Don’t turn off the music!

Restaurant Open

Restaurant Open?

In our businesses we put so much time and effort getting customers in the door that sometimes we forget that the same effort must be put into minding that customer once they are through the door…

Usually I leave it up to my partner Greg Canty to write our blog posts – it’s a running joke now with all of the Fuzion gang, that when Greg makes an observation we say “There’s a blog in that”, but an experience over the weekend prompted me to write about the importance of looking after a customer, once they have made that first big step, coming through the front door.

Shattered tired after driving home from West Cork, via Tipperary and Dublin (don’t ask) we were starving, not having eaten anything since morning.  It was late on a Saturday night, about 10pm, so our options were limited as to where we could get a bite to eat at that hour in Ballincollig where we live.

We opted for the local Thai restaurant, thinking they would surely be open – they were not.  Across the square we saw a restaurant that was open, flashing neon sign screamed it – as did the lit candles and beautiful check table cloths still on the outside tables.  It’s a restaurant that we haven’t been to in years, but it looked welcoming, they were obviously making an effort to attract business, so we went in through the door.

I asked, just to make sure, were they still open.  The body language of the waitress, stated that they very much weren’t and it didn’t help when she answered my question with a question – “What for?”.

We were going to leave it at that and as we were backing out of the restaurant  the owner, who was outside, followed us in and said they were very much open.

The restaurant had an inviting section with subdued lighting and lit candles but we were shown to a table in a brightly lit section and the waitress said she would check if they could put the ovens back on again.  We felt uncomfortable, we knew we had made a mistake, but we were hungry.  We ordered two starters and decided to share a pizza (well that would justify them turning on the ovens we thought!!)

Romantic Dinner for two

Could have been different

Half way through our starter, they started to clean the floor and the music was turned off.  Amidst the smell of bleach and the eerie quietness without the music, I got a brainwave.  We had candles waiting to be lit in our cosy dining room, an iPod with over 10,000 songs on it and a poor neglected dog that we hadn’t seen all day – why not just get the Pizza to go when we had finished our starter.

I communicated my idea to the waitress; she said there was no problem with us finishing our meal.  She was really nice about it and encouraged us to stay, but you know what – the damage was done.

The pizza was lovely, we might even get another one as a take-away some time, but we will never eat in this restaurant again.  It’s a shame because they did have all the right ingredients to have us returning as loyal customers, but they didn’t take the opportunity to continue to promote themselves to us when we got inside the door.

This was a genuine lost opportunity for the restaurant – they had it all worked out how to get people in the door, just forgot to look after new customers once they got them through the door.   And if you know Greg at all, he would have tweeted it out big time (he can’t help himself…..).

So don’t turn off the music when a customer “walks” in – show them that the welcome continues past the door, give them an experience that delivers on promises and ensures that they come back again and again .. we would have.

Deirdre Waldron is a partner of Fuzion

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