Making that First, Great Impression

Seeing your food and beverage outlet through a more critical eye, and what your guest sees upon arrival is vital. Whether at a concessions retail location, a club, or restaurant, the rules are largely the same: The atmosphere must be inviting and entice guests to want to partake and return again. Of course the food has to taste great, and hold value perception, with matching service to close the deal. Keeping this all in mind, having a great, inviting presentation from the start sends the right message to your guest and sets the tone for the experience.

It all starts with the greeting, and this is two-fold. Studies have shown the first 10 seconds upon entering is the most important time frame. First, is there a team member at the door or counter upon arrival, welcoming and greeting the customer as they approach? Does their body language match their words? A smile, an open posture, and a sincere, welcome introduction is great, and even better, if known, is saying the guest’s name to bring a sense of belonging and make them feel special.

Second, as much as what and how you verbalize, it is the space they are entering that speaks volumes as well. This starts with the openness of the area, inviting the customer to come on in and enjoy. Here are some of those contributing factors:

  • You may have heard, that we eat with our eyes first. How is your presentation? Are the foods fresh, beverages visibly chilled, and plenty of color to attract the senses? Use varied elevations and interesting displays to draw in the customer.
  • Do the menu boards communicate what you wish to convey? Or do you know what you want it to convey? Menus and menu boards that are cluttered, lack flow or segmentation, or contain font size that is difficult to read, can frustrate the guests, slow service, and ultimately cost you dollars. Boards should be well lit, engaging, and your message should be within the reader’s normal cone of vision.
  • Lighting is important too. Too bright or too dark brings discomfort to the customer. This of course is dependent on the theme and amount of ambient or natural lighting. Food retail areas should be bright, and the faster the service mode, then the more light needs to increase. In sit-down restaurants, bars, or clubs, dim the lighting for a more relaxed atmosphere.
  • Get rid of the clutter! Remove the unnecessary items that detract from your message. At concessions or retail areas, having back up storage or boxes visible within the service area, or items stacked within the scope of vision detracts from the experience. Is there unnecessary furniture, signs, or displays that impede the guest’s path of travel or detract from the overall experience, diminishing your food and presentation?

Take the time to step away and look at your space with an objective, critical eye, and see the first impression you are making with your guests!




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