The SOMM Journal

April / May 2016

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Page 9 of 108

{ }  9 WHEN ANY NEW RESTAURANT OPENS—ASSUMING IT'S HAD the proper amount of pre-opening publicity—its tables will be filled with early birds and the curious. Those first few weeks can be an intoxicating experience for restaurateurs who have spent the previ- ous long months sweating out every detail of their new establish- ment. They can relax at the bar with a glass of Champagne and watch their hard work come to fruition, right? WRONG. The first month or two is the crucial time to lay in the foundation for a long, steady run. The key to continued and consistent success is building in a solid base of avid, recurring customers—people who can be counted on to come back again and again, every two or three weeks. These "regulars" will be the core of your clientele after the lookie- loos have moved on to the next trendy spot. Even on a rainy, miser- able night, the regulars will turn up and show you the love. Developing this underlying bulwark of your business is not some- thing that just happens. It requires careful planning and hard work. What people want from a restaurant experience—even more than great food, great wine and great service—is to feel at home. They want to feel comfortable; they want to feel special. They want to be welcomed with open arms when they arrive. They want the staff to know their name. They want the sommelier to know their favorite wine without asking. If a restaurant can consistently deliver this kind of experience to its guests, it is likely to succeed in the long run—but that's easier said than done. To provide this type of service, a restaurant must maintain an up-to-date database of all customers, a list that can be quickly accessed by staff members. In addition to dietary wine and menu preferences, each individual record should contain such informa- tion as: address, phone number, birthday, preferred seating, favorite server and any other fact that can help to personalize the diner's experience. This database should be added to after each time the guest comes in to dine. Clearly, amassing such detailed information about customers is a daunting task, but there is sophisticated reservation software that can make it easier. The extra effort will be well worth it in terms of repeat business. { editor's notebook } Bonding with Your Customers L E A R N , WO R K , L I V E W I N E Specialist Certifications in Italian, American, Spanish Wine ● Sommelier Certification, Merit-based Globally Recognized ● Masters in Barolo, Sangiovese, Olive Oil, Terroir, Service ● Wine Primer ● Enthusiast Courses @nasommelier

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