There's no doubt about it. Having lovely food and tasty ingredients are definitely at the top of the list when it comes to getting repeat customers.

But, it’s not only about great food. You can have the most unique, tastiest dishes in town, but without a few other key elements in place, good food isn’t enough to keep customers coming back.

Since the pandemic, the restaurant industry has become more competitive, with many facing closure and business owners and marketers thinking of new ideas to keep engaging with customers and making sales.

No matter how great your food is, what else do you need to keep people coming back, or praising your restaurant to their friends?

Try these tips to make sure your venue is providing customers with the wow factor!

Health and hygiene

Hygiene factors are the most important factors coming into play for customers, when it comes to eating out, according to research.

More than three quarters of people asked said they would put a restaurant's hygiene as one of the most important factors when considering whether to come back, in the survey, run by the NPD Group.

With the pandemic and people not able to eat out for some time, hygiene of a hospitality premises comes at the top of the list, next to high quality food and ingredients.

Quality Service

It's the little aspects of service that make it amazing. Your staff remembering their customers' names, noticing when customers need a top-up of water.

Even the way that your team deals with a complaint or quibble can be the turning point to determine whether that customer returns or not.

When customers dine out, they're paying for great service as well as the food, which can add up to a whole variety of small things from the moment they step in. Great service doesn't only improve the rate of returning customers, it also improves the overall quality and reputation of the restaurant. Hiring the right people, providing staff with professional and in-depth training and making sure everyone is committed to delivering consistently great service are the keys to achieving this.

Standout Decor Features

The décor of your restaurant speaks of its identity and characteristics. Your décor should be pleasing to the eyes with a design that makes your space stand out. This means that you have to think about the lighting, the colour scheme, the exterior and the interior. Every detail of the décor should be paid attention to. It would cost you more to change the décor later on.

Appealing menu

The design of your menu is important because this is how your customers get to know your food first. A spell-checked menu with a brief description of each item can help customers get into the mood even more. You can write down what is special about your cuisine and ingredients but do make sure the customers don't need a gastronomic dictionary to translate.

Consistency Builds Trust

Consistency is what preserves customer loyalty. Your restaurant location might change, staff come and go, but the standards you aim for should never compromise. Stability and reliability are what will your restaurant stand out from your competitors.

Clean toilets

We've already mentioned hygiene here, but we thought clean toilets deserved a title all on their own. Cleanliness is close to godliness! No matter how clean your restaurant is, customers will always remember the dirty toilets they had to endure - and will tell their friends (which you don't want). Allocate staff to checking every hour, wipe surfaces down, make sure floors and the toilets are kept clean - and keep toilet paper topped up! Good lighting, luxurious hand wash and air freshener demonstrate attention to detail and your customers will be grateful for it.

Staff Attentiveness

There is nothing worse than the feeling that waiting staff are quietly grumbling that you've called them again or rolling their eyes when they think your customers can't see. Staff warmth and attentiveness comes across in lots of small ways - a smile at the entrance, asking if the food is okay and making eye contact are key ingredients here.

Varied Drinks List

Customers do care about the drinks on offer and like to see a good variety, including craft ales and non-alcoholic beverages. Not only does there need to be a decent selection, but they should be reasonably priced, too. There is a lot of money to be made from drinks as the margin is huge - but the price needs to be right. Your drink menu should be well laid out,

Taking these steps will build your business' reputation and, most importantly, please your customers to tell their network about the great experience they had.

Getting these points right at every visit will build your customers' trust in you, one of the essential aspects of keeping them coming back.