Customer opinion is important, especially for a restaurant. You want to know what food choices your customers like and dislike, so you can feature more of the favorable dishes on your menu! It may also be helpful to know what your customers think of your restaurant environment, ambience and the service from your staff. The more inviting your restaurant is, the longer your customers will stay and the more money they will spend. So how do you find out that information from your customers? Feedback cards are nice to have in your bill presenters to ask questions about a customer’s visit, but how many customers actually complete these? Online reviews are helpful, but what if you have additional questions for the customer about the review? Often contact information cannot be found to obtain more feedback.
There is a more complete way to gather the information you are looking for from your customers. So what is that method? This effective method to gather feedback about your restaurant is a focus group. Gathering your customers at your restaurant to hear their opinions about your menu and food can provide valuable information for your restaurant, which can help your business grow.
Here are some tips on implementing a successful Focus Group:
To start, create an invitee list of six to twelve regular customers to join the focus group. You want to try to invite a mix of your target market, that is, if your client base is varied. Additionally, seek out customers to invite that have never been to your restaurant and add them to the invite list for your group. It will be beneficial to have non-customer feedback. Lastly, if you can, try to invite some local foodies or food writers in the area.
Send out personalised invitations to your guests, signed by the manager of your establishment. In the invitations make sure your participants know the benefit of participating up front. Other than letting participants know that it is a focus group for your restaurant and the benefit of participating, you don’t want to give too much information about the group. This hopefully will allow for your participants not to do any research beforehand and come in with an open mind. This is especially important for someone who has never been to your restaurant.
Prepare a list of questions you want to ask about your restaurant. A list of 10 to 12 questions will more than likely be sufficient, as new questions will probably come up during the discussion. Questions you may want to ask include questions regarding the readability of your menu, the comfort of your restaurant and of course, questions about about your food! You will want to ask questions that help you get an overall feel of a customer’s experience at your restaurant.
When your customers arrive, explain why they are there and let them know you are looking for feedback about all aspects of the restaurant. You want customers to provide feedback on the restaurant, menu and food. Have customers order off the menu. Witness the processes your customers go through when ordering. Is the menu easy to order from? Do your participants have a lot of questions? Have the lead of the focus group, along with some other employees, watch and take notes. You will also want to ask participants the process they went through to order off the menu, or maybe even have them speak as they are going through the steps to order. Along with preparing the food options requested, prepare some samples of the dishes on which you want further opinions on.
In addition to having your staff take notes, you may find it valuable to record the focus group. There will be a lot going on, so this will ensure you do not miss anything.
After the Focus Group it’s time to evaluate the results. If you have additional questions, follow up as soon as you can with your participants so the visit is fresh on their minds. Also, send a thank you letter to your participants and consider including coupons or some other promotion in appreciation for their time.