08 May, 2008

What Turns You On...

… as a customer that is (for the rest of you that chanced upon this site due to other *ahem* reasons, well shame on you… but I hope you enjoy your stay nevertheless).

You see, for those who know me well enough knows I always wanted to start my own food business – café, restaurant, hawker, etc, you name it and I bet you I have thought about it. I was just chatting with a friend recently who had prior experience to operating a café and we were debating on what would make a customer tick, what turns a customer on, that they would give your place a try, till the point you convert them as a repeat customer, that they would frequent your outlet again and again.

My friend said that it is food that will eventually draw the people, but my argument was hiring a chef is costly and risky for a start-up café and it will never achieved a Michelin Star status. There is no way it can compete with the many established outlets in our small and competitive market. My stand was on service, ambience and even the theme of the café.

So to settle this debate, I have set up a poll, and I want to hear from you my faithful readers. Put yourself as a customer passing by my establishment, what ticks you? And what would eventually lure you to become a regular customer of my café. And for those who choose “others” as an option, do to leave me your comment and tell me what you think otherwise.

P/S: Do not tell me all are important, but what is the ONE important factor that will absolutely rock your boat!


michelle said...

price. i'm not referring to cheap prices, but value for money. it should be at the price where it is worth me spending the money, yet not too expensive so that i will revisit often. (think miss clarity. i think it was very wise for them to adopt that business model.)

as well as friendly service. if i feel welcome there, and i get remembered whenever i visit, it usually strokes the customer's ego and they are more drawn to return.

but that said, it depends on the nature of the business. if it is a cafe, then the ambience of chilling out must be alluring...

okay. talked too much. =)

Steve said...

All I want is to be made to feel welcome - and to believe that that welcoming is genuine.

There was a great restaurant called the Satay House in a nondescript suburb of a pretty nondescript city called Launceston. The restaurant was out the back of a parking lot of a large supermarket, just near a bowling alley. It was a seedy location - yet we kept going back because the owner waited on the tables, personally greeted us, and sat down at every table at least once in the night and talked about the food - and generally made sure that you were happy.

We got to the stage where we never asked for the menu - we just let him choose for us - and he never disappointed.

That restaurant is unfortunately no more, and I search in vain for a restaurant with the same open arms, that imparts a sense of belonging to its clientele. If I do, I'll be a customer for life.

Steve K

His Food Blog said...

Wow! Login this morning and I am greeted by two long comments. Looks like everyone has something to say with regards to their dream cafe. Keep the comments coming - I am hearing you!

Mich: ONE factor! Heh... which of the three you reckon is most important to you? Value for money, service, or ambience?

steveky: Welcome back. I agree - I truly believe service or personal touch in this case makes a HUGE difference. We often hear, especially in Singapore, customers complaining about service.

Also with the influx of Chinese nationals as service staffs, many Singaporeans are beginning to lament in the local newspaper that they cannot get what they order and feel a barrier between customers and the establishment.

Anonymous said...

If I got to choose one and bearing in mind that it's a CAFE, it would be ambience for me. Cafes are mostly for chilling out and as long as the food isn't atrocious and ridiculously priced, ambience is the way to retain crowds. But best if there is 1 shiok dish or 1 type of signature food.

Just look at Essential Brew (made sitting on the floor cool) and Haato (they provide free games & comfy seats)

If it's a restaurant, then value for money! (Ya Kwang)


Anonymous said...

the food! it doesn't have to michelin star worthy. hawkers don't have the ambience but still a lot of people flock to them.

but to have only one factor is pretty hard. so can i rank it in this way:

1. food
2. service
3. value for money
4. ambience (for a cafe setting)

Anonymous said...

hmm... example: look at ciao italia. not exactly the best ambience, it's rather small and squeezy. but food is great and worth paying every cent.

service wise is fantastic since they are all italians, noisy and friendly as hell.

and look at the queue everyday. there you go! :D

His Food Blog said...

Looks like everyone has differed opinions, but it does seems like food is still a big factor for many of you based on the polls.

Keep voting and keep the comments coming!

fuzk said...

I voted twice. Once for food and once for service. Heh.

Michelle hit the nail on the head and I totally agree with her. It depends on where. One word - context.

If I'm in a hawker, I don't expect a waiter by the name of Jean Philip fussing over me, but, if I am eating in a restaurant, that will be a different story altogether.

Having said that, I think food ranks slightly higher in my books. In a typical restaurant setting (i.e. standard prices and what nots), I would go back if the food is good and the service not so; unless their service is REALLY crap... but then again, I have a low tolerance for bad service.

In the perfect world (or a restaurant with a Michelin Star), the food has to blow me away and the service has to be impeccable. There are really no two ways about it... or can it?

His Food Blog said...

The context is a cafe - I bet both you and Michelle never read the question properly - Heh :P, But I see your point.

Had another round of discussion with my friend yesterday. We concluded that all factors have to pass a minimum grade, but there must be one that is outstanding enough for people to come back.

Exciting times are ahead - keep the comments flowing~

Anonymous said...

hfb - hi I came to you from cowboy's blog. I've been in the F&B for about 6 years and am starting a venture with a friend. Would you like to be part of the discussion as we find this post quite interesting!

His Food Blog said...

Hi there,

Yeah I noticed a huge surge of visitors to my blog today, heh.

Sure I would very much like to be part of your discussion. You can reach me @ hisfoodblog@gmail.com.


Anonymous said...

i would rate food as 40%, service/rapport between you and the staff as 30%, and affordability as another 30%. I didn't say price because a 100 dollar mean could be deemed affordable to some people, no? Even though i know stall x serves great food, i have never visited the same restaurant/cafe more than once, because of the service, and because there's always new stuff to try in SG!

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