Consumers can be tough to please – and when you add higher menu costs, smaller portions and substitute ingredients to the mix as restaurants have had to do in recent months, it becomes extra challenging to try and win guests and retain them for the long term. But experience still counts for a lot – it’s what is making people choose restaurant meals over meals at home right now – and your restaurant can provide it in little (sometimes free) ways that pay off with guests. Consider how well you’re managing these parts of the restaurant experience: Be prompt with your greetings when people walk in the door. Offer water to guests waiting for a table and promptly collect drink orders from guests who are seated in your dining room. Encourage your staff to recommend dishes to guests – it demonstrates that they care about (and enjoy) the food they are serving and it presents your employee culture in a positive light. Take care with cleaning your dining area and restrooms. Leave people with a positive final impression by making your guests’ exit from your restaurant as smooth as possible – by allowing them to pay via QR code, or letting them split checks without fuss, for example. Finally, find ways to reconnect with them after they leave. That could be sending a loyalty program member an email on their birthday. Or, if a new guest provided their email address when making their reservation, follow up with a guest survey, an invitation to receive future offers, and maybe a free appetizer if they return to you within a few months.