In the hospitality industry, brand image is everything. Whether you’re large or small, an independent or part of a multinational chain, customer experience is key and getting this right, starts with your premises portraying a consistent and quality brand image.
If you are offering a high-end restaurant, a pub or a chain of hotels, customers need to know what they’re getting and to enjoy their experience from the moment they step through the door. Hospitality businesses that stay ahead of customer trends, don’t just react to change but are one step ahead in understanding what their customers want.
Now more than ever, competition is fierce in the hospitality sector, particularly with the increase of casual dining and with eating venues in retail shopping malls joining in the battle for customers. What we’re saying is: it pays to invest in your image. It is those businesses which put thought into their interior design and focus on the whole experience that ultimately win and retain customers.
Take Bistrot Pierre as an example. We spoke to Paul Warner, property manager at Bistrot Pierre which began more than 20 years ago in Nottingham and now has more than 20 restaurants across the UK. He answered three key questions about the importance of brand image in this exclusive Q&A, the first in a series where we aim to bring you views that can make a real difference to your business.
Why is brand image important to your business?
Brand image is vitally important. The look and feel of our restaurants is everything – our customers need to enjoy their dining experience and that’s always our number one priority. We have a national profile with restaurants across the UK – each has its own style and unique touches but the interior design reflects our wider brand image and is consistent across all our restaurants around the UK.
How often do you invest in refurbishments or maintenance for your restaurants?
We invest in quality interior design and maintenance on an ongoing basis to ensure that the customer experience is never compromised. By working with partners such as Fresssh Image, we’re able to carry out bespoke maintenance work in our restaurants in an efficient and timely manner. Ultimately, the refurbishment of a whole restaurant comes down to keeping abreast of customer trends in order to ensure they’re getting the best dining experience.
How do you manage brand image across multiple sites to ensure it’s consistent?
Brand image encompasses multiple factors but ultimately, it’s about the customer experience and interior design plays a big part in that. The design has to be well-maintained for customers to understand what they’re getting from our brand. Ensuring consistency of experience is vital in such a competitive industry. It’s also about staff understanding the Bistrot Pierre concept, our brand ethos and how the restaurant should look and feel – which is why the property team take so much care and attention in carrying out regular visits to ensure that every restaurant is fulfilling and exceeding expectations.
Having worked with brands such as Bistrot Pierre, we know that the day-to-day upkeep can be a challenge and carrying out regular maintenance of furniture must fit around trading hours. After all, hospitality is all about maximising footfall – therefore business disruption isn’t an option.
The lead up to Christmas is the time when the hospitality sector generates a significant proportion of its income. The post-Christmas/New Year period is subsequently a popular and convenient time for venues to consider a refurbishment; customer footfall and spend is less, disruption is less obvious.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a complete reimage but it is important to keep on top of maintaining the image you want your customers to experience. Recovering sections of stained or worn seats can work equally well, as can refinishing table surfaces damaged over time by spilt drinks and inappropriate cleaning.
In summary, competition is fierce in the hospitality industry and those businesses which don’t invest in maintaining their image may ultimately get left behind. A build-up of negative customer reviews about the state of your furnishings or interior design can be difficult to recover from.
Here at Fresssh Image, we know how important brand image is and maintaining that image is everything.
This blog was written by Annika Hobbs, Director at Fresssh Image with special thanks to Paul Warner at Bistrot Pierre for his guest contribution