Our eager expectation for Restaurant Week 2014 turned into a huge let down. Anticipation for Restaurant Week is only surpassed in our house by opening day of the Kansas City Royals baseball season. The Artist and I are officially “foodies.”
We were planning our strategy two weeks before. We considered the possibilities and read the menus online. But the final decision usually came down to “what are you hungry for today?” We ended up trying 5 new restaurants. A couple were stand-outs. But we were under-whelmed with the rest.
The restaurants pay to participate. They create special lunch and dinner menus, and they donate part of their sales to Harvesters International, a non-profit that feeds the hungry. The restaurants get a marketing push during a typically slow time of year. They also benefit because new customers come try out their food.
How much is a new customer worth?
You have to be impressive and brilliant when you’re running a small business. That’s the point of Restaurant Week: to get new customers who will love your food and come back again.
Three out of the five new restaurants we tried blew it. Think about it. They spent money to be part of Restaurant Week. They discounted their meals. They donated money from each meal to Harvesters International. It would make sense to give your best effort to impress every new customer who came in the door.
Keep in mind, these were all supposedly high-end restaurants. Our let down was as if the Royals were blown out in the second inning of their home opener. (Oh, wait, we’ve been there too.)
Creme Brulee or Jello Pudding
A cup of mediocre creme brulee sums up the 3 failures we endured during the week. Coal Vines Restaurant was our choice for lunch. The atmosphere and service were good. The food aspired to be good. It came up lacking: 2.75 out of 5.
The Artist was hopeful the creme brulee would redeem our experience. She was pleased there were no “creative additions” to the creme burlee: chocolate or caramel. She’s a food purist. Creme brulee shouldn’t be messed with, in her opinion.
Sadly, our creme brulee was the worst part of the meal. We could tell it had been in the fridge for hours. The sugar crust had once been caramelized, but it was soggy and crystallized by the time we saw it.
The kicker was the presentation. Our creme brulee was served in a worn, recycled Japanese teacup and saucer.
The Artist asked me what I thought. “I feel as if I’m eating Jello pudding,” I replied.
The flavour was creme brulee-esque. But it was the presentation that made me taste Jello pudding. I expect creme brulee to come in a ramekin with hard, recently-torched sugar on top. The Japanese tea cup looked like a Jello pudding cup. So I tasted pudding.
Presentation is as Important as Content
Great presentation on the plate won’t make bad food taste good. But poor presentation will certainly detract from the enjoyment of good tasting food.
Restaurant Week is a marketing tool for the participating restaurants. The three restaurants we will never again lost our business because they forgot that marketing is more than advertising. The quality of your product and the presentation of your product are both marketing.
Now, I’ve been talking about restaurants. But this same principle applies to every business. And wowing your customers should be your primary focus, especially when you’re running a small business or a home-based business.
You don’t just want satisfied customers. You need raving fans.
Your customers judge your presentation from the time they first see your marketing and advertising. Their evaluation of you continues through your sales process and as you deliver your goods.
Sure, you better deliver quality products and service. You also must present your business so your customer can easily see your excellence.
In other words, don’t serve creme brulee in a Jello pudding cup. It could be the best creme brulee ever. But the wrong container will diminish your customer’s enjoyment.
Wowing your customers with an outstanding presentation is challenging when you have a home-based business. Your dazzling presentation will differ from most other home-based entrepreneurs because of the diverse types of businesses you can run from home..
So rather than give you some list of generic bullet points I’ll give you an assignment. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Look at your business. What are you doing that is less than impressive? What can you do to make your presentation shine in the eyes of your customers? Then go do that.