It takes more than just a degree in marketing to excel in the hospitality industry. Take it from Ryan Bishti, whose impressive business portfolio, which includes London hot spots like The Windmill Soho and Restaurant Ours, continues to thrive in 2022. Bishti chalks up his impressive entrepreneurial portfolio to persistence and planning, with a keen dedication to his four pillars — customer service, decor and ambiance, client experience, and generating customer loyalty — that ensure business success in the hospitality industry.
After nearly two decades of dedication and remarkable business ideas, Ryan has become an innovator in the hospitality industry. He began his entrepreneurial journey with degrees in psychology and marketing that formed the cornerstone of his business methodology. Throughout his career, Bishti has opened new hospitality landmarks for London, his most recent being the refurbishment and reopening of the historic The Windmill Soho in 2021.
The Windmill proves to be a perfect rendition of Ryan’s steps to producing a hospitality icon. The restaurant is a unique fusion of entertainment and high-end cuisine, featuring a dazzling array of cabaret, acrobatics, and music paired with a striking menu of wagyu beef and to-die-for drinks. Its success is particularly remarkable because the restaurant opened in the middle of a pandemic that has ended many hospitality-related businesses in London. So how does Ryan continue to ensure the success of his new restaurants and hospitality businesses? He focuses his efforts on four key components: customer service, decor and ambiance, client experience, and customer loyalty.
Without customers, hospitality businesses fail. Ryan Bishti knows this better than anyone and thus emphasizes that the most critical component of a restaurant’s (or any hospitality business) success is customer service.
Customer service encompasses a business’s actions to serve its clients’ needs. From advising on drinks to helping customers get a cab post-meal, customer service provides the foundation for generating a positive relationship with a restaurant’s client base.
To promote excellent customer service, Bishti recommends owners emphasize training the staff who engage with customers. Servers, greeters, and management are the faces a client will see when wining and dining. Attentive staff capable of fulfilling customer needs in a timely fashion, whether it’s a drink refill or advice on appetizers, adds a level of professionalism to a restaurant that keeps guests returning for future meals.
Decor and Ambience
Why do some clients choose a specific restaurant over another? This question bothers many restaurant owners, especially when two competing restaurants serve the same cuisine. Usually, the answer revolves around the environment a customer experiences at the restaurant. When opening a restaurant, Bishti notes that owners must understand and emphasize the personality and vibe of the restaurant for the clients to identify with.
Distinctive decor and ambiance give restaurants an edge over their competition. Ultimately, the environment must do some of the work to ensure a successful opening. Consider this: Who would want to eat in a dark, moldy basement even if a Michelin-starred chef makes the food?
What does crafting an environment that highlights the restaurant’s identity mean? Consider the target audience. Is the restaurant appealing to wine lovers and romantic partners? Is the restaurant a place for families to hang out? The decorations for either theme are different. For example, a romantic ambiance uses dim lighting, classical paintings, and mood music, while a family restaurant may have arcade games, movie posters, and pop music.
The previously mentioned categories of decor, ambiance and customer service all play a significant role in Bishti’s third component for a successful restaurant opening: client experience. The client’s experience consists of their interactions with restaurant staff, entertainment, and food that culminates in their overall opinion of the restaurant.
Creating an optimal client experience does not necessarily mean crowding every client with a million choices — too many drinks, too large of a menu, or even too-loud music can drive away clients. Instead, restaurant owners should create a targeted experience for clients with a goal in mind. They should ask themselves how they want clients to feel when leaving the restaurant: Should they feel calm, relaxed, uplifted, or ready to party? Whatever the goal is, the experience should help cultivate it.
Additionally, restaurant owners need to give their clients value for their time. A positive client experience is an equal trade between customer and restaurant: The customer leaves having enjoyed their time, and the restaurant receives payment for the enjoyment. To create value, restaurant owners can provide exclusive menus, unique entertainment, or a special ambiance no other restaurant has nearby.
Generating Customer Loyalty
For a restaurant opening to truly be successful, Ryan Bishti notes that customers need to return. A restaurant’s true mark of success is a loyal customer base. But many restaurant owners struggle to generate customer loyalty with a single visit.
Bishti has a recommendation that instantly earns repeat customers: Make an immediate promise to clients and keep it. The key is to ensure the promise is something the restaurant can do for every customer. For example, promising delicious food and a relaxing night in town is something a restaurant can create with a combination of customer service, decor, and tailored menus.
When customers see promised experiences kept, they develop a trusting relationship with the restaurant. Trust keeps them coming back. Restaurants can go a step further by tailoring aspects of their restaurant to loyal customers — perhaps a secret menu, sneak peeks at new entertainment, or even birthday discounts can help increase the likelihood of customer loyalty.
Positioning a restaurant for a successful opening is not overwhelming or stressful. Ryan Bishti’s methods have repeatedly proven that restaurants can thrive provided the four critical components of customer service, decor and ambiance, client experience, and customer loyalty receive their share of attention.