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After your restaurant's been open for a while, things might start to feel a little tired or stale.
You might find it hard to pinpoint what specific changes would be good for your restaurant and reinvigorate buzz. Sometimes, though, the change you need is right in front of you: your physical space. A good renovation can be just what your restaurant needs to stay relevant and profitable.
A restaurant renovation is a big step, though, and not one to be taken lightly. It can be costly, time-consuming, and change your customers' perception of your brand.
When you're deciding if a renovation is right for your restaurant, here are some things you should keep in mind – and how you should go about it.
Find Out What Your Customers Are Saying
Your customers are the most valuable resource available to you ahead of a renovation. Before you even consider contacting a contractor, gather some information and feedback from your guests.
An easy way to begin this process is to do an audit of your social media accounts. See what the people are saying. Keep an eye out for negative comments regarding the atmosphere in particular. If your customers are complaining about the dim lighting or they hate the way the walls are painted, make a note and mention that to your contractor in your initial meeting.
There are other ways you can learn from your customers. To obtain a number of opinions, try requesting some feedback through comment cards, suggestion boxes, email campaigns, and even conversations around the restaurant during regular business hours.
See how people are interacting with the space. Is anyone having difficulty getting around? Does anyone look generally displeased? Engage with your customers to see what they would like to see in a renovation, if anything.
Once you've gathered this intel, you can begin creating a comprehensive plan for your renovation. Of course, a contractor will help bring these ideas to fruition and make suggestions for your space, but it's a good idea to go into the renovation with a sense of direction.
Consider Your Layout
Logistics are a vital part of the success of your restaurant. On the customer end, you should consider the following questions:
- Are your customers entering and exiting the building with ease?
- Do you have proper accessories installed to make your building accessible to everyone?
- Are the tables laid out in such a way that your clientele can maneuver around your facility easily?
- Are entrances, exits, and restrooms clearly mapped out and marked for your guests to easily find?
- Do you have the table space and chairs necessary to fill your space to capacity on busy nights?
When it comes to your servers, similar needs should be addressed, including:
- Are they able to access ready-to-serve food quickly and easily?
- Is there an orderly food-prep station for finishing touches?
- Is the right equipment installed to make prepping, cooking, and clean-up easy?
- Do your servers have a space to take breaks that isn't exposed to customers?
- Are the kitchens equipped with sanitary stations your employees can wash their hands at designated times?
Remodeling companies such as BrandPoint Services work together with interior designers & design agencies during the rollout & refresh processes to make a restaurant's layout more functional.
Refresh the Exterior
The outside is just as important – if not more important in some cases – than the interior in a restaurant renovation.
People avoid restaurants that appear displeasing to the eye. It might make them think, "What kind of food am I going to get inside?"
Similarly, if your business appears tired from the outside, with faded paint colors or outdated signage, this could be a deterrent to customers. Today, customers want food from places that look and feel fresh – something that catches the eye.
Take a close look at the outside of your restaurant. Examine the walkways and building(s) for structural damage. Hire a landscaping company to take care of any overgrown plants and shrubs. A well-maintained business that has bright signage and interesting, on-brand exterior decor will draw customers in, regardless of whether they're familiar with your restaurant or not.
Pick the Perfect Time
Timing is everything. Don't wait until your list of repairs is several pages long. Typically, restaurants require a facelift every five years to keep up with the times and continue attracting customers.
To prevent losing too much business, consider renovating during the "slow season," if your restaurant has one. If your restaurant doesn't have a slow season, you can arrange to have a majority of the contracting work done at night, during non-business hours. This lowers your risk of turning customers off with any noise or messy renovations and keeps your operation running smoothly.
Avoid Too Much Change
Change can be a blessing and a curse in this industry. Making the right changes can result in an uptick of business. But too much change – so much so that your restaurant becomes unrecognizable – can be detrimental.
Many times, repeat customers may continue to visit your location because of aspects they're familiar with. For example, maybe you're known for your burgers, or the fun, eye-catching decor.
When committing to a big restaurant renovation, ensure that the elements that make your restaurant unique stay the same. Stay true to your brand and values.
Restaurant Renovation Is a Form of Communication
When the time comes to decide whether or not your restaurant's in need of a renovation, never forget the message you want to communicate to your customers. That message should be reflected in every aspect and corner of your restaurant.
By balancing the appeal of a fresh look with your restaurant's brand and vibe, your guests will eagerly waiting to show their support.
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