By: Ed Rothenberg
The interaction between a restaurant and its customers is evolving into a more dynamic relationship…
Dinner out Friday night has become a weekly ritual in my family. After a long week of work, my wife and I enjoy a relaxing dinner that we don’t have to cook and clean up ourselves. With 2 small children, sometimes Friday night dinners can be a challenge due to long waits. Fortunately one of our favorite restaurants has found a solution. As I was leaving the office one Friday night, I received the following text message:
“Hi Ed, this is Sandy from Mariloui’s Restaurant and Pub, we are on a 30 minute wait.
Would you like me to put you on the waitlist now? We have that Salmon special
The salmon special is a favorite of my wife’s, she’s ordered it twice before. The restaurant is about 30 minutes from our house, the timing is perfect. A quick reply with our name and the number in our party and our dinner plans are set.
Tonight, I will not be a customer at Mariloui’s Restaurant and Pub, I am an invited guest. The feeling I get as an invited guest is that I’m special, the restaurant wants me to be there, and they want to make my Friday night enjoyable.
Cultural Shift from Customers to Invited Guests
The shift from customer to invited guest is a cultural shift in the restaurant industry enabled by tools that make it easy to gather information about guests, and easily create and distribute relevant invitations. This mindset change addresses the biggest challenge restaurants have today, which is how to increase guest count.
The systems that Mariloui’s used enable the capture of guest names through various common restaurant transactions, from credit card payment, waitlist, online ordering, gift card purchases to build a robust customer database. The tools provided allow restaurant management to easily create relevant invitations and send them to targeted customers, and also monitor the acceptance of those offers.
I accepted the invitation I received. We were seated immediately when we walked in the door, despite the crowd of people waiting. When our meal was complete, our waitress Sandy presented the check accompanied with another invitation:
“Thanks for coming in today; it was so good to see you all again. I also work on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. If you come in on Tuesday or Wednesday,” she turned to my children and smiled “children get a free bowl of ice cream with every kids meal. I hope you all will come visit me then!”
Another relevant Innovation!