Food that is cooked to perfection has the capability to make up for anything that goes wrong in the customer’s dine-in experience.
Food quality is the key attribute that drives customers to choose a restaurant over others. An interim report by the National Restaurant Association of India (NRAI) says that 23% of consumers rank the quality of food to be the most important factor while choosing a restaurant. A people’s choice restaurant ensures that from the kitchen to the tables, quality standards are maintained and followed by the restaurant staff.
Customers highly value brands that offer a uniform consistency in their food. After several repeat visits, an intact taste and texture of the dishes elevate the customer’s experience with the brand. Unique menu offerings and distinctive ways of food presentation also attract customers.
Even on busy days, no customer would prefer waiting for long hours in the queue. Keeping a hungry customer waiting for too long has adverse effects on the brand image.
The quality of service that a restaurant offers largely affects the decision making of customers. The swiftness of the restaurant in optimizing the order preparation time and delivering orders to the customers on time is what differentiates a restaurant brand from another. Restaurants that promote frequent training sessions also provide impeccable services to the customers. Efficient order delivery and friendly staff that take note of all the customer requirements encourage repeat visits by customers.
3. Value For Money
Is the restaurant’s menu pricing justifiable? A significant evaluation criteria while choosing a restaurant over another is the price a restaurant asks from the customers. When it is about choosing one restaurant over another, customers want value for money. As long as the restaurant offers value and quality in its products, customers do not mind paying higher prices. While value for money and ‘cheap’ doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing, it merely reflects the expectations of a customer in terms of elements such as quality of food, uniqueness in the dishes, portion size, overall ambiance, service, etc. A restaurant that is able to deliver value and cater to these expectations of the customer is always the first choice of the customer.
A restaurant that offers delicious food and exceptional services but still doesn’t get adequate visitors could be suffering because it is poorly located. This is why, while setting up a restaurant, a lot of emphasis is given to the location. Ease of access is one of the key reasons for customers choosing a restaurant.
Preference is generally not given to those restaurants that are located in isolated areas or interiors. Lack of parking space and poor accessibility is a significant turnoff factor for customers.
Apart from the visibility and accessibility factor, not choosing an area according to the format of the restaurant also results in low footfall. A posh fine dining restaurant near a crowded industrial area would not attract the targeted audience. A good location is beneficial and preferred not only by customers but also by restaurateurs. It grants more visibility and better accessibility to the customers and guarantees more footfall and reduced marketing costs for restaurateurs.
For customers, eating out is not just about food; it is the overall experience that holds a lot of significance. An ambiance that reflects the aesthetics and the unique elements of the brand creates a lasting impact on the customers. The interior design, lighting, decorative items, furniture, etc. complement the theme of the restaurant, making the restaurant’s environment pleasant.
Irrespective of the restaurant format and the area in which it is established, the effectiveness of a restaurant brand in utilizing the entire space creates a more substantial visual appeal for the customers.
The choice of entertainment also impacts customer experience with a restaurant brand. A complete dining experience is the one that appeals to the customer’s sight, hearing and smell senses. Such a restaurant ambiance that is able to evoke emotions in the customers with its distinctive yet personalized elements generates a memorable experience for the customers and converts the first time visitors to regular customers.
Diners today are well aware of and display concern over the hygiene standards of a restaurant. Be it a filthy restroom experience or dirty plates; an unclean restaurant leaves a wrong impression on the minds of customers. Customers form a negative opinion about the restaurant’s overall establishment, as it could pose a potential health risk. A clean restaurant indicates the seriousness it attaches to the well-being of their customers. That is why customers prefer a clean restaurant that not only elevates their dining experience but also gains their trust.
Customers demand convenience from the restaurants they visit. Whether it is about personalization in dine-in orders or instant online ordering, restaurants that have adapted according to the evolving demands of the customers have gained a competitive advantage. Technology innovations have become the most significant evaluation criteria for providing convenience to customers.
Customers prefer restaurants that are easy to find on multiple food delivery platforms and provide customizations in the orders. Restaurants that have enabled hassle-free ordering taking with self-ordering kiosks, tablets, and in-built mobile apps have witnessed a hike in the overall sales. One of the franchisees of QSR giant McDonalds observed a hike of 15 percent in the total sales after implementing self-ordering kiosks in the outlet.
8. Reviews/ Word Of Mouth
Before choosing the perfect place to dine-in, modern-day diners keep a close check on the ratings and reviews received by the restaurant. Customers tend to trust local influencers, food bloggers and reviewers more than going by the word of celebrities. Word of mouth recommendations or online reviews give a reality check to customers. Based on the feedback they hear or read, they form opinions about the restaurants.
Therefore, restaurateurs need to be extremely careful about how customers perceive their brand. Brands that are quick in responding to a negative review posted on the digital platforms and seek constant feedback about the food and services are preferred by customers.
Regardless of the size and format of your restaurant, making a note of the customer’s needs and requirements will go a long way in achieving customer loyalty and help you run a profitable restaurant. Take constant feedback from your customers and make customer satisfaction your topmost priority!