Financial Planning Tips Small Businesses Can't Afford to Ignore in 2021

As someone in the restaurant industry, you know how difficult it is to stay afloat. New places are opening daily, some within a nearby radius of your franchised operations. Running a restaurant is also expensive, especially with the rising cost of food and labor. Distinguishing your eatery from others is challenging, but one way to lure customers in consistently is by enhancing their experience. 

A dining experience encompasses everything from the food to the atmosphere to the welcoming staff. If you’re a franchise owner looking to stand out from the crowded dining field, keep reading. Here are three tips to help you enhance your diner’s overall experience.

1. Lean into Experiential Dining 

Diners today are looking for more than just a good meal. They’re looking to be entertained and captivated. They want to go out and not have to worry if everyone in the family is enjoying themselves and having a good time. And with social media, they want to show off their night out to their followers. This is why experiential dining has really taken off.  

Experiential dining provides customers with more than just great food and exceptional customer service. It emphasizes the atmosphere, oftentimes adding in an element of thrill such as entertainment. It involves diners, meaning they can take part in some sort of activity or immersive experience. The Rainforest Cafe is a classic example of an experiential dining franchise. 

However, don’t think that you need to go as far as installing waterfalls and playing monkey sounds to be experiential! Rather, think about who your customers are and what types of experiences will likely attract them. If you are a family-oriented restaurant, adding swing sets can keep kids occupied as they wait for their food. If you want to create a dinner club feel, having local musicians come in and play can keep diners engaged for hours. And if you offer a unique type of cuisine, play into it with decor that makes diners feel like they are in an oasis. 

2. Reward Diners Through a Loyalty Program  

A challenge for many restaurants is finding ways to get customers to return. Loyalty programs are one way to entice individuals to come back for another meal. It’s also a way to build better relationships with your customers, knowing when they like to dine and even what they’re ordering. By rewarding diners, you’re showing that you care about their overall customer experience and are treating them as a unique individual as opposed to a few dollar bills. 

A well-run loyalty program can lead to an increase in sales, more satisfied customers, and better relationships with guests. And, of course, when a diner has a great experience they are more likely to talk about it with their friends and family. They may even recommend your restaurant for their next gathering or suggest it to others. 

There are numerous types of loyalty programs specific to restaurants. A points-based program rewards guests with points based on how much they’ve spent on a meal. They can use these points for coupons or other promotional offerings. In a tiered loyalty program, guests are given exclusive offerings as they move up to the next level of program benefits. If these tiers are based on money spent, this can persuade diners to spend more than they normally would on a meal. 

3. Provide Superior Service 

Your food could be top-notch, but if your front of house isn’t up to par then the entire meal can be tarnished. Diners want to leave a restaurant feeling like they were treated well. Constantly flagging down a waiter and asking to refill their water glass is annoying. So is asking a waiter what they recommend and them saying they are unsure. Training your front-of-house staff is critical to the success of your restaurant’s business.  

Think of your hostess and your wait staff as the gateway between your diners and the chefs. They should all be knowledgeable about the menu, knowing which items are recommended for those with various restrictions or food allergies. They should be able to suggest a drink based on what a diner is ordering or quickly get the sommelier’s attention for additional help. Lastly, they should all lead with empathy and be prepared to address concerns quickly and promptly. 

As a franchise owner, make sure your staff is properly equipped to do their job well. Provide them with clean-cut aprons or apparel so they look polished. Use a restaurant POS system that connects the front of house and back of house, allowing for seamless communication. And make sure everyone is properly trained and feels like they are part of a supportive team and can ask questions. The more you do in terms of training, the better off your customer service will be and the more taken care of your diners will feel.  


Serving exceptional food is only one part of the dining experience. The decor, ambiance, and service all make a difference in how a diner feels. An inviting, welcoming space with staff who are knowledgeable and attentive makes all the difference. Keep these pointers in mind as you look to enhance the dining experience and really stand out from your competitors. 

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