Customizing is Trending Hard

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Lamb Chops

How does your restaurant view custom orders? Do you get
frustrated when someone asks you to leave out an ingredient or requests a
different side? It might be time to reconsider your position.  Why? Well, it seems that customization is
leading the way when it comes to hot restaurant trends.

Why Customize?

Do you remember the old Burger King “Have It Your Way”
campaign and motto? It was that customer-driven image that helped Burger King
become a serious competitor for McDonald’s. Today, that personalized approach
is back.

From sushi places that let guests design their own rolls to
grills that encourage people to pick their portion, ingredients, and more,
designing one’s own meal is hot and
getting hotter. This trend is huge in the quick-service niche, but it is also
taking off in other areas of the food industry. If you aren’t letting your customers do at least some
customization, you are going to miss the boat.

It is the “handmade for you” aspect of dining that really
drives this trend. Guests like the idea that the food they are eating is both
fresh and individualized, even if it is fast food. Furthermore, since few
diners are impressed by nutritional information, regardless of where it is
printed, letting them pick and choose seems to be a reasonable way to let
guests adapt a meal.

Don’t Abandon
Standardization Either

Look, there are always going to be those customers who don’t
want to fuss. They want to order their
“number three” meal and get moving. For them, restaurants who do customize
continue to offer standardized meals; the sandwich, drink and fries combo, if
you will.

While you make changes to allow your guests more options,
keep at least some of your standard meals on the menu so that you can
accommodate those who prefer them. Another advantage to such meals is that they
are usually faster to prepare.

How Hard is it to

Your ability to customize dining experiences will depend, at
least to some degree, upon the kind of food you are serving. It is simple
enough to leave out an ingredient when you are working in a high-end restaurant
even if you don’t think the dish is complete without it. On the other hand, the more specific a guest
is about changes, the harder it can be in such an environment.

If you are in the casual dining industry, it can be as
simple as setting up condiment tables for restaurant guests to serve themselves,
allowing them to tailor make their entrée. Of course, if you are in the sushi business, your bar tables are already
set up for you to customize the meal. Change your menu so your guests can check
off the roll or maki, the type of filling, and the style of presentation and
you are ready to give customization a try.

A little creativity will go a long way in helping you
conquer this trend and give your customers a greater role in creating their
ideal dining experience.