What's in Your Walk-In?
My guilty pleasure is watching the lineup of shows featuring restaurants or bars gone bad. "Kitchen Nightmares," "Restaurant Impossible" and "Bar Rescue" are my favorites. I use our DVR to record the shows and then watch an episode when there is down time later in the evening.
Regardless of the show, the premise is usually the same: a restaurant/bar is having financial troubles. The owner can't understand why they don't have more customers, because they feel the food is perfect and there must be something wrong with people in the area. The host of the show comes in, asks a number of questions and samples the menu. Almost always, the food is atrocious, the staff in disarray and the restaurant itself is dated or dirty. Investigating the food further, our host decides to check out the walk-in cooler.
This is when the dramatic scary music starts. Instead of neatly labeled fresh product, the host finds everything from mold to mice lurking amongst the food awaiting hungry diners. I'll spare you the gory details, but watching these shows does help keep me from doing any midnight snacking. Every episode, I wonder why the owner didn't make sure the walk-in looked good. They knew a TV crew would be alongside the host, inspecting the contents. Taking a little time and making sure things were in great shape would have saved embarrassment and significant verbal berating.
Almost always, the restaurant or bar is totally made-over and attitudes are turned around. It begins making a profit and the staff is rejuvenated. Gordon Ramsay, Robert Irvine or Jon Taffer walks off into the sunset, ready to take on their next challenge.
While those of us with offices, conference rooms and product showrooms might be running to make sure there are no layers of dust on anything our clients might see, making sure that our 'walk- in' is in tip-top shape goes further. Even if our client doesn't physically visit our office, they're getting glimpses of our day-to-day every time they connect with us.
- Email—Something as simple as our email signature can affect our image. A simple font (such as Ariel) and a concise, consistent signature don't detract from the message we're sending. Images, while attractive if used sparingly, can wreck havoc with the recipient's spam filters. Too many links can do the same. If you are promoting something that is dated in your email signature, be sure to update your message as soon as that date occurs.
- Social Media—If your business Facebook page hasn't been updated for the past few days, you've got the equivalent of molding fruit in your 'walk-in.' Keep your posts fresh and relevant to your audience. If you don't have time to make updates at least every other day, use Hootsuite or a similar platform to schedule in advance. There are plenty of people within and outside the industry more than happy to help with this for a nominal fee. Outsourcing this to someone who can make updates while customizing to your brand might be very worth the impact fresh product will provide your brand image.
- Phone—This should be the no-brainer, considering that every one of us grew up with the telephone, regardless of our age. However, it still shocks me how many professionals seem to think that eating while on the phone is 'ok.' (Yes, technology has improved phone reception, so it's easier to hear someone munching and smacking on a juicy apple than ever before.) Working from home is much more the norm today than ever before. Keep background noise to a minimum. I absolutely love dogs, yet it's distracting to hear Fido in the background punctuating your end of the conversation.