Industry sector:

Chinese catering: Customer profile

The nature of your customer base will depend to a certain extent on:

  • the sector of the market you are targeting
  • your location
  • the time of day

Some Chinese restaurants build up a core of regular customers, which may change depending on the time of day and day of the week. For example, during the working week the restaurant might cater for local business people, but at the weekends the clientele might include more families. The Saturday lunchtime trade might include lots of shoppers.

During the early part of the evening your clientele might consist of families, but when the pubs close many of your customers will probably be young adults.

In some restaurants, for example in busy city centres or in holiday areas, you may rarely see the same customer twice.

It is a sad fact of life that some Chinese restaurants and take-aways have to cope with drunken, abusive and even violent customers. In some cases customers may refuse to pay their bill. Make sure your staff are prepared for this eventuality and know what they should or shouldn't do.

How will customers pay

Depending on which payment methods you accept, your customers might pay you in cash, by cheque or by debit or credit card. Some customers might order and pay online through take-away ordering services like Just Eat. People may sometimes buy pre-dinner drinks at the bar with cash, so it makes sense to put in place adequate cash handling systems and keep cash in a safe place.

You might decide to accept vouchers too - for example Luncheon Vouchers.

Think about whether you will allow customers at the bar to open a tab and put drinks on the bill for the table, which they settle up at the end of their meal.

Special offers and discounts

Many Chinese restaurants offer customers free or discounted meals or free drinks for promotional reasons. Although these are always popular with customers it's important to make sure that you will make enough profit if you decide to have special offers.

Don't forget to brief your staff on which customers are entitled to a discount, and how much. Guard against staff offering unauthorised discounts to their friends and relatives.

No shows

Restaurants of all types suffer from no-shows - people who book a table but then don't turn up. Individual businesses tackle this in different ways - some don't take bookings, others regularly overbook. You'll have to decide which approach suits you best.