What makes a great restaurant: Part 1.

A simple enough question, but how easy is it to answer?

Let’s think of some of the most obvious answers; great food, great service, fantastic atmosphere, superb decoration. That’s all good. Sorted. Job done.

Or is it? It seems every week there’s a new restaurant popping up just around the corner. And as one opens, one from last year is closing, despite it seeming to tick many of the aforementioned boxes.

Equally as strange, you could say, is the somewhat scruffy restaurant that’s been there for years, in dire need of some tlc, yet is crammed to the rafters every night whilst the shiny new-ish thing around the corner is almost empty.

It’s a strange phenomenon, but we’ve all seen it I’m sure.

If you ask people, walking out of the scruffy but busy restaurant why they go there, you’re likely to get some obvious and predictable responses; the food is well priced, service is great etc. Then look at the chaps around the corner; their food is pretty good, maybe it’s even a bit cheaper.

I have a theory. In much the same way when people buy a new car, they cite lots of logical and practical reasons why they need the shiny red model rather than the slightly cheaper and just as capable brown one; it’s got better brakes, it will depreciate less etc.

"This is the nirvana-like place all great businesses want to get to"

The real reason is this; they just love it. They’ve formed an emotional bond with the shiny red car. It makes your heart skip a beat, adds a bit of colour to your cheeks.

We all use logic to justify emotional decisions. It’s a natural human phenomenon. This is why, so often, market research is flawed; because when asked, people will have logical reasons for this and that, which gives you the false impression that their behaviour is in some way predictable based upon the laws of logic and reason.

Whereas, if you ignore this and look a little deeper, you will see that people form what seem to be illogical emotional connections to brands. A sense of personal connection that in reality means they can even overlook certain shortcomings and become defensive when people question or criticise.

This is the nirvana-like place all great businesses want to get to. It’s the place where you don’t have customers, you have followers, believers, fans. It’s the place where people will defend you in the face of criticism; even if that criticism is justified sometimes.

I believe that this state can be created; that you can create a brand that truly connects with your customers. How? Well we’ll start at the beginning in our next post in this series, Making Them Fall in Love With You …

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