To improve the business of a restaurant, the owner may first start with improving the food and drink or paying for more promotions. Most of the restaurant owners do not consider the ambience as part of the plan, unless they are opening a new restaurant. Ambience does not sound like something that is flexible enough to be changed after the opening. Changing the ambience often means renovations, which is a big cost to pay.

We will break this misconception. Ambience is in fact one of the most influential factors to your restaurant business, and at the same time, changing the ambience of a restaurant may be easier than you think.

Enchant the diners with the magic flute

The magic flute may just be a fictional item, but how the music is able to influence the human behaviors, including eating behaviors, is actually very scientific.

Proven by consumer research and social science studies, people speed up chewing and finish the meal quicker with high volume and fast-tempo music. In contrast, when they hear slow-tempo music, they tend to spend 20% more cash in the restaurant. (Source: CNN & Association for Consumer Research)

The implication is that, if you wish to maximize the table turnover rate, you can play a fast track in peak hours. In quiet hours, you can make the guests stay longer and order more with a piece of soft jazz music. No matter what music you played in the restaurant, it is better than playing nothing.

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Color your restaurant to hypnotize the diners

Changing the color theme of the restaurant is like talking to the diners at a subconscious level. There are researches that prove colors having an impact on eating and drinking preference.

Red provokes hunger and the desire to order more

Blue makes people thirsty and stimulates drink orders

Green echoes with healthy and natural ingredients

Orange and yellow make people joyful and feel less guilty for eating sweets

You may think this is easier said than done. To change a color theme, the restaurant may need different sets of the painting, the floor, the light and the furniture. Fortunately, there is a shortcut to it.  

If you are looking for a more economical solution, like most smaller restaurants do, digital signages can help change and set the color theme quick and easy. Placing your signages at eye-level, somewhere visible to diners, can replace the need of coloring the whole restaurant.

On top of cost advantages, there is one more advantage of using digital signages. Instead of plain colors, you can show vivid images belonged to a certain color theme. Comparing to a yellow light, a smiling girl holding a bunch of yellow balloons will make the joy and desire for sweets more contagious.

Better than just a plain blue light, showing a sea with clear blue sky will make the thirst and the desire to drink even stronger.

Curate art and photography to tell the brand

Branding helps customers make an impression of your restaurant, recall the dining experience and return. Atmosphere often influences the first impression more than the logo and the advertisement.

Like those hotels dressing up the space with art pieces, you can also dress up your restaurants with different art and photography. To choose the right visual styling, there are a few basic questions you need to answer:

  • Who are your target customers?
  • Why do the customers love your restaurant?
  • How should your customers feel?
  • What is the most distinguishable difference between your restaurants and the others in the same category?

For instance, if you sell the freshest seafood in the office area, you may want to show some iconic images of fishing at the crack of dawn, which may hint the freshness and make the diners feel refreshed in the midst of a hectic work day.

Experiment and optimize the atmosphere like a scientist

No one knows the best ambience for your restaurant, not even the smartest brand agency or interior designer. They cannot guarantee how much more you will earn with a certain change in the atmosphere. You should not over-invest in the ambience setting before you know the right formula.

You should try compiling a different matrix of music, colors, photos, and videos, test them on business days for real and see how it impacts the behaviors of your diners and the revenue you make.

To make it practical and easy, you can design different playlist, not only for music but imagery and video also. Nowadays digital signages allow you to pre-set different playlists of videos and images and schedule them to play at the right time and place.

Once you know the best mood and tone of the atmosphere, you can then consider spending more on the rest such as lighting, painting, and utensils. Before you make any big investment on the ambience, it is wise to test and learn enough beforehand.

Running a restaurant is not easy, sometimes you need to be both an artist and a scientist at the same time. Good luck!



About the Author

Rex Lam

A marketing consultant passionate about helping businesses recognize the beauty and power of visual communication


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