Unfortunately, the name "Bruno" has become a bit tarnished with last year's release of the movie by the same name, written by and starring Sasha Baron Cohen, the man behind the hit movie, "Borat."
I say "unfortunately" because we recently had a new restaurant open near us called Bruno's Seafood and Steaks. Sorry, all I could think of when I saw that name in big letters on the sign above the building was Cohen's character in the movie trailer shouting, "Hi, I'm Bruno!"
(If you haven't seen this for some reason, Google it and you'll see what I mean.)
We haven't tried out the restauA�rant yet, but a quick peek in the window before they even opened revealed not one, but two good strategies you can implement in your own organization.
Set Yourself Up for Success
They were set to open for busiA�ness on Friday, May 28-Memorial Day weekend.
Since they're being advertised as a "fine-dining" experience, they certainly didn't want any mistakes or missteps to occur when the first customers-and likely a restaurant critic or two-showed up for Dinner Restaurant.
So I was impressed when I saw a note taped to the glass on the front door that said:
To make sure we work out any last-minute kinks, and to deliver the best possible service, we will have limited seating on our first three days, May 28-30. Thank you for your patience and understandA�ing!
So while creating an expectation of an exceptional fine-dining expeA�rience, they also gave themselves an "out" in case anything went wrong, as was virtually guaranteed to happen.
You can practice and prepare for any situation, but you never really know what's going to happen until you're working under "real-world" conditions.
Certainly anyone joining them on these first three days will see the sign on the door, and will probably have had this explained to them.
Who Sets the Expectations?
The customers' perception of any interaction with a vendor-whether a doctor, a supermarket, or a restaurant-will be heavily influA�enced by the expectations they have going into the situation.
Waiting 30 minutes to be seen by a doctor, while annoying, is exactly what you expect to happen, so on the rare occasions when you get seen anywhere near the actual appointment time, it's cause for celebration.
Similarly, letting people know in advance that there may be a few "hiccups" at the restaurant is understandable, and by bringing this front-and-center, it lowers the expectations of the customers, so they won't be upset.
Naturally, you don't want to set the expectations so low that people won't even walk in the door, but promising a certain kind of experiA�ence, and then delivering someA�thing extra is a good way to build customer loyalty.
But We're Not Even Open Yet!
Now for the second smart thing they did: they have testimonials.
I know-how could they have tesA�timonials when they haven't even had their "soft opening" yet?
Actually it's quite easy-all it takes is a little creativity and a bit of boldness.
You see, Bruno had run a sucA�cessful restaurant in New York that got high scores in the Zagat survey and favorable write-ups in Newsday-a Long Island daily newspaper.
So rather than leave the walls of his new restaurant bare, he wisely chose to fill them with the very same plaques and framed, lamiA�nated reviews that he had hanging up at his old restaurant.
Since the food and menu were very similar, he must have figured that the praise and accolades he got up in New York would be just as valid here in North Carolina.
Really, there's nothing wrong with that-he didn't fabricate the reviews or ratings, and he was responsible for the product that earned those reviews, so why not take advantage of them?
You can use a similar strategy as well. When you're launching a new product or service and don't have any direct feedback you can use, then use previous testimonials from your other products and services to help convince people that you're a "safe bet". These "borrowed testiA�monials are almost as good as the "real" ones!