I spend a lot of time eating out in both restaurants, café's and pubs and I see similar mistakes that each make on a regular basis, some of these mistakes are very easy to rectify and may be harming your business without you realising it.
I am sure you will know image and reputation is the be all and end all in this type of business, but some times it is the simple things that places fall down upon and seem to neglect what to me are ready made marketing opportunities which if employed will help set you aside from your competition.

Clearly the food you sell must be of the highest standard and priced appropriately for your target market coupled with the level of service must be very attentive and speedy. I visit many places that actually have the main ingredients of a successful food business but just seem to miss the trick when it comes to what else can be done.

One of the main areas of neglect is the toilet area, lack of cleanliness in this area will cost you repeat business, I see so many restaurants that have good table layouts in a warm clean welcoming environments yet have average or grotty toilets. People will make assumptions that if your toilets are not of a high cleanliness standard then it is likely that your kitchen is the same; this is very bad for business. If you spend money on advertising to help bring covers through your door and you have toilets that are not sparkling a percentage of that advertising revenue is being wasted as your customer retention percentage will be lower than it could be.
As a guide you need to aim for the same standard of cleanliness that you would expect in your home within your business, it is also not acceptable for it to start looking ok and deteriorate throughout service.

If you spend some time and money bringing your toilet area up to a high standard and maintain that same standard throughout the service period your reputation will flourish far greater than if you ignore it.

This is a very important area of neglect when it comes to many restaurants, café's and pubs serving food, it isn't rocket science and fairly easy to assess and improve and can be used as a great marketing tool. Another area you can improve upon is to make sure your customer leaves with something that carries your name, a business card can be a very good way of improving your customer retention. Lets make some assumptions that your customers have enjoyed your cordial atmosphere the quality of food along with your presentation and service levels not forgetting the final link the cleanliness of your facilities including the toilets, when they pay the bill always give them two business cards that they can take away and keep, they can carry your name on one side and up and coming events or special offers on the other, like everything you do when it comes to image you must not skimp on the quality of these important marketing tools as they can be a good link between your actual and your perceived image. The reason you should give two away is simple - one for them and one for them to give away to either friend's colleagues or relatives, word of mouth is one of the most important marketing ploys available to your business and a business card will reinforce the message.

The internet is a great place to buy from but you must be aware not to buy low grade quality, I would suggest 400gsm with matt lamination to both sides is the standard that you need to aim for, Betterprint is a good site to take a look at - you don't have to spend the earth to start improving your marketing techniques. If you follow these two fairly basic rules your customer retention will improve greatly and in turn will improve your profitability.

Let me know if you have had any good or bad experiences and feel free to comment on my blog.