What perception do you want the customers to have of you? If you want to be perceived as homely, then your dress, speech and actions will reflect that you are homely.
Some time ago, I wrote a post titled ‘Variety in one’, in which I postulated that it was not only desirable but possible for a couple in a marriage to find the sexual variety that some travel out of matrimony to find. In that post, the family arrangement was compared to a restaurateurs business and we concentrated on how to keep the customer returning. You can find the full post HERE.
This post is a prequel to the last and it will focus on how to attract customers in the first place. Or better still, how to attract that one special customer, husband or partner if you please, that you would want to service for life.
I have heard many ladies complain that their biological clock is ticking away and yet they have not been able to find a customer. Others complain that their customers visit a few times and then choose not to call again. Such ladies often spend countless hours with and around ‘Men of God’ and seeking prayers to be able to break the yoke of whatever is trying to keep them from finding the man of their dreams (read anyman they eventually end up with).
But before heading off to seek divine intervention, perhaps, a quick detour at a marketers firm to find out what is needed to kick start a restaurant business and attract customers is apposite. Then, you can create and run through your checklist and see what you have left out which perhaps could be why you are having customer attraction/retention issues. To this end, we shall divide the process of getting customers into a restaurant in three: planning, implementation and execution.
Planning is perhaps the most crucial part of building and attracting customers to your restaurant. Starting off without a plan is indeed a recipe for disaster. Your planning will include:
•Where the restaurant will be located
•Who your target market will be
•The type of meals you will serve
•Your pricing system
•The look and feel of the restaurant
•Strategies for return business
It is important to note that the location of your restaurant will determine the other factors listed under planning. For instance, in Lagos, if you run a restaurant on the Island, it will attract people of a particular income level and this will be reflected in your pricing system which in turn will affect the look and feel of your restaurant as well as what strategies you will use for return business. Even a buka in VI will be more expensive than one which serves even more delicious food in Agege. It is a question of location.
However, I am not saying that inter-location alliances cannot be built. After all, Ramsey Noah would always come from Maitama to find Ini Edo in Mararaba, just like people travel from VI to eat amala at White House. Yet such relationships are not only few and far in between but are often just materials for the movies.
So if your target is a spiritual man, you should locate yourself around a religious institution of your choice. If you want a rich man, move to VGC, if it doesn’t matter then your location doesn’t matter either. Just do not complain that all you get are the ‘chop and clean mouth’ types when you have strategically branded and located yourself as a stripper in a Night Club!
Now that you have all your plans in place it is time to move on to implementation. At this stage, the strategies you have thought of will be broken down into tactics. For instance, to make your restaurant aesthetically appealing you can pick a theme. The theme you pick will also be reflected in the kind of meals you serve and customer service you offer. If you want the restaurant to feel like home, then you will have comfortable chairs and perhaps offer some popular home cooked meal. Your customer service will also reflect the warmth and friendliness of a home. If you want to maintain the ‘restauranty’ feel, you will also attract a different class of customers.
So at the end it boils down to you. What perception do you want the customers to have of you? If you want to be perceived as homely, then your dress, speech and actions will reflect that you are homely. For instance you will not be found arguing that a woman doesn’t need to learn to cook neither would do turn down an opportunity to show you are domesticated. If your career is very important to you, you wouldn’t want to give off the wrong signals either. If you are domesticated but would rather not be, then you also need to reflect that. Important thing is choose a theme that suits you and then work with it.
Now you are ready for execution. When you meet a potential customer, don’t forget to smile and graciously extend common courtesies. Your charm should not be something you switch on and off whenever you feel like. Remember, if you have chosen your location right, then every customer that steps in can be THE customer you have been waiting for. If your being courteous comes on and off like a light bulb, do you not think your customers will see through such charade? Don’t forget Prince Charming can come disguised as a frog, be ready to greet him with a welcoming smile and do say please and thank you always.
Don’t forget, you will get your best customers through referrals. Do not underestimate the power of networking. Friends and family will give you the best recommendations to start with. So ask yourself, what reputation do you have? What would your friends say about you if someone was to inquire about your business? Do you have a reputation of being impatient, always losing your temper? Does everyone in the neighbourhood have a key to your door or is it padlocked? Remember, it will be impossible to remain in business for long if your reputation is ruined.
Food quality assurance and transparency are also vital if you want to retain your customers and keep them loyal. People can be very picky about what they eat. Some have allergies while others are vegetarian. You should be able to assure your customers of the quality and fidelity of food they are about to eat. Indeed, throughout a relationship, you must always be honest and transparent but when marriage is imminent, you must bring to the knowledge of your partner any issues that would affect the quality of your relationship.
Always remember that a good way to break barriers, both cultural and geographic, and expand your business is to come online. Social networking sites are a good place to find new customers. But always remember to put your best foot forward. Don’t lose sight of your brand or reputation as you go about the daily business of engagement with prospects.
The business of finding THE customer is not an easy one, but with proper planning, implementation and execution, you’ll not find yourself settling for just anyone, you will find that man that you will love as you love yourself. And when you do, please do stop looking.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.