How to Share (and Receive) More Love in your Cafe or Restaurant

Customers want fresh, not stale; inspiration, not gloom.. One way to do this is to think about all the things that we love, our staff love and our customers love! We all need to find more ways to keep a smile on our faces and share our love of food, customers and business success.

It’s easy to share stories, photos and events – post them on Facebook, on a corner of the menu or add to your newsletter – they create great word-of-mouth and conversation starters. Suddenly there’s a personal connection between staff, managers and customers. Here’s a whole bunch of themes to get you into the groove for sharing some love!

The locals love to be acknowledged. Has a neighbourhood community or business completed a mammoth project, or students achieved excellent results? Offer a special treat for winners of the school sports carnival, debating competition or best achievers in exam results. Ask local bosses to nominate a winning worker for special commendation.

Staff love to be acknowledged. How do you recognise this? At Silver Chef we have our 10 minute ‘daily huddle’ and at the end, there’s an opportunity to acknowledge the work of others – how they’ve helped you or the business. Setting up systems for this will make it much more likely to happen, and leaders should model the process.

People love to be inspired. Share the story of one of your workers who’s overcome the odds to hold a job or achieve something special – customers give extra points to you for supporting them. Or how you support a local non-profit. Put a photo and a brief story on the noticeboard, and get staff to wear name tags so connections can be made. If there’s a local organisation you support that’s done something special, ask them to share a story.

People love the business owners. If you’re an independent or family-run business, when’s the last time you shared a photo of your family, or one of you (without grey hair) when you opened all those years ago? Pictures make stories easy to share, with milestones, awards and staff events. Add a news diary (blog) to your website and keep adding more. People love to hear ‘how we made it stories’ – they won’t make the TV news, but you do make thousands of people happy each year. Share your pride.

Many people love their town or local area. Regular support for sporting teams, the school and charity groups keeps customers loyal and connected. Get behind local causes like parking issues, over-development and conservation – now you’re one of us.

People love photos. Snap, snap, snap with your mobile phone or a camera kept at the shop to record food, parties, special customers and behind-the-scene activity. But don’t post them up without checking and editing – easy to do with on your phone or an app like Snapseed. Take several shots of each scene and choose the best, then brighten it and crop out the garbage bin on the side. Post them to your Facebook page – this will drive constant visitor traffic.

People love to laugh. Add a weekly quote about food on the noticeboard – like the one from baseball player Yogi Berra “You better cut the pizza in four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat eight” or “There’s no better feeling in the world than a warm pizza box on your lap”. Google for restaurant or cafe quotes and jokes – there’s no shortage!

Many people love animals. No, don’t bring them into the shop, but whether customers are a ‘cat’ person or a ‘dog’ person, people love hearing about them, seeing them and even getting life lessons from them. Could Henry the dog be the one that offers a Tip of the Week on your noticeboard? Could the best pet photo earn a prize in a random competition for one month?

People love events. Beyond the usual ones on Valentine’s Day and Mothers Day, every month has possibilities. Here are a few ideas for October, so you can be prepared:

Oktoberfest – think German flavours and great beer.
World Teachers Day – every year on October 5. Make friends with your local schoolies.
Halloween is on 31st October – find new ways to be creative with pumpkin!

Staff fall in love with each other – it happens! Some businesses have strict ‘no fraternisation’ policies, which will always be hard to police. Better to recognise that a lot of great relationships have started through working together – just make sure your staff manual covers issues about conflict of interest and the different power that supervisors may have over others.