October 19 2014 – Robert Fiumara
Every restaurant wants their menu to have a wide appeal and to cultivate interest from customers across each and every generational period. That said, the Baby Boomers really are the largest generational audience, accounting for approximately 44% of the population and 70% of the expendable income. These older customers are far more likely to dine in compared to other generational segments, and often dine without the company of children, which means that they’re far more likely to watch and evaluate the performance of your staff. If you want to keep this particularly conscious and attentive generational group happy, you will have to pay attention to all the pretty little details.
While nearly every restaurant opens up with the server greeting the customer and telling them their name, very, very few guests will inquire about their server on that definitive and instrumental first visit. Take an opportunity to have them talk about themselves. Instead of having servers introduce themselves, have them inquire about the guest and learn about them. This will cultivate a great feeling of investment for the guest than simply writing your name on their napkin or ticket ever will.
Boomers are also incredibly interested and critical about their dining experience, so drop the mystery about the prep and get them involved. Talk about the origins of their food with them and discuss the cooking process. Don’t be afraid to know and share where your ingredients are coming from; the Boomers will appreciate the insight and knowledge.
Following that, the Boomers are a very value oriented group. Always ask first and grab second. Before removing a plate or utensil or other table item, politely ask first. This creates another key bonding opportunity for your servers and their guests. It encourages an interaction that will be missed by those servers that just take it upon themselves to clear the table. It also shines brightly for those particularly courtesy-oriented patrons.
Building further on the courtesy train, careful attention to word and noun usage is important. Avoid referring to a group as “guys” and opt for more gender neutral terms such as “folks or “y’all”, particularly where it is more colloquially regular. Baby Boomers appreciate the courtesy more than other groups, and they’ll appreciate that simple attention to detail more than the more tech –oriented young generational groups.
Above everything, Baby Boomers appreciate courtesy, interaction, and attention to detail. More than any other dining group, you have to interact with and bond with your Boomer patrons. If you do, you’ll see more and more of them frequent your establishment.