How to Build an Army of Customer Advocates

Ladies & Gentlemen I have a news flash! The best form of marketing in the World is...


Social media is a waste of your valuable TIME – AND- Traditional Advertising is a waste of your hard earned MONEY. Only about 5% of all restaurant owners know how to market effectively. That means the other 95% of you are just wasting your time and money.

So if you are NOT a marketing genius and you don’t have the ad budget of Coca-Cola or Budweiser, there is only one way to build a restaurant that will be packed – every night.

AND - Today I’m going to share the secret formula for how to do that… with you…

Hey It’s Peter Harman The Food Guru here with your weekly Pep Talk… My goal is the teach restaurant owners, managers and chefs, like you to focus on Eight Basic Fundamentals that lead to a better life and financial freedom.


The secret to building a great restaurant is to determine who you are and what you will do for your customer. Then, turn that into the Customer Promise. The customer promise is what you promise to do for your customer in exchange for their money.

The big secret is to tell your customer who you are and what you are going to do for them AND then – DO IT..! Did you hear that… I repeat…

The big secret is to tell your customer who you are and what you are going to do for them AND then – DO IT..!

If you are the best place for Tacos… be the BEST place for Tacos.

If you are the best place to get a Margarita… be the BEST place for a Margarita.

If you are the best place for a steak… be the BEST place for Steak..

When a customer knows who you are they will put you through 13 different tests to see if you are what you say you are. Think of these tests as 13 links in a chain, the strength of the chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link and if any of the links break – not only do you fail that test – but you lose the customer forever!

Remember it’s not only if YOU fail the test – but if ANY member of your team fails the test…

YOU and your restaurant fail the test and lose the customer – forever.

Nobody is perfect. Nobody can be 100% Perfect. If your restaurant can improve by 10%, your sales will go up by 10%. If you improve by 50%, you sales will go up by 50%. This is a fact. When your restaurant improves so will your sales. The quality of your restaurant = the amount of your sales.

Here are the thirteen tests.


The customer experience begins when the potential customer first becomes aware of your restaurant. This could happen when they drive by in their car, or when they see or hear you on the radio, TV, Facebook or wherever. The best way for potential customer to to hear about you is from a trusted friend or acquaintance - who tells them how awesome you are and how much they love your place. This is called Positive word of mouth… Positive Word of Mouth is the greatest and most powerful form of marketing in the world. It is the fastest way to get a potential customer to take action and come in for a visit.

The best way to create Positive Word of Mouth is to Deliver the Customer Promise and create happy customers who become customer advocates… A customer advocate will tell everyone they know about you and your restaurant. Remember this – First Impressions Last… So be sure that your first impression in a really good one.

TEST #2: The Google Test…

The next thing that a potential customer will do – is google you... This will bring them to your web site, your Facebook page, your google page, twitter, Open Table or Toast. It is very important to make a great impression here. Your website is the closest you will ever come to perfection. This is where you tell your unique story, and tell the customer what you Promise to do for Them. Your website is where you make - The Customer Promise.

Be sure that the information on your website and Facebook page is up to date and accurate. Be sure to have nice photos that tell the story of who you are and what they can expect when they dine with you.

People will also be able to look at your online reviews to see what other people have to say about you. Your online reviews are also word of mouth from people who they don’t know, but they are important words from people who have been to the restaurant. This is where a potential customer will learn if you live up to your promises or not. As you know, positive reviews are good, negative reviews are not.

Think of it like this. Positive word from a valued friend is worth 10 points. Restaurant review from an unknown person is worth 1 point. If all you have are on line reviews to judge by, that is what you will use. A positive recommendation from a trusted friend is always the best way to go. People are looking for confirmation that coming to your place – AND taking a chance on YOU is a good idea.

Here is a pearl of wisdom for you – We never go anywhere physically until we - first - go there mentally…

This means that we use all the information that we gather from the sources I just mentioned and use that to create a mental image. We imagine what the experience will be like before we go there - Then, we judge the quality of the actual experience compared to what we expected upfront. The experience is either better or worse than we imagined. When the experience is better – you win. When it is worse – you lose.

If they like what they see or hear – the customer will move to…

TEST #3: The Telephone Test

The customer will call the restaurant to make a reservation. This is a BIG deal, because - this is the First real contact that they will have with you and your people.

Here are some things the person who answers the phone must do:

  • Answer the phone with a smile in their voice

  • Be professional and know what they are talking about.

  • Get the reservation correct, (Date, Time, # of people in the party.)

  • Ask if this is a special occasion or the reason for the visit?

  • Ask if they have been here before? (modern reservation software like Open Table will help determine this)

  • Ask if the guests friends have been there before?

  • If there are NEW people who have not been here before, make a note to do something special for them while they are here.

  • If the telephone conversation goes well – you will get a new customer, if the person who answers the phone – blows it – You will fail the test.

