Running a restaurant is not easy. There always seems to be a million things to do, from placing orders for ingredients to drawing up the schedule for the month. Sometimes it can feel like there is so much to do in the kitchen that you have little energy left to make sure your customers are satisfied with their dining experience.
Luckily, there are some simple ways to ensure your customers are kept happy while you are hustling behind the scenes. Optimizing your menu to make it informative and accessible to diners is key to satisfying customers, growing your customer base, and encouraging diners to become regulars. If you want to know how to keep customers happy in a restaurant, here are our top five tips for optimizing your menu.
Top Five Tips for How to Keep Customers Happy in a Restaurant
Optimizing your menu doesn’t have to be particularly complicated. While these five tips may take some time and effort to implement, the payoff has the potential to be much larger than the investment. When you put effort into accommodating your customers’ needs and informing them about the food on your menu, people appreciate it, and they show this appreciation by returning time and again, often with friends who become new customers as well.
As you read through these tips, keep in mind that you don’t have to do them all, but that they all compliment each other quite well. Our hope is that they inspire you to always be looking for new ways to keep your customers happy.
Here are our top five tips for how to keep customers happy in your restaurant:
- Be Inclusive: There are so many people with food allergies and sensitivities that it can feel overwhelming to try to have something for everyone on the menu. Making your menu inclusive, however, doesn’t have to be that difficult. Vegan options, for instance, can double as dairy and egg-free dishes for those who are allergic, and gluten-free plates can easily be made low-carb. It’s also a good idea to have simple swaps on hand when diners with allergies or sensitivities come in. Swap out regular pasta for gluten-free and offer vegan spread in place of butter. Just be sure to use safe food prep practices to avoid cross-contamination of the major allergens. Diners who have dietary restrictions will be grateful that they can enjoy a meal knowing it is safe for them to eat. Just be sure to include a note at the bottom of your menu letting customers know that dietary restrictions can be accommodated and to talk to servers if they have questions.
- Use Nutrient Content Claims: With a growing public interest in food and nutrition, many people are adopting special diets, with low-carb, grain-free diets like Paleo and Keto at one end of the spectrum and low-fat diets at the other. Using nutrient content claims (NCCs) is a great way to flag which meals may be suitable for those sticking to special diets. Using an online nutrition analysis software can help you determine which NCCs your menu items qualify for. Since terms like low-fat and low-sodium are regulated by the FDA, it’s important to make sure you aren’t just using them willy-nilly. All you have to do to find out which claims you are permitted to use for each of your dishes is enter your recipe and serving size. The software will then analyze your recipe and produce a list of all the claims it qualifies for. You can then add these claims to your menu so customers will know which dishes are best suited to their diet.
- Make Detailed Nutrition Information Available Upon Request: Along the same vein, more and more customers are concerned about what they are eating. People are used to getting nutrition facts for the food items they buy in stores, and many expect that the same kind of information will be made available for restaurant food. In fact, the recent menu labeling compliance law requires chain restaurants of 20 or more locations to provide this information, so diners are getting used to having it available. If you aren’t currently required to provide nutrition information by law, you may want to consider opting into menu labeling so you can provide this information in a way that will satisfy the FDA. Also, be sure to use an FDA-compliant online nutrition analysis software so you can get accurate results from your nutrition analysis.
- Provide Calorie Counts: As with detailed nutrition information, customers are becoming used to having calorie counts next to each item on restaurant menus—including the beverages! Again, this is part of the menu labeling compliance law, so if your restaurant is small or independent, you aren’t required to provide calorie counts. However, providing calorie counts can be lucrative, as many customers will choose to dine at a restaurant that is transparent and provides information about their food. Again, using an online nutrition analysis software is a great way to obtain calorie information because it is easy to use and affordable for independent restaurants that may have tighter budgets than chain restaurants. While you could easily spend $700 per recipe analysis using food lab analysis, using an online software can cost as little as $249 per month for unlimited recipes.
Using Online Nutrition Analysis Software to Optimize Your Menu
Whether you choose to implement all these tips in your restaurant or just one, remember that using an FDA-compliant nutrition analysis software is the easiest way to obtain the information you intend to provide on your menu. In mere minutes, the best software provides accurate calorie counts, detailed nutrition information, nutrient content claims, and even allergen warnings for each of your recipes. And before you know it, your menu will be optimized and you will be well on your way to having a satisfied customer base.
MenuCalc is an industry-leading online nutrition analysis software trusted by restaurants of all sizes. Start a free 15-day trial or contact us today to learn more. Short on time or staff? Our expert consultants can do the work for you!