Thursday, 31 July 2014

Meal Deals, BOGOF %off etc

This morning I answered a phone call to the restaurant. The lady enquired what special offers we had at the moment. I replied that there were none and started to explain our approach to ‘deals’ when the phone when dead.

It never ceases to amaze me how people are so easily conned into buying things because of a perceived  ‘deal’, Special Offer etc. This has become so ingrained and widespread that even honest suppliers feel obliged to follow or otherwise lose market share.

Virtually every business is there to make a profit and support their owners and employees families. They are NOT Charities. Restaurants in particular are very competitive and involve considerable hard work; there is little opportunity for vast profits and an easy life.  Giving out discounts will therefore have one of the following consequences:

·        Quality and size will have to be lowered to match the discounted price,
·         Some customers will have to be charged more to pay for those charged less,
·         Profits are cut so the restaurant becomes unviable and closes.

Cutting quality has become widespread during the recession. Two for One ‘deals’ or their variations abound. In reality you are not getting, for example, a £12 meal plus one for free, you are getting two £6 meals – much lower quality than the headline advertisement. I have found this with supermarket wine. I have been tempted to by a £12 bottle of wine at half price (more than once I am ashamed to say). After tasting them – I would have rated them £5 bottles of wine – poor value at £6 cost and a total rip off at the £12 claimed price.

This leaves us with a dilemma at Thai Lanna – we are passionate about our food quality and definitely don’t want to move into the area of other quality restaurants – a large plate with a tiny splodge of prettily arranged food in the middle – leaving you hungry after its finished. We are also proud of our policy of fairness and won’t charge some more to pay for others. Our profits have been sufficient to keep us in business for 13 years but not enough to allow us to live extravagant lifestyles or retire. The recession was very hard for us and had it persisted we may well have closed.

Our only way forward relies on the majority of our customers appreciating the quality and value we offer and continue to dine with us. There will be no 2 for 1 ‘deal’s at Thai Lanna as it goes against the principles we are passionate about and make us successful. Taking this a step further – perhaps meal deals are an indication of an unsuccessful restaurant, desperate for business!

Town Centre Restaurants

The old adage - “The three most important requirements for a restaurant are location, location and location” is often used. The best locations ore often identified as town centres – but why? Few restaurant customers live in the town centre so people have to travel to the town centre. Busses are often unusable, taxis expensive, car parking difficult and the wet English climate a challenge for those that have to walk any distance to the restaurant. Returning home through the weather and throng of ‘merry makers’ thrown out of the pubs round off the evening in an unpleasant way. Whilst location is important, I fail to see the attraction of town centres.
The Thai Lanna –Chasewater restaurant is located out of town, just 300m off the A5/A453 Chester Road roundabout. It has its own fenced off car park and you can park just a few metres from the door. Most local taxis also know where it is. Thai Lanna can not only offer great food, but the prospect of a civilised journey home. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Thai Restaurant Newbies

A common theme with some of our new customers is that they have been meaning to come to Thai Lanna restaurant for years. We had been recommended by their friends/family, but they could never sum up the courage. Reasons given include “I thought it would be too spicy”, “what if I don’t like it?”, “I don’t know what to order” and “we have never eaten foreign food before”.

We understand these concerns and others – I personally dined at a restaurant in Lichfield and rushed home to eat as I was not only £25 poorer but still very hungry! Our reputation is somewhat better and over the last 13 years, hundreds of tentative customers from 2 months to 100 years old have dined with us and their concerns rapidly fade away. Many return, some just a few days later.
  • Firstly, some Thai dishes can be spicy, but many are not. We cook food to order to maintain its freshness, so some dishes can be ordered to taste. 
  • Secondly, we have a menu with over 100 choices, which should accommodate most tastes. 
  • Thirdly, our staff are trained to help customers chose their meal, or if preferred we offer seven set meals which are specially selected to offer a balanced meal.
Additionally, we recommend eating the ‘Thai Way’. This is where the table shares the dishes ordered. This not only provides a wider and more interesting range of tastes, but if someone doesn't like a dish, there are several others to choose from.