Last weekend I found myself looking for a restaurant in central Paris, now with the French reputation for good food you would think that it would be easy but it wasn’t. We walked miles looking for somewhere to take our fancy but there was little to differentiate one restaurant from another. They looked the same, the menus were indistinguishable and the prices all comparable. On Friday night we got it wrong and had a dreadful overpriced meal and when we got the bill they tried to overcharge us for wine.
Determined to do better on Saturday night we asked the hotel receptionist for a recommendation, he couldn’t recommend anywhere special at short notice but did tell us which area to head for. Our meal was better but unexciting and not great value.
Stand out from the crowd.
I know we were in the main tourist area so perhaps it’s too easy for restaurants to fill their tables with one time visitors but when we were there few of the restaurants were really busy. Waiters tended to be standing by the doorway encouraging people to come in to their restaurant but is that the best way to win business? I think not.
Prospects need help to choose who to spend their money with. When there is nothing to distinguish one option from another they are confused and find it difficult to make a decision. Every business needs to stand out from the crowd by offering something different to its competitors. In the case of a restaurant it might be a different menu, a different ambiance or a different pricing model. One Japanese restaurant had some mocked up dishes in the window, it was full. Perhaps some positive quotes from Trip Adviser with the menu display would have helped.
Every customer is important.
Tourists may not give a restaurant long term repeat business but that does not mean they have no influence. How many people consult Trip Advisor for recommendations when visiting an unfamiliar place? A negative review can lose business, a positive one could really help fill tables. Surely it’s important for every business to give every customer a good experience even if they might only visit once.
What are the lessons for the small business owner?
Make it easy for prospects to choose you. Is it easy for them to understand your offer? Can they see how you differ from your competitors? Do they recognise the benefits your product or service will give them? What steps do you take to make sure that people of influence, like the hotel receptionist, know enough about you to ensure they recommend you?