Here’s an interesting thought…

Have you ever wondered why some customers are No-Shows? Maybe it’s because they were so underwhelmed by the reservation process, that they just blew you off? And - They just weren’t interested in the torture of re-calling to cancel.


When the guest walks in the door, they are going to take a big sniff and a long hard look at everything. The place must match the pictures they saw on your website. Your place must be clean, comfortable, safe and inviting… and it must smell good too. The bathrooms better be Clean – I mean surgical clean. If my feet stick to the floor and the bar smells like stale beer – you fail the test – forever.


The host must look and act the part. It starts with a big warm smile and friendly hospitality. The host must check their coats and get them seated ON TIME and give them CLEAN menus! Then, the host or seater must answer any questions the guest may have AND not seem in a hurry to get back. Then, the host must say, my name is John, and I will be around all night, please let me know if I may be of any further assistance. Then, The host hands the guests over to the waiter… This is Margaret and she will be serving you this evening.


The waiter must greet us within one minute, look the part, be professional and do their job 100%. The first thing the waiter will do is take our drink order.


We meet the Bartender… maybe not personally, but we meet them through their drinks. We measure the bar by the quality of the drinks. Wow – this is the best Old Fashioned I have ever had. It has a huge round ice cube, one of those awesome awesomeItalian cherries and a fresh orange twist, excellent. If there is lip stick on my glass – you fail the class, so be damned sure your glassware is spotless.


This is when we meet the Chef. We measure the chef by the quality and presentation of the FOOD. It is critical that the food be excellent, because it is the main reason we are here and the main reason we will or will not come back. Food must be GOOD. Hot food must be HOT and cold food must be COLD.


This means the waiter and restaurant must time the experience with military precision. If we have to wait for drink and get our entrée before the appetizer – it’s lights out, game over.


When we look at the bill for services rendered, we make a very important distinction.

Was the experience worth the price.

Remember what Aldo Gucci said… Value is remembered, long after the price is forgotten…

Aldo was right, customers will forgive you for high prices – but not - for lousy food, drinks and service.


My restaurants all have a club, and each club has at least15,000 members. We give our club members something special on their birthday and also - special offers and insider information throughout the year. The club allows us to keep in touch with our customers, guests and clients.

So, test #11 is - Will they join the club? The question is - Do they like us enough to give us their contact information? Yes – No or Maybe?

This is also called permission marketing, when the customer gives us permission to contact them. Never violate the privacy of your club members and always be good to them.


Do we keep in touch with our club members (friends) and invite them back – or not…

Restaurants that do this thrive - restaurants that don’t – go out of business.


When we execute all the steps above perfectly… our Customers, guests and clients will say WOW! And they will come back and bring their friends. This is the ultimate test – will the customer return.

The goal is to get the customer to have such a great time, that they return again and again and bring all their friends - AND – those friends, bring their friends - and those friends bring their friends – over and over again and again.


The fact is that marketing is a crap shoot, sometimes it works – sometimes it doesn’t. The greatest marketing in the world cannot and will not save a lousy business. The best form of advertising and marketing is – Positive word of mouth from customer advocates and raving fans.

Your job is really simple – work on the things that you can control… You can’t control Google, you can’t control Facebook, you can’t control the weather – but you can control the steps of service inside your restaurant.

My Name is Peter Harman, I am the Food Guru. My goal is to start a restaurant revolution where every restaurant owner, manager and chef who joins us has the information they need to earn a 10% Profit, create financial freedom and live the life of their dreams.

If you really want to turn your restaurant and your life around in the next 90-Days, here’s my simple Plan.

  1. SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST This weekly pep talk will keep you on your toes and give you inspiration to keep moving forward.

  2. BUY MY BOOK I have written a book called Restauranting 101, it focuses on Eight Basic Fundamentals - it has the power to change your life and it's available on Amazon - Buy it Today.

  3. SIGN UP FOR A ONE ON ONE COACHING SESSION. We all need a Coach… as a restaurant owner you need SOMEONE TO TALK TO, someone who understands your struggles, someone who can help you build a strategic plan, and hold you ACCOUNTABLE for your results. Sign up today at This is NOT a webinar or large group event, I will not shuffle you off to an assistant. This is you and me working together to solve your problems…

Think about this opportunity for a second, what are you waiting for? What are you afraid of?

Imagine a little kid at the public swimming pool…

He wants to dive off the 10 Meter Board - 30 feet above the pool like the really cool kids.

He climbs the ladder, he walks out on the board, he looks down at the water – TERRIFIED…

Now imagine this is you – looking at the opportunity to move your restaurant forward…

What are you going to do?

Dive in head first or Are you going to retreat in shame and slink back down the ladder..?

I say jump – and be proud of yourself… The second you hit the nice warm water you will feel a huge sense RELIEF –

I want to be your coach… I want to help you get to the next level – I want to help you live the life of your dreams… You can do it I’ll show you how…

When the student is ready – The Food Guru will appear!

This week your homework assignment is to –dive into the pool!

See You Next Week!

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