It’s a Friday night, and your franchise restaurant is hopping. The wait staff is jamming while the back of the house cranks out some amazing plates. There’s a buzz in the air. Restaurant life is good.

We all know that when a family has a little money in their pockets and they are searching for both food and an escape from their normal lives, your restaurant better deliver the goods. If your franchise location doesn’t, you’ll hear about it on Yelp, Urbanspoon or Facebook for sure.

That’s why it’s never been more important to perform at your restaurant’s highest level to keep customers returning. Just because they smile when grabbing a silver-wrapped chocolate mint on the way out of the door doesn’t automatically mean they will come back.

Here are three restaurant tips to help polish your restaurant’s reputation, whether you operate one location or fifteen.

  1. Hire friendly people who like other people
    Easier said than done, of course. But it’s pretty easy to spot someone who likes to interact with customers. Have multiple employees interview a candidate. Can the candidate switch between topics of conversation easily? Do they smile or look relaxed? Check references. Ask the candidate to tell you a funny customer story and then listen for the answer. Does the potential employee portray the customer and her former employer in a good light or does she trash talk the old place?

When happy people are working together, a restaurant will have a vibe that customers remember. Hire for happiness!

  1. Know national marketing offers backwards and forwards
    Coupons, loyalty cards, Yelp offers…they are all coming in to your restaurant. Most likely, the marketing staff at corporate is dreaming up additional coupons, BOGO’s and drink specials right now. Crazy, right?

Crazy like a fox. Diners love discounts. They aren’t going away and chances are, that family of six wouldn’t place a foot in your location unless they could save a bit. So make sure your staff is up to date on the most recent promotions. Brief the wait staff each shift on what to expect and always, always be gracious when that coupon turns up after the bill has been presented. Your employees’ courtesy will be remembered.

  1. Make the signature “thing” perfect every time

Garlic breadsticks. Cold beer. Hand-churned ice cream. Your franchise is most likely known for something savory or sweet. Whatever it is, you’ve got to nail this one down.

Guests will come again and again for the “free” item—the cucumber water, the bread basket or the end-of-meal ice cream cone because they remember how it made them feel. And because it’s “on the house,” customers will remember your restaurant as a place that takes care of them.

Make sure that all of the steps that go into making your signature thing are being followed correctly. From homemade ketchup to warm chocolate chip cookies, whatever your treat is, it’s a big deal. Stay hands on with it.

What are your ideas for making sure customers want to return again and again? Let us know in the comments!


Olga is Senior Manager of Marketing and Sales Operations at Connectivity.