How a Robust Strategy can Drive Repeat Business
Maintenance is a crucial element of any hospitality venue. In today’s competitive market, whether you’re a pub, bar, upmarket hotel or restaurant, the look and feel of a venue is now more important than it ever has been. Keeping it looking good is as vital as the original investment if brand image is to be protected.
Walk down a modern high street or through a busy city-centre and the choice is with the customer. Fine dining, casual dining, a relaxed drink or a snack – the customer doesn’t have to travel far. With that in mind, hospitality businesses must continually focus on providing the best possible experience for their customers.
After the Christmas and New Year rush is an ideal time for hospitality venues to plan a freshening up of their interiors. The first few weeks of the New Year are a popular time for a refurb, as restaurants are quieter and finances post-Christmas are more likely available. After all, one of the first important dates in a restaurant’s New Year calendar is Valentine’s Day.
Recent reports suggest consumers are spending less time and money on shopping and more on eating out. With tough competition, it’s increasingly harder for restaurants, bars and hotels to impress their guests enough so they might return.
What we’re saying is: look after your furniture beyond routine cleaning. It’s important to be ahead of the game. Those businesses that invest in maintenance ultimately drive repeat business; badly scratched tables, worn, torn and stained seats simply won’t cut it in today’s saturated market. In all hospitality venues, accidents and spillages happen but red wine stains and food marks cannot be allowed to dominate the venue’s image long term. Visible damage almost gives customers permission to enhance that damage. Tears get bigger and cutlery is an ideal tool to engrave table tops. After all, it’s not the customer’s furniture, they don’t have to look after it. Restauranteurs must have a plan and a go-to expert to keep their customer dining areas looking good.
Take McDonald’s as an example
We spoke to John Kiely, franchisee of four McDonald’s stores in Coventry. The fast food chain’s UK restaurants are currently undergoing the ‘Experience of the Future’ upgrade scheme, which includes giving the furniture a modern and fresh look.
John answered three key questions about the importance of maintenance in this exclusive Q&A for Fresssh Image, the second in a series where we aim to bring you views that can make a real difference to your hospitality business.
Why is maintenance important to your business?
Maintenance is essential in this industry. We have thousands of people coming into our stores each week, so we must consider the wear and tear that this entails. Our recent upgrade plans prove that it’s an essential investment. Striking new décor has been installed in the stores, as well as self-service kiosks and table-location technology, placing design alongside tech to improve the overall experience.
How do you manage maintenance across multiple sites to ensure consistent upkeep?
It’s important to be proactive rather than reactive. Efficiency is key. A design and renovation service like Fresssh Image can present you with ways to look after your furniture before the maintenance has even finished. Keith and his expert team use modern equipment with traditional upholstery techniques to ensure an appropriate and tailored service.
Why do you think long term planning is important for hospitality maintenance?
We really value having a long-term maintenance plan, as it’s essential for us to know exactly what to do when our furniture is in need of repair. It’s clearly not cost efficient to buy furniture to just replace it a few years down the line. Bespoke maintenance plans must be put into place. By working with Fresssh Image, we created a complex floor plan of every single piece of furniture for each store, with details on material and maintenance tips for the future.
Having worked with brands like McDonald’s, we know that thinking long-term is important. We refurbished the furniture in two of John’s four stores, and we keep stocks of the relevant materials for when any re-upholstery or emergency repair is needed. The bespoke maintenance plan we created allows us to quickly pinpoint which specific seat needs attention without having to carry out a site visit.
Install with maintenance in mind
Plan ahead – invest in a long term strategy to minimise damages further down the line. If furniture needs replacing, prioritise future maintenance needs when planning the layout, the design and the spec. If you’re offering exceptional service, the aesthetics of the venue must match the offering.
As maintenance and fit-out experts, we often work on projects where furniture hasn’t been fitted with maintenance in mind. This can cause unnecessary headaches as it leads to a lengthier and more challenging maintenance. It is essential not only to design and install furniture that is built to last five years or so, but also furniture that can be disassembled to access the damaged sections that need attention. Hospitality businesses that consider maintenance when specifying their fixtures and fittings are one step ahead. It might mean that initial investment costs are higher to accommodate modular units, but that is recouped when only one module has to be removed for maintenance rather than a whole run. More often than not, this is attached to a wall which has been recently painted.
Looking at the bigger picture and figuring out the best solutions for your venue is essential when looking to upgrade. Looking holistically and strategically at your long term maintenance plans will help avoid future problems so restauranteurs can focus on retaining customers.
We enjoy working with our Fresssh Image customers to find cost effective and sensible solutions to their needs. Customers and our relationships with those customers are the core of our business. Make them a core of yours!
This blog was written by Annika Hobbs, Director at Fresssh Image with special thanks to John Kiely at McDonald’s for his guest contribution.