How Do Customers Choose A Restaurant: 20 Reasons You Must Know


As a restaurant worker do you ever think of why do the customers choose your restaurant above all others? I can imagine you do as I have on multiple occasions and it is really hard to objectively look at your own restaurant or workplace and see all the perks and flaws as clearly as the customers do.

There is an easy way to know how do the customers choose a restaurant. Simply think about why do you choose a specific restaurant when you are about to go out to dine. There are many reasons why you would choose one instead of another and this article is all about understanding these factors and digging into the essentials on what you can improve. However, there are some aspects that are way harder to improve at least overnight than others.

Without further due, let’s check out the reasons.

Foods quality

After all, restaurants are all about food and that’s the main reason why customers come to dine in restaurants. The food must be of good quality and in most cases, if the customers enjoy the food, they will come back at another time which is extremely valuable in the restaurant business.

If the customer hasn’t been to your restaurant before the only thing they get an idea of what do you offer and is it of good quality is the pictures and menu. That’s the first impression so you will need to impress them or otherwise they will probably leave.

Restaurant’s location

Location is an important factor in why customers choose a restaurant. If the customers are passing by, catching a movie near your restaurant, visiting someone, etc, that’s where the organic traffic comes from.

However, if you have great reviews and a nice website, many people will come into the restaurant just for the dining experience so even when location is really important, the restaurant isn’t doomed even if it isn’t in the ideal spot.

Restaurant’s cuisine

As I write these reasons down I’m thinking oh this is important, oh this is as important and everything seems equally important because most of these are. The cuisine has a huge effect on why customers choose a specific restaurant. Most people like Italian, Chinese, Nepalese, etc, so try to keep the cuisine where the masses are. I have seen some pretty weird restaurant cuisines and menus in my day and I wasn’t surprised that they weren’t full even in the highest rush hour on the day. So choose it carefully.

Menu

The menu comes after you have chosen the cuisine. Many people choose the restaurant they are going to dine from the menu and I personally have looked up the menu from the restaurant’s website and see if there is something that I like. It’s rare that the menu doesn’t have anything that I wouldn’t like.

However, I would give a piece of advice especially in the modern days where there are so many allergies, vegans, and other special diets. You should have ingredients for the minorities and especially veganism is trending at the moment and it isn’t going anywhere, on the contrary, it is rapidly rising so if you add vegan choices to your menu you will open your doors to an even bigger crowd which will lead to more profit.

Price

The price needs to be thought through carefully. You don’t want to price your dishes too high especially if your restaurant isn’t fine dining or other ”more valued” restaurant. However, it is a big mistake to set the prices too low for a couple of reasons. First, you will obviously get less profit which is always bad, and second, it can come off as low-quality even if it wasn’t. It’s like buying jewelry, nobody wants to wear a $2 necklace but doesn’t want to overpay either.

Style

Restaurant type is important and whether it is a diner, café, fast food establishment, fine dining restaurant, sports bar or anything between it will have an effect on the customers choice. Certain styles attract certain types of people so before starting a restaurant you should familiarize yourself with the locals and find out if it is a major student town, occupied by many retirees or what. This will even further accelerate your business’s success.

Ambiance

Depending on the restaurant’s style, nearly always there needs to be some kind of positive ambiance. Creating a relaxed, cozy, and intimate ambiance will attract a lot of people on date nights, special holidays, or just people looking to have a good chat accompanied by a delicious course.

On the other hand, you will want to create a whole another kind of ambiance for a fast-food restaurant in order to affect the customers differently. The restaurant’s lighting has a huge effect on creating the right kind of ambiance.

Online Reviews

If you’re about to try a new restaurant, is there a time that you haven’t looked at the online reviews? They play so important part in today’s world and other people’s opinions are where people trust nowadays more than ever, especially when they are online for everyone to see. This doesn’t apply only to the restaurant’s reviews but all.

There’s TripAdvisor, Yelp, Facebook, Google Business, and countless others where reviews of most restaurants are available, you should have as well because it could help to get more customers.

Service

Quality customer service is an essential part of the restaurant business and one of the most important ones. If the waiter is professional and kind, the customers will surely remember it forever when they pass by your restaurant and there’s a chance they come again because of the positive dining experience.

On the other hand, customers will remember even better when the service is bad and even worse if the waiter is mean on just doesn’t care. In this case, you should include further education to the servers or think about ways on how to motivate your employees.

Values

If you place two restaurants beside and the other one is known to donate to charity, cares about the environment and reduces food waste with great intent, supports local kid’s sports teams and hosts events in the honor of some important cause, and the other one doesn’t do pretty much anything, most customers will pick the first one no questions asked.

It’s important to do something for the greater good and usually, you will lose small amounts of money first but make no mistake, you will get that multiple times back when the word is out there. Don’t get me wrong, getting money should never be the cause for doing good for the community.

Hygiene

Imagine sitting at a dirty table where is something unidentified in front of you, gum under the table, and the floor is so sticky that your shoes nearly glue in it. In this case, you would probably run away and never return.

