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Ultimate Guide to Improve Restaurant First Impressions

How to Improve Restaurant First Impressions

Table of Contents

In many businesses across almost every sector, the first impression is everything. It could be the difference in someone recommending a business to their friends or family.

This is particularly prevalent in the restaurant industry. We at KlikNRoll know that way too well.

So, that’s why we’ve decided to give you some tips on improving your restaurant’s overall first impressions – both on and offline!

Why is a Restaurant’s First Impression Important?

A restaurant’s first impression is very important because it affects the whole restaurant experience.

Customers who have a good impression are more likely to enjoy and appreciate everything else, like the food, be more forgiving of mistakes, and be more loyal in the long term.

This makes your business run smoother, and may even improve customer satisfaction.

A good initial impression also makes customers more willing to spend more, as the vibe and decor of your restaurant influence how much they think your food is worth.

For example, if you enter a very nice restaurant, you would expect to pay more and have a budget in mind.

Besides setting the tone and satisfaction, the first impression is also what customers remember most about a restaurant, along with the food.

So, a good first impression can make people more positive and likely to recommend your restaurant to their friends and family – giving you more word-of-mouth exposure!

First impressions are not only about what people see when they enter your restaurant.

They can also be about their first contact with your restaurant or brand, like your social media, Google profile, and so on. We will explain more about this later in this article.

8 Ways to Improve Your Restaurant First Impressions

Standardize & Improve Social Media Presence

Shelby's Canada
Shelby's has a strong social media following using fun and engaging content1

Your restaurant’s social media is the first thing that potential customers see about your brand.

They can usually find you through paid ads on Facebook or Instagram, organic shares, or through local Facebook groups.

You want to make a lasting impression on Facebook and Instagram. You can do this by creating content that matches the vibe of your restaurant. For example, if you want to attract younger customers, you can try out memes and funny skits in your content.

You can also reach more customers by using platforms like TikTok, especially to connect with the Gen Zers who are growing in terms of purchasing power as more of them enter the workforce.

No matter what you do, make sure your content is engaging and fun.

Some restaurants make the mistake of only showing pictures of their food and deals, thinking that people will automatically like their brand and social media.

For reference, a good example to follow is Shelby’s Canada, a Middle Eastern restaurant in Canada. They have millions of followers on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok.

Their content is based on skits and entertainment, which has helped them build their brand overtime.

These videos make the restaurant look friendly and inviting, and make people want to visit them!

Improve Signage and Utilize Outdoor Seating to Your Advantage

Improving your signage can organically improve first impressions and increase foot traffic.

Your restaurant’s signage is a good way to make a good first impression on walk-in customers and people passing by.

A lot of people don’t pay attention to restaurants with poor or not enough signage. Did you know that 41% of people passing by judge a restaurant by its signage? That’s how much it matters for your first impression.

Other than signboards, you can also use a good menu board to attract potential customers.

A menu board shows them what kind of food you have and how much it costs. This can make them interested in your restaurant, especially when they are hungry and looking for somewhere to eat.

Something else you can do is to have outdoor seating, if your local authorities allow for it. An outdoor seating area shows that your restaurant is popular and busy, even if the inside is not.

People tend to follow what other people like, so they more likely than not would have a positive impression while walking by.

If you can’t have outdoor seating, you can still make a cool “insta-worthy” space in your restaurant that makes people want to take photos and share them online.

This space can be anything that fits your brand and style. It can be a wall, a corner, a table, a booth, or anything else.

By having this space, you can get your customers to advertise your brand for you on social media naturally, without any added cost!

This can create a positive impression on their friends and followers, making them curious about your restaurant and social media channels.

Leverage Ambiance to Set an Expectation

Dim lighting gives a luxurious and romantic mood!

When customers walk into your restaurant, you want to set the mood for their whole visit.

This is a great chance to create the right vibe and set the tone for the entire meal.

If your restaurant is casual and for families, you can go for bright and white lighting, and have a fun area for kids to play.

This will make your restaurant feel friendly and cozy, and parents will be glad to bring their kids along.

If your restaurant is fancy and for fine dining, you can choose warmer and dimmer lighting, and use nice silverware and tablecloths that look classy.

This will give your restaurant a luxurious and elegant feel, and customers may be willing to spend more.

Besides that, you should also think about the music you play in your restaurant.

A casual restaurant can play some pop music that makes people happy, while a fancy restaurant can play some Jazz or classical music that makes people feel sophisticated.

You can play the music through speakers or have a live band, depending on your budget!

