When it comes to running a restaurant, great food, superb customer service, and an incredible location can only get you so far. The long-term relationships you build with your diners are what keep your business running for decades.

Building this kind of long-term relationship starts before your customer walks in the door. It takes just seven seconds to make a first impression, and in the restaurant industry, it’s typically not the food or drinks that a customer sees first. 

Since new customers have yet to try your mouth-watering entrees or exclusive cocktails, they focus on what’s around them: the atmosphere, as expressed by your interior design. An incredible interior will send the message to your customer about your experience – one you will follow through on all the way to last call.

 A good first impression has immediate benefits for your business. When customers feel positively about your location, they’re more apt to share it with their friends. Here are some key ways to get that Instagrammable bar or restaurant design your customers will love sharing.

Focus on the Positives

The days of customers photographing their food are quickly moving behind us. Perhaps inspired by studies that say photographing your food makes it less appetizing, smart restaurant owners are now offering a more holistic experience for their customers – one that involves not just the quality of the food, but the start-fo-finish experience of dining in your restaurant.

Before you make any remodeling decisions, think about which parts of your current interior design create the most customer interest. Is it a particular decoration or mural? Are there color choices you want to emphasize? Do guests take photos outside the restaurant more often than at their tables – or vice versa?

This kind of information can greatly improve your experience when working with the interior designer. Having foreknowledge of where you want to improve or maintain will lead to better ideas when it comes to deciding how your business will evolve – and where it should remain the same.

Don’t Cling to Tradition

If you like the current look of your business, there may be a temptation to avoid changing anything at all. As the saying goes: Why mess with success?

Yet a restaurant remodel offers several advantages to your bottom line. A proper facelift can increase sales 10 percent each year for six years – a much better ROI when compared to advertising. Moreover, a remodel gives you a great opportunity for online marketing opportunities. You can involve customers every step of the way by uploading pictures and videos of your refurbishment, thereby driving buzz and more sales.

Not everything needs to change at once. There may be some aspects of your restaurant you want to survive any remodel, such as a favored heirloom or particular bit of decor. This is particularly true of long-standing, family-run businesses. If that’s the case for your restaurant, keep track of these cherished aspects, and let your interior designer know what you want to build around rather than replace. 

Your restaurant should always reflect your business’ personal theme – while keeping current on trends. In fact, industry experts recommend a remodel as often as every five to seven years. While this is a recommendation rather than a hard rule, you may be surprised to see how much your competitors are keeping abreast of current trends – and how much your customer’s dining experience improves after an exciting interior update.

 Show Off Your Space

A successful remodel doesn’t just involve architecture. You and your customers may take great photographs for the ‘Gram, but without the right strategy – and hashtags – your audience reach online is greatly diminished.

Finding the right hashtags to use is a bit like the interior design – you want to be aware of trends without completely following them. There’s room for originality in your posts alongside consistent, time-tested strategies for building an Instagram audience.

Let’s start with the basics: posts with a hashtag create 12.6 percent more than posts without. Identifying the most effective hashtags can take time, but a remodel doesn’t mean you have to spend your current strategy. In fact, with the right photos, your interiors can really speak for yourselves – and draw first-time customers in via word of mouth.

Photos of your most stunning spaces, taken in high-quality and with natural light, will help you stand out from competitors and bring a new facet to your marketing. Better yet, focus on posting pictures with customers and staff. When your social media followers can picture themselves in your restaurant, engagement increases by 34 percent.

You may not often highlight the design of your restaurant on Instagram, yet these kinds of photos fit in perfectly well alongside photos of food, staff, and promotions. 

A Better Interior, A Better Restaurant 

A full restaurant or bar remodel can be a daunting task. Some owners lose sight of their initial vision as time wears on. Yet in today’s social media atmosphere, where standing out and following trends are essential, the power of a well-designed interior can be a massive boon to every other aspect of the business.

Designing your strategy and space around an Instagram-ready look means more customers – and a more appetizing presence in today’s design-driven hospitality experience.

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