Taking good care of cleaning and using proper commercial cleaning supplies will help drastically if you want to efficiently keep the restaurant-worthy for yourself and for customers. In the restaurant business, there’s no such thing as out of sight out of mind but you and the staff should always clean properly and with good consciousness behind the appliances where people might not see.

Mouth to mouth recommendations

We previously talked about online reviews, well mouth to mouth recommendations don’t have the same reach as online reviews, but the power of them is way higher. Imagine getting a recommendation from your family member or friend, that’s much more interesting and you pay much more attention to that than one online review.

That goes backward as well, let’s say that you get a horror story of a restaurant from your friend. The one thing is certain that you will evade that restaurant like a plague and the chances are that you will tell the story to somebody else and so on. After a while, hundreds of people might have heard that story so always thrive to offer a good dining experience for the customers.

Brand reputation

If your restaurant has an established reputation or even a brand, people will have more trust in that. Some people may have negative experiences about the brand so it works in this way as well.

I’ll compare the brands so you will have a better understanding. I personally love Burger King, there haven’t been any problems for me there, the food is great, and I think things are floating forward pretty steadily so I enjoy going to the Burger King, where ever it might be. On the second hand, I dislike Taco Bell a lot… I have had rude service there multiple times, wrong orders, and insanely long waiting times so I practically boycott that place. Even if most Taco Bells are probably more than fine.

You get the idea from that story that brand reputation matters a lot and most of the people have similar experiences with some brands, whether that is is some restaurant, clothing store, etc.

Past experiences

Past experiences will determine will the customer ever come back to your restaurant or forget it forever. This part is really important because restaurants usually have many loyal regular customers which bring in reliable and consistent profit and a well-wanted presence. This is why a restaurant must keep consistent quality and customer service all the time so potential regulars don’t be thrown out the window.

Events

Hosting entertainment on the holidays, weekends, or some innovative idea will have a huge boost in customer volume during those days, and even better events will elevate the recognition and reputation of a restaurant so new customers will come in even if it isn’t a holiday or an event taking place. There are so many events whether it is a holiday or not, I have listed some great and popular ones below starting with holidays.

  • New Years party
  • Little Christmas
  • St Patrick’s day
  • Valentines day
  • Easter dinner
  • Oktoberfest
  • Midsummer event
  • Singles day
  • Different clothing codes
  • Beer & Wine tasting
  • Food tasting
  • Battle of bartenders
  • Trivia night
  • Family day
  • Charity auction
  • Free cooking class evening
  • Comedy Night
  • Live music
  • Age-based nights
  • Happy hour

And literally dozens of more. The imagination is the limit here so if you have something great in mind, it doesn’t need to be the idea of the century, you should do it and see the magic happen!

Discounts & Promotions

Discounts and promotions will work like a charm if the deal is appealing enough. Offering coupons with the sale, having a restaurant app, offering discounts through website, email, or using social media as a promoting tool will work to be more powerful than you would imagine. There are many smart promotion ideas that you should use to benefit your restaurant’s recognition, customer base, and revenue.

Parking

Most of the people have cars these days and if your restaurant isn’t in New York or some other massive city, then parking should be an option. My wife actually always looks at restaurants with parking in mind. It doesn’t need to be the restaurants parking but some kind of parking will do so if there is a parking nearby that should bring in more customers.

Eco-friendliness

This could have been in the value section of the article but I decided to make it a separate reason because it is so important and popular these days. There are many ways to save water, reduce food waste, or contributing something for the benefit of nature that should be in use. Also, there are forever growing customer bases that are environmentalists and vegans so this shouldn’t be overlooked!

Health

If your restaurant only sells pizza or hamburgers, the chances are that you’re missing out on a particular revenue stream and customer base. However, if your restaurant’s cuisine is towards burgers and pizza, there certainly isn’t any harm in that, and let’s face it, the great majority of us eat pizza and other unhealthy food from time to time. In fact, Italian cuisine and pizza, in particular, is the most ordered food according to many studies and if you think about it, it’s certainly true.

Nonetheless offering some kind of healthy dish will bring in more customers thats’ for sure, and the fact that there are many people that are really conscious about what they put on their body, shouldn’t be ignored.

Uniqueness

There are many innovative and unique ideas that you can implement into your business and see it rise to the next level. In modern days, the competition begins to be so ruthless that if you don’t have ANYTHING else to offer or any unique quality, you will be crushed. However, this doesn’t mean that anybody can’t have that same thing that you have and you need to be the only one in the world that is doing something in a specific way. Simply said don’t just be one restaurant in the noise but figure something out that will stand out, this will bring in more customers and attract new people every day.

Conclusion

If you want to get into the customer’s head and see what they are looking for in a restaurant, simply think of yourself in their shoes and that shouldn’t be hard because you are a customer on some level almost every single day! Standing out in the restaurant world isn’t rocket science and if you have a well-trained staff that is motivated and cares about their work, there shouldn’t be any problems with having success and profit, for that I am certain.

Omar Abdalla

I’m the owner of JRS and while I love working in a busy restaurant, I also enjoy more peaceful and relaxed cookouts at home.

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