On average, Australians spend $44 to $95 on restaurant meals each week (source: ASIC’s MoneySmart). It’s actually much higher than most of the items in terms of weekly spending:
- Personal care ($29)
- Child care ($18)
- Bakery products ($20)
We don’t even have to include how in some occasions spending on restaurant meals will go much higher than $44 (especially if we also count the takeaway meals). Also, economic and population growth will further drive consumption of restaurant meals. After all, more and more people could be spending more resources on experiences (eating in a restaurant) instead of spending money on material things.
A huge opportunity for restaurant owners
This spells a huge opportunity for restaurants that provide good food and experiences. As the standard of living improves and as more and more people look for convenience (going into the restaurant instead of cooking at home), expect the opportunity to get bigger and more lucrative.
However, not all restaurants can survive and thrive for years to come. After all, there’s uncertainty and the ones most focused to the customers often always win (plus there’s some factor of luck in there). To maximise your chances, it’s good to take advantage of every opportunity to improve the customer experience. Well, preparing excellent meals should be a given because customers won’t come in if the food is bad in the first place.
But to go beyond that, it’s important to focus on the business process and customer experience as well. How does the food arrive to the customer? How are customers welcomed? How will your restaurant generally look and feel like? The answers to these questions form a composite image and feel to the customer about your restaurant. In other words, your brand is being built not just by the food, but also by how your business runs and how your place looks and feels like.
Why customers will choose you
Before, we mentioned that it’s good to take advantage of every opportunity to improve customer experience (and this goes beyond preparing excellent meals). After all, customers have a wide variety of options and small details do matter. In other words, other businesses can actually have the same exact food your restaurant is preparing. It’s the small differences that make each restaurant unique in its own right.
For instance, aside from serving great healthy food it’s good to make the restaurant interior to communicate health and environmental awareness as well. Adding noticeable wood elements and green objects would reinforce this message. This also provides image consistency and it’s also a great opportunity for a restaurant to set itself apart.
Another example is in having a restaurant on the city fringe. The restaurant interior should somehow complement or match the urban atmosphere, which is why many restaurant owners and managers design the place with an industrial and modern feel (e.g. putting Scandi furniture that are simple and yet stylish).
It’s a similar case when doing a successful restaurant fitout with a Japanese design theme (a good example is Tetsuya’s in Sydney, or other restaurants that offer Asian cuisines). The restaurant should set a clear expectation of what it serves to customers, which is why the restaurant exterior and interior should communicate that expectation. Customers should immediately “feel” what they’re about to eat. This way, their expectations will closely match the reality.
Aside from setting and meeting customer expectations (and remaining consistent with your brand image), it’s also good to make the restaurant interior different from the rest. As mentioned before, it’s very likely that the food you’ll be serving is also being served somewhere else. What will set apart your restaurant is how unique it looks. This is a huge challenge because you have to combine several elements and make them coherent all the while making sure your restaurant looks and feels like no other.
Ensuring a successful restaurant fitout
It all starts with the customers. What will they eat at your restaurant? At what time they will eat? The answers to these questions will affect not just which meals you’ll prepare, but also how will your restaurant feel and look like.
For instance, will customers eat at your place during a Monday lunch break during work days? If that’s the case, then it’s good to prioritise simplicity (but still with some details that differentiate your restaurant), modernity and speed. After all, the customers will eat at lunch break and they need something fast. The place should also somehow look modern and industrial to match or complement how the customers’ offices look like.
On the other hand, if most of your target customers will eat during weekends and after work hours, it’s good to make the place warm, friendly and different than what a typical workplace looks like. After all, they’re taking a break from work so your place should communicate the same. In other words, your restaurant should provide some feeling of escape from the modern pressures of work or business.
Will it be industrial, rustic or contemporary? Again, this depends on who will your customers be. If young professionals are your target customers, it’s good to have an industrial theme (but still making it different from a typical corporate office). But for elderly customers (e.g. retirees, old business people), having a rustic theme might be a good idea. After all, a rustic theme shows credibility, strength and history.
It’s also good to pay attention to which kinds of events should happen at your restaurant. Will it be a couple’s date, a family function, an informal friendly gathering or a more formal business meeting? The restaurant’s appearance and atmosphere should just be right according to the events it will hold. For example, a restaurant for dating should impress and communicate class and elegance. It’s especially true in traditional forms of dating wherein the man somehow needs to impress the woman. But for informal friendly gatherings, a restaurant with bright colours and bold style might be good.
A lot of details you need to get right
Customers are quick to feel whenever something’s off in the restaurant. Perhaps their experience didn’t meet their expectations. This could happen if the design theme doesn’t match the food you serve and the people you attract to your business.
To make it right for your customers, it’s good to remain consistent with your restaurant’s appearance especially when it comes to the interiors. The appearance should follow a theme so that customers will feel that the place is right for them.
But what about your restaurant’s identity and what sets you apart from other businesses? It’s estimated that there are over 20,000 restaurants (this might also include the cafes) in Sydney alone. Although there’s still a lot of space and opportunity, the competition is fierce. In a few years it’s possible that some of those restaurants will shut down.
But for your restaurant to stand out and succeed, it’s good for your restaurant to have a strong identity. This can only be accomplished if the food you serve is excellent (or it’s good enough and reasonable for your target customers), your business operations are solid and your branding is top notch.
One way to create a strong brand is by focusing on the restaurant fitout. After all, it will be permanent and its results could greatly affect your customers’ perceptions about your restaurant. As mentioned earlier, it’s also about the experience (and not just the food they eat) and that favourable experience can be crafted if the details of your restaurant are excellent.
Here at Signature Joinery & Design (SJD), we have collaborated with architects and interior designers in creating a unique and consistent space for restaurant customers. We have already handled several restaurant fitout projects in Sydney and as a result, we’ve become strongly familiar with various restaurant requirements and themes. Contact us today if you want your restaurant to look excellent and reflect your brand values.