3 expert techniques to turn restaurant customers into ambassadors – without having to pay them!

Ezard’s is a Melbourne institution, at the epicentre of Flinders Lane fine dining. My wife and I made our first visit there last week, to celebrate my birthday – a gift from my generous siblings. After many years of travel through Asia, I was excited to see which elements of Asia would inspire dishes made from the finest local produce.

As I watched diners around us enjoying their meal throughout the night, and later as I scrolled through Instagram, I took note of three techniques that food service businesses can use to build a network of ambassadors, for free!

Allow me to share snippets of our experience, to show you these tactics in practice.

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On a hot Friday evening, we set in for several hours for the 8-course Vegetarian Tasting Menu.  There’s no surprise that it was beyond delicious. It was also an experience we’ve wanted to share with everyone we know. We are telling our friends about every last detail, sharing snippets on our respective social media channels and now I’m putting together a complete article on it – one I hope helps you turn your customers into ambassadors, for free!

What is it about a dining experience that makes your customers want to share it? Is it enough to provide a nice meal and a good night? Probably not!

Here’s three expert techniques I noticed on the night, that you can quickly include in your own business.

 

EXPERT STEP ONE: Each Ingredient Has A Story

Stories are easy to remember and easy to spread.

Even the varieties of salt and oil for dipping the sourdough bread have a story at Ezard’s. As each menu selection was presented at our table, practised anecdotes were shared with us. We discovered where an element of the dish came from, or given a glimpse into the preparation. When we found out that a carrot had been pickled for a month in-house, it felt like the team had been preparing for our visit for that long. Descriptions of technique showed us that our hosts were not cooks – they were elite artists. Without saying it directly, it positioned them as experts in their field.

What engaging stories can you share with your clientele? It doesn’t have to be about fine dining. Maybe it’s the tomato that comes from a special location, where the uniqueness of the soil creates the most incredible tomato on earth. Or what of the raspberry jam, made to Grandma’s secret recipe? Capture the history of your neighbourhood. Find something cute, amusing, suspenseful. Tell stories that make your food stand out by adding character, so that your customers can share these within their own circles.  

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*photo source - instagram @ezardmelbourne

EXPERT TACTIC TWO: Little Surprises Are Your Talk Trigger

What’s your talk trigger? One of my favourite podcasts – Foundr (definitely check this out) - recently spoke with Jay Baer about creating differentiators to build word-of-mouth. We don’t rave about a perfectly adequate experience. Instead, we relate experiences that are out of the norm, retell the things we didn’t expect. This is something you can control. As Jay says, you turn your customers into “an army of advocates”.

Ezard’s provided us several talk triggers, including some extra ‘little somethings’ not on the menu, during the evening. My favourite was a palette cleanser brought out before the dessert selection. The fresh shaved ice brought back memories of eating refreshing cold ‘ABC’ in Kuala Lumpur and Ais Kacang in Singapore. It’s this point that starts all my conversations about our night – something that added meaning to the night, and was provided ‘for free’.

Do you have a talk trigger? My dentist has one – your choice of a broad selection of T2 Teas on arrival (note: I never have one – yet I tell everyone about it. Now that’s an excellent talk trigger!)

What’s the one thing people are desperate to share after visiting you? It doesn’t need to be extreme, just something that is easy for your customers to relate and retell.

EXPERT TACTIC THREE: Present on the Perfect Plate for Sharing

Everybody does it, right? The phone comes out and moments later, pictures of your finest creations is on Instagram and Facebook. So how does your food look when it’s photographed like this? Your customers want to share their experience – especially if it looks amazing!

Chefs take so much time to create then plate a beautiful meal. Presentation is one of the first things your customers notice. In your restaurant though, this is a small piece of the experience. A diner is enjoying the ambience of your venue, the aroma of the food as it is served, the conversations, the laughs… the event.

Then someone snaps a photo and shares it with 10,000 of their closest friends on Instagram - so how does it look? These people don’t have the benefit of being there. Instead, they are going to make a judgement based on a photograph taken on a mobile phone. Are you investing time or money into beautiful presentations, then dishing up on a plate that photographs poorly? 

As you’d expect, Ezard’s plated their food impeccably. For a tasting menu, made up of small serves at each course, there was vacant space on every plate. Just imagine if they made a poor tableware choice – the presentation would be ruined!

Are you getting the best support with your Food Display, Tableware and other Hospitality supplies and ideas? Have a chat - call us on 03 9763 9300 or message via our contact page

Here’s a trick… look up ezardmelbourne on Instagram, then look at photos that other people have taken there. Do this by clicking on the final icon above their photo grid (photos where they have been tagged) and also by looking up the location (under “places” in the search screen). This will show you images from visitors to the restaurant and (mostly) not from the restaurant itself. Notice how well their plates photograph (when photographed like amateur shutterbugs) Next, do the same exercise for your own business. Is your tableware showing your food at its very best to the people seeing it online? What does your menu look like when it is shared by your customers?

When choosing your next tableware, consider additional elements to what you have typically done in the past. Will light or dark colours work best in your venue, based on the lighting and style of food? It’s not an exact science – and already you are juggling many choices. Don’t be afraid to test your next plates like this to find something that works best with your creations.

 

There you are - 3 techniques that help you help your clients promote your business. Let your creative spirit run wild!

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*photo source - instagram @ezardmelbourne

Are you getting the best support with your Food Display, Tableware and other Hospitality supplies and ideas? Have a chat - call us on 03 9763 9300 or message via our contact page

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