When it comes to running a successful restaurant, reputation is everything.
Think about what you know about the restaurants in your local town – the bistro on the high street that says everything is home made yet you’ve seen a Brakes Brothers delivery van there twice a week for months, or the deli where the owner doesn’t wash his hands and has dirty fingernails. Not to mention the Chinese takeaway that has rats in the bins and the sandwich shop that ‘recycles’ the fillings.
Reputations stick long after the problems have been rectified – are you really likely to go to that Chinese, even if they print a story about them getting the all clear from Environmental Heath in the local newspaper?
Good reputations can be hard to earn and even harder to keep. Alternatively, you can say that a bad reputation is easy to get and hard to lose!
You do not want to get a bad reputation, especially if you are operating your business in a local area where people are more that happy to gossip about your potential downfall. Bare in mind that, unfortunately, some people may want to see you fail, so do not give them any reason.
Invite the Great and the Good to your Launch PartyA great way to start off with a positive reputation is to have a launch party. Find out who is important in your local area and make sure they are invited. If you don’t already know, a good place to start is to read your local newspaper and see who crops up time and time again!
It is also worth inviting people from local groups – amateur dramatics, councils and higher education establishments, for example. You could also see if there are groups such as the University for the Third Age, Women’s Institute or networking groups.
Even if you do not plan to have a launch party, contacting these groups and perhaps offering a free glass of wine on their first visit is a good way to make sure they know about your new restaurant and feel positive about it.
Use Local SuppliersThere is nothing more likely to hinder your local reputation that by buying all your suppliers from out of town. Buy as much locally as you can – fruit, vegetables, meat and fish, not to mention flowers, wine and laundry services. This makes a massive difference to your local reputation – nobody wants to think that you have started a new restaurant in the town but are buying everything in.
The same goes for staff – try to use local staff as much as possible. Put adverts in your local job center, recruitment agency or Sixth Form College. Even if you do not end up finding the right quality of staff, at least it will have been seen that you tried to recruit local people.
Earn Your ReputationPerhaps the most obvious way to build a good local reputation is to make sure that you are offering a great product – make sure your food is well prepared, politely and attentively served and that you provide good customer service.
You cannot expect to gain a great local reputation if you do not care about your food or your customers. Put them first and a good local reputation will follow.