Comfort and Customers: Improving Your Cash Flow by Keeping Customers at The Table Longer

There are two main ways that any person or business can improve their bottom line—decreasing expenses or bringing in more income. That is a simple concept to understand, and if you are looking to bring in more dollars, here is a new point to consider for your restaurant: make it more comfortable. People who feel at ease and relaxed in your restaurant are more likely to stay longer, and those who stay longer typically pay higher checks at the end of the meal.

And what makes people feel comfortable in a restaurant? Things like lighting (Check out this article for more information!), music, customer service, the comfort of their seats, the cleanliness of the bathroom, the temperature inside the building (Take a look at this article for managing temperature and energy!), the awareness of the staff to their needs … and the list could go on.

If several of those things are off, customers are likely to be in and out as quickly as possible. “They’re still eating and paying the bill,” you might say. Yes, that is true, but it’s not the same as the bill for the customers who stay and enjoy their time at the table.

Consider this scenario. A family of four goes out for dinner on a Friday night. The kids are young and grouchy because they are hungry, and the parents are exhausted from a week of work, too tired to cook dinner at home.

When they walk into the restaurant, the place is packed. The host at the front tells them it will be a 30-minute wait for a table, so they go and stand in the corner while they wait for an opening. Once they make it to their table, the parents order as quickly as possible so that their hungry kids can avoid meltdowns. While they’re waiting for the food, a show comes on the restaurant’s TV that they don’t want their kids to see, and they try to distract them. Everyone is worked up and stressed. Once the food comes, they eat quickly, enjoying the delicious food but trying to finish and get out the door. They pay the $50 check, tip the waitress, and walk out the door after being at their table for the minimum amount of time.

That’s a typical night of eating out for many families. There is no fault to place on the restaurant or the family, but let’s imagine this scenario a little differently. What would their total check look like if the family felt more comfortable in the restaurant? Let’s rewind.

It’s the same family on the same busy Friday night. They walk in feeling ragged, but this time when the host tells them there will be a wait, he offers coloring pages and crayons to the kids and directs the group to a bench in the foyer that is specifically for waiting families. The music, soft lighting, and comfortable temperature help the parents to feel calmer, and the kids settle down, too. Their coloring pages also double as a coupon for a half-off dessert with their meals, and the kids can’t wait to get to the table.

Once they’re seated, they order an appetizer to help with their hunger. A little bit later, a waitress realizes that what’s on the TV is not suitable for children, so she changes the channel to something that is appropriate for all ages. The food is still delicious, and the family enjoys their meal. Afterwards, the kids order their desserts with their coupons and the parents decide to get something, too. After some conversations and laughter, the parents pay the $90 check and leave a generous tip. Even though they ordered several food items and had refills, their server was quick to see to their needs.

Those two nights were quite different! Sure, there is some added expense for the restaurant owner with the sitting area, crayons, and coloring paper, but other than that, all the steps that were taken to ensure the family felt comfortable did not require any kind of investment, and the extra consideration certainly paid off. The family spent $40 more in the second scenario, and they are probably more likely to return.

A comfortable setting may not lead to that drastic of an increase in spending for each customer, but an easy-going environment will make a difference, no doubt. Customers who spend more time at tables are more likely to order appetizers, drinks, refills, and desserts. Plus, a customer who feels comfortable in your environment is more likely to return with friends, thus growing your clientele exponentially.

Take some time to look around your restaurant. If you walked through the front doors alone, or with friends, or with a family, would you feel comfortable? At GWT2Energy, we specialize in energy management, but we want to help restaurants thrive. If you’re needing help with improving your bottom line, reach out to us today, and we can design a plan that will benefit you, your customers, and the environment for years to come!

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