A Lesson In Sales and Marketing From An Italian Restaurant (In Lanzarote)

Even when I’m technically on holiday I rarely shut down completely.

I always have ideas flying around my head or see something which I take inspiration from.

I’m also always looking out for how other businesses serve me to see if I can learn any lessons from them – especially those in sales and marketing.

Well last week I was having a few days in the sun (well, some sun and lots of cloud actually) in Lanzarote.

Nothing too fancy, but a chance to me and the hubby to have some us time and unwind a little.

We’d already decided that on this particular evening we were going to enjoy an Italian.

The hubby had already received a tip off from a local as to where the best one to try was.  Not the main ones in the central square we were warned, but another just off the beaten track.

This was good enough for us; and we trekked in their direction with an optomistic outlook and a craving for some good pasta.

We found it easily enough; and the appearance from the outside was both open and welcoming.

It looked impeccibly clean and the all-white exterior made it appear somehow angelical almost.

As we peered toward the illuminated, and oversized, multi-lingual menu a lady came over to see to us.

She was Italian.

A great start we agreed.

Especially when you’re not actually in Italy.

She asked us what we fancied for dinner this evening and I told her pasta.

I also explained that I don’t eat meat I was stuggling with many of the other meat heavy menus.

She immediately had a solution for me.

Thankfully, they offered a sort of mix and match menu whereby I could choose any one of several hand made pastas and then any of the pasta sauces – all freshly made from scratch too, you understand.

She had the immediate solution to our problem and to gently help us to a decision she wisely pointed out that there was only one table left outside now – which there was – and that perhaps we should consider taking it before someone else did.

We agreed and took the table.

We were seated and given menus to explore.

Before the waiter could even get to us the maître d’  was back at our table.

She presented us with a complementary glass of pink fizz each whilst we waited.

Whilst I was enjoying the drink – and was mulling over which of the fantastic sounding sauces should accompany my pasta – another waitress appeared.

She presented us with some homemade hors d’oeuvre.

And they were good.

Like, really good.

And, of course, on the house.

So, why were they doing this?

We’d not as much as even had a chance to order our drinks yet and we’d already enjoyed a free glass of fizz and some homemade appetizers.  

Some people might think it’s even counter productive.

What if we then didn’t order drinks?

Or perhaps we might skip the starter and go straight for the mains?

Well, we didn’t.

And I doubt many others do either.

In fact what we did was make sure we had a chance to sample some starters (when we often don’t) as we wanted to see what else the chef could come up with!

We also ordered a large jug of frozen margarita because, well, because we were on holiday.

You see subconsciously the Law of Reciprosity was at work here.

By accepting their generous complementary gestures we were now in their debt.   When someone does something for us, we instinctively want to do something back for them.  We like there to be a balance.

I think there is every chance that this restaurant knew that.

Most people won’t take the freebie and run.   Most people will actually end up spending more.   As we did.   As your customers might.

It’s not an uncommon sight – even in UK restaurants – for you to presented with a free drink at the end of your meal.   Maybe a liquer or perhaps a limoncello – depending on the cuisine of the restaurant.

This is usually after you’ve paid.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to stack up that goodwill at the start and not the end?

We were then able to reflect on how wonderful an experience we were having right through our meal.

Our starters and mains in turn came and were quickly devoured.

The food was good.  Interestingly, it wasn’t fantastic.

In fact, we’d had better already on this trip.

But you see that didn’t matter.

Because going out for dinner is more than just about the food you are eating.

It’s about the experience.   It’s about turning off your phone and connecting with your partner.   It’s about enjoying the ambience and the atmosphere.   It’s escaping in a moment.

This restaurant understood these things.

They had wonderful staff, providing a wonderful experience in a wonderful environment.

To bring the story to a close the maître d’ was back at our table after our plates had been cleared away to make sure that we’d had a lovely evening.

We assured her that we’d had a lovely meal and indeed a lovely evening and that it had been one of our favourite finds of the holiday.

Without missing a beat she asked if we’d like to share that experience on TripAdvisor as they love to read what people think.

I wasn’t surprised to see that 89% of their guests had rated them 4 or 5 stars on TripAdivsor, as I added another five star review to their portfolio.

Even the way they asked for reviews was a slick process.

The only thing she didn’t do was try and book us back in for the following night…

As beauty business owners we are in the experience business too.

It’s not just about delivering great treatments.

It’s about how you make your guests feel from the first minute they are with you until long after they’ve gone.

Just like this Italian maître d’ make sure that you 

  • listen to what your client wants and show them how you can satisfy them
  • consider how the Law of Reciprosity could work for you 
  • go the extra mile
  • ensure the overall experience is one they go away talking about for all the right reasons
  • make sure they’re delighted and then ask for a review

What is the best experience you’ve ever had from another business and how did you learn from it?

I’d love to hear your stories below in the comments!

And if you happen to be in Lanzarote any time then I’d thoroughly recommend Cesare Ristonante Italiano.   


Hollie Power Salon Business Coach

About Hollie

My goal is to help others achieve more with their beauty businesses through growth, sales and marketing. I like to see it as adding some sparkle to the beauty world.

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