Using a Dedicated Delivery System & Online Reservation System

Improving online delivery for restaurants

Your restaurant’s online presence can make a big difference for potential customers. You want a reservation system or delivery platform that is fast and nice-looking, so they can trust you and order from you.

Some online reservation systems are slow or just don’t look great, which makes users worry about their safety and quality.

They may not feel like entering their payment details or dealing with a complex ordering process. They may give up on ordering or booking a table because of this.

KlikNRoll fixes this problem with an online reservation platform that you can make your own. You can pick your own colors, fonts, logos, and images – virtually everything can be customized. This makes your platform unique from others that have few customization options.

Our platform also works with any device, so customers don’t have to download any apps. They can order or reserve from your website, which is connected to our platform.

By using your website, you can also get customers to share their data with you. This can help you grow your email list or your loyalty program. You can use this data to connect with your customers and handle your relationships better.

This is something that other platforms don’t give you, so you have an edge over your rivals.

Good Staff Training & Attentiveness Can be Great

One of the most important things you should do to create a positive first impression is to prioritize effective staff training.

The quality of your food is very important, of course, but your wait staff is the first point of contact with your customers. They are the ones who greet them, take their orders, and serve them. They are also the face of your restaurant and your brand.

To understand why staff training is so important, let’s look at a practical example. Suppose a customer goes to a KFC outlet and encounters a rude staff member.

The staff member may be having a bad day, or may not have received proper training, but the customer doesn’t know that. The customer may feel offended and angry and may decide never to visit KFC again.

Not only that, but the customer may also tell their friends and family about their bad experience, and discourage them from going to KFC as well. The customer may also leave a negative review online, which can damage KFC’s reputation.

This example shows how one staff member and bad customer service can affect the whole brand. That’s why staff training is crucial.

Employee Training to Anticipate Customer Needs in a Restaurant
Soft skills matter more than hard skills in this regard.

Your staff should learn how to develop soft skills, such as empathy, communication skills, and attentiveness.

These skills can help them to create a positive impression on your customers, and to ensure that they have a satisfying experience at your restaurant.

A positive and satisfying experience can have many benefits for your restaurant. It can increase customer loyalty, which means that your customers will come back to your restaurant more often, and spend more money.

It can also generate positive word-of-mouth, which can attract new customers to your restaurant. It can also improve your online ratings and reviews, which can boost your visibility and credibility on search engines.

If you want to learn more about how to train your staff effectively, you can read our article on customer needs anticipation.

Optimize Your SEO & Google Business Profile

Your Google profile can also give your customers a good impression.

Search engines are vital for new users to discover your brand. For example, if someone hears about your restaurant from a friend, they will likely Google it.

Your Google Business Profile and your website should be the first results that show up when potential customers search for your restaurant.

Your business profile should highlight two main features: your menu and your reviews. You need to have many positive reviews to impress new users. You can ask customers to leave feedback, maybe when they pay the bill. If that doesn’t work, you can offer a freebie in exchange for a review.

A good website is helpful, but not essential, especially for new restaurants. But your menu should be easy to find, as people don’t want to waste time looking for it. A clear picture of your menu on your business profile is a good idea.

The most important thing is to keep your information accurate, current, and consistent on all platforms. This will make Google trust your business more and increase your visibility.

For more tips on how to optimize your restaurant for search engines (SEO), check out our comprehensive guide!

Sponsoring Local Events Can be Amazing for Branding and First Impressions

Benefits of Sponsoring Local Events as a Restaurant
Goodwill leads to good impressions and branding!

Participating in local events is a great way to introduce your restaurant and brand to the public. You can offer catering services or donate food to show your goodwill and impress potential customers.

Many people, especially the influential Gen Zs, prefer to support businesses that share their values and make a positive difference in the world and their communities.

By letting people taste your food at these events, you can also attract loyal customers who love your cuisine.

Furthermore, if your event or charity work creates enough impact, you may get media attention or even TV exposure, which can boost your branding and visibility in your area.

Media coverage can also enhance your SEO, as a reputable article about your brand with a link to your website can increase your credibility with search engines like Google.

Additionally, customers value businesses that care about their local community and will reward them with their patronage.

Conclusion - The Bottom Line

There you have it, actionable and practical ways to give a good first impression to potential customers.

Remember, a good first impression doesn’t necessarily start from your restaurant’s front doors, but could be online through your website or social profiles. If you decide to sponsor or cater local events, that would be the first point of contact of cold customers to your brand. 

Again, if you’re interested in your very own online delivery system, make sure to check out our product page below to learn more!

Last Updated by February 22, 2024

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