As someone who helped to spawn and continues to help run a small business, I'm often reminded of how important it is to get outside of your own head, and into that of your customer base. Case in point:
A friend and I went to Red Ginger for lunch yesterday. I'd not been there, but with his expressed preference for Thai and my reading of good reviews it seemed like a nice bet. We headed a bit out of our usual downtown Salem lunching grounds.
Upon entering, we see a board with specials listed on it. Pricey, with entrees in the $10-15 range. Sounded like dinner to me, but I wasn't sure. The board is right there inside of the door and is the first (and only) information you see upon entering. I wanted Thai and didn't care, though.
Imagine our surprise when we were seated and given full menus topped with a lunch menu offering many scrumptious options for $7 each. Wow!
I was damn pleased with our service, the simple fresh goodness of our meals, and the ambiance. Especially the ambiance. So much of Salem's dining sector seems to skimp on the decor and the feel, as if to say, "We know there's nothing better, so we don't care. Live with it." Frankly... I can cook my own food. When I go out, I want an experience. But I'm getting off track.
During our meal, I noticed a man walk up the sidewalk, come in the door, look at the posted menu board, and then walk out. Given that at noon the lunch rush consisted of one two top and one other diner in a restaurant that was the bomb--from my first impression anyway--I was worried. This spawned discussion with my friend.
We suggested to the server that they might want to rethink their lack of touting their fantastic lunch specials, and the first impression the misplaced dinner specials board was giving people. At first she tried to correct us... we were mistaken, and the board was for dinner specials, not lunch. It took us a time or two to get across to her that we were trying to impart to her what others were seeing, and that iw as a problem with presentation and perception, and it might help encourage business if they looked at what they were presenting from the eyes of a new, potential customer. It finally clicked in her head and she thanked us and said she'd pass it on.
I hope so, for Red Ginger served us very well for lunch, and I'd love to take friends there for dinner. They need to kick it up and stay around!