“Can I have the burger with no tomatoes, extra mayo, lactose-free cheese, and sub the bacon for avocado? And make sure it doesn’t come in contact with any peanuts!”
If you’ve heard this before, you’ve met the picky customer. Or, you know, the many customers who have an allergy.
Your staff’s ultimate nemesis – the picky customer – may not be the easiest to handle, but we’ve got some tips that can help you turn a picky customer into a loyal customer.
Here are five ways to win the battle against the picky patron.
1. Offer More Modifications
You’ve worked hard to create your menu, and your staff take pride in knowing the ins and outs of each item. But as a restaurateur, your primary responsibility is to the customer – so if you’re noticing more modification requests in your POS reports, it may be time to consider switching up your menu to more readily accommodate your guests.
Stay one step ahead of the picky patron and make it easier for them to pick and choose. They can’t shred your menu to pieces if you already have! Create a ‘Make Your Own Burger’ section on your menu, offer a variety of add-ons for salads, or even let your patrons build their own cocktail.
2. Highlight Common Allergies
Allergies are becoming much more common and diverse, so be sure to label any common allergens that can be found in each dish under the item’s name in your menu. But don’t wait for your customers to scan the whole menu – ask your servers to identify the dishes that may cause an allergic reaction.
Does your Mediterranean Chicken Salad contain peanuts? Bold that ingredient in the item’s description. Are your chicken fingers battered in dairy? Let your customers know.
The last thing you want is for your customers’ allergies to go unnoticed. When you highlight common allergens, you’ll remove the guesswork behind what your patrons can and can’t eat.
3. Embrace the Chef’s Table
If you can’t beat them, join them. Open the eyes, ears, and stomachs of the pickiest patrons with the chef’s table experience.
When your customers understand why you choose certain ingredients over others they will be more likely to understand how each ingredient works together to create the final meal.
But before you start, ask your diners about their dietary restrictions and apply them to the food you’re preparing. Show them how to enjoy your restaurant’s most popular dishes, within the limitations of their strict diets.
The educational experience of the chef’s table will help you impress even the pickiest of your patrons.
4. Feature Your Specialty Items
Does your restaurant offer specialty items for patrons who are lactose intolerant? Do you offer vegetarian and vegan options as well? Use icons on your menu to help them stand out.
Add a leaf emoji to your restaurant’s zucchini pasta, herb salad, and chocolate-vegan ice cream. Attach a dairy-free sign next to the items your lactose-intolerant customers will love, or a gluten-free sticker on your buckwheat noodle salad.
These symbols will make it easier for your customers to quickly identify the food they can eat. The faster they're able to order their food, the faster you can watch your 'nemesis' walk out your restaurant’s doors with a smile (yes, you read that right) on their face.
5. Bill Splitting
You may have impressed your picky customers with your food, but don’t underestimate their pickiness. Your patrons could be waiting all meal long to strike.
A server’s worst nightmare – having to split the bill in a million and one ways. Keeping track of who ordered what can be a very tedious process, especially if your records are written on a small notepad. So why not ditch the paper and bring on a POS that can help you easily split bills between patrons?!
Win all your battles by clarifying your ingredients, educating your customers, and perfecting the split bill – your sanity will thank you!
About the Author
Alex is a Content Marketing Intern at TouchBistro where she writes about food and restaurant dining experiences. She’s a lover of all things chocolate covered but her true passion lies in late-night eating.More Content by Alex Fainblum