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How to Serve Millennials and Boomers Alike

2 minutes Read

Millennials-and-BoomersRestaurant owners walk a thin line when it comes to appealing to all customers. Some of your diners are clamoring for a mobile app; others grumble when you change the menu layout. What’s a small business to do? Here’s how to be modern enough for millennials without making your older customers feel lost.

Find Out What Your Customers Really Want

Don’t assume that you know what your customers value most. To find out what they love about your business, and what they wish you would change, you need to get feedback.

  1. Conduct a survey. Create a short customer survey that people can take online; have printed copies available, too. Some sample questions:
  • What changes would you like to see most? (Offer options and a fill-in-the-blank section.)
  • Would you use your mobile phone to browse our menu and place orders for pick-up? (Offer a 1-5 scale for “very likely” to “not very likely.”)
  • What do you enjoy most about your experience here? (Offer options and a fill-in-the-blank section.)
  1. Have purposeful conversations. Encourage conversations between employees and customers. The more input you get, the better you’ll be able to spot customer trends. These patterns of desire—both for change and for stability—will help you decide which updates matter, and which features need to stay the same.

Make a Short List of Options

Next, it’s time to analyze the results. Look for two particular data points: what customers want you to change, and what customers want you to keep the same.

  1. List your needs. Create your own list of priority changes based on the needs of your business. Which changes impact the bottom line and enable you to run a better business? Out of those changes, which ones fit into your budget?
  2. Find the overlap. Once you’ve created your list, compare it to your customer feedback. The updates that meet your priorities and gel with your customers’ expressed wishes comprise your (working) change strategy going forward.

Balance Changes with Stability

People want to feel comfortable; for some customers, that means few changes in a traditional setting. For others, convenience and digital access are what feel most familiar. Your job is to find a balance between modernity and stability.

  1. One at a time. Don’t overhaul your business to become relevant; you’ll overwhelm your staff and alienate your customers. Instead, tackle one change at a time. For example, you might start by installing a new POS system; a few months later, make some interior upgrades. Next, invest in a mobile app. Achieving progress by a series of changes is easier on your older customers and on your budget.
  2. Keep your options open. No matter what, avoid forcing change on your customers. Instead, create options. For instance, your more traditional customers may not care if you add a mobile app, online ordering and tablets-at-tables as long as they can still chat with a real person.

Make one change at a time, while guarding the familiar elements that your customers love most. The slow-and-steady approach will keep your tech-savvy customers happy and your not so tech-savvy customers comfortable.

 

 

Photo credit: CREATISTA/shutterstock.com

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