Food Management 101; Selling the Sizzle (Perception)
We all have gone to the Steak House that brings you the steak on a metal platter “sizzling hot” or the Mexican restaurant that brings the fajita meat out “sizzling hot”. This is a great marketing tool for meeting the public’s expectations. It is a great way to keep food hot to put it on a metal plate, but it is great marketing because of a thing called perception. We perceive the meat to be extremely hot and more importantly very freshly cooked. I do not in any way want to leave the impression that the meat might not be hot or fresh, my point is in the food industry we live or die by perceptions.
I had a boss tell me one time that “Perceptions are reality until proven otherwise.” This is why it is as important as a restaurant manager or owner that you reinforce the public’s positive perceptions. It is equally important to try and dispel any negative perceptions. This is why so many restaurants don’t survive their first year or two in business. How many times have I heard my wife say that if the bathrooms are a mess what does the kitchen look like? If the tables or chairs in the dining room are dirty what kind of attention to detail are they paying in the kitchen? Both of these are very sound and viable questions that could very well have a great answer that will explain the perceived problems. There could have been a bus of 40 people just came in with no warning and the staff have not recovered yet or they may be very short handed due to illness. The important point is perception is what it is and the only way to keep a bad perception from forming is to try to anticipate potential challenges and be prepared for them. This is management’s biggest hurdle; that of anticipating potential challenges before they occur and being prepared to solve them.
I truly do enjoy eating in an establishment that has that “sizzle” down because they are working as a team. In a restaurant that is working as a team then the “sizzle” is what the perception will be and it will be a positive dining experience. In today’s society eating out is a form of entertainment and as such the standards have been raised. The dining experience should be fun not just filling. So go enjoy the “Sizzle”.