Consistency is the key to success

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in the kitchenHow many times have you had your socks knocked off at your first visit to a new restaurant only to return the second time and be devastatingly disappointed? If you say never, then you are lying. Okay, maybe it takes two or three times, but eventually, there it is, the crab dip with a little less crab, the cinnamon bun with just a hint of cinnamon where once the aroma filled the room and the boiled lobster dinner sans lobster!

One of the top ten reasons for restaurants failing to retain customers is inconsistency. In order to keep them coming back, food quality, portion size, service and plating must be the same every time a customer returns. Why is it that customers go again and again to quick service food chains that continue to serve smaller and smaller portions of humdrum, salt-laden, over sauced food for a higher and higher price? It is because no matter where in the world they are, they know that they can always count on being served the exact same food in the exact same way.

Longevity in the food service business is dependent on customer retention and growth. Growing your customer base is the easy part. Keeping them is not. If you are having a problem in your food service with customer retention, maybe it’s time to take a look at what the fast food giants do to keep their customers coming back again and again.

Standardize your recipes so that no matter who quits (including the executive chef) your customer always receives the same dish—same flavor and texture, plating and portion size.

Cross train your kitchen staff so that any one of them can recreate the recipe flawlessly.

Photograph every dish. Post the pictures where anyone plating can see what the customer will expect.

Simplify every recipe. The simpler the recipe, the more likely it will be duplicated without errors or omissions.

Keeping it simple also means a lower skill level is required in the kitchen which translates into less payroll expense and higher profit—a win for both you and your customer!

Buon Appetito e Buona Salute, Chef Angela Bell
Beyond the Bull (an “eat smart” kitchen)
233 W. Main St., Central, SC 29630

Last modified: August 4, 2013
Angela Bell

This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.

Category: MPR Authored, Restaurants, Small Business, Small Business Corner, small business owners, Tips