It’s a commonly held belief that it’s better to exceed expectations than not meet them, and as a supplier, you are the one setting the expectation in the first place. Certainly in a service based business, it’s probably better to give yourself a bit of leeway, and build in some extra time. If you say a project will take a week, and you deliver it in less than that then you have a happy client. Conversely, if you promise to get it done within 3 days, and it takes a week, it will be viewed as late and your client won’t be so pleased. In both cases the actual time taken could be exactly the same – it’s the expectation, and whether that is met or not that is crucial.
But in the case of a retail or food business, the sense of expectation comes from the appearance of the website, the menu or the signage and the window display. In order to get people through the door in the first place, it has to be appealing. There’s no point in having a fantastic selection of unique items, or the best food in the area if nobody walks in. It’s vital to create that sense of expectation up front … and then of course in order to get those customers back again, you need to deliver.
Last week, I had lunch with a colleague in a great pub with superb food, but from the outside it didn’t look very promising. We only chose it because it was convenient for both of us coming from different directions. Once you get in, there’s a warm and friendly welcome, attentive service and a good quality menu. This place could be missing out on a lot of trade that simply doesn’t give it a second thought, just because it’s not presenting itself as well as it could from the outside.
So how do you do that?
- Think about your target audience. Are they young and trendy? Pensioners out for lunch? Business people?
- What appeals to those people? Fast efficient service? Cosy atmosphere? Unusual menu? Good value?
- What image do you want to portray? Modern and contemporary? Classic and traditional? Cottage style?
- What will help you do that? Plants and flowers? Painted fencing? Signage & typography? Fairy lights?
- How about the interior? Candles in bottles with dripping wax? Storm lanterns? Funky chandeliers? Bright colours? Muted tones?
There are so many variations, but it’s important to think about your customer and what will appeal to them. The most important thing is to look lively and happening. Even in an empty restaurant, having a fire lit and candles twinkling in the windows with appropriate music playing in the background will make it appealing.
If you want to catch the eye of walk-in customers, make sure you’re promising a great experience up front. Don’t miss out just because they didn’t notice you.