Finding The Right Music For Your Restaurant

Which one would your restaurant be?

Recently, my favorite restaurant critic wrote a post about music at restaurants.  In this post he recounts several restaurants that have made classic mistakes with their music selections.  Some restaurants had the music far too loud.  Other restaurants allowed their staff to select the music which led to some “interesting” selections.  Judging from the reactions in the comment section, guests have a wide variety of opinions on this topic as well.

Selecting the right music for a restaurant is a major decision for a restaurant owners and managers.  Some restaurants will stick with the traditional elevator music.  Others will play the owners favorite band on heavy rotation.  Occasionally, a restaurant will allow their staff to select the music.  All of these options lead to mixed results in the minds of these restaurants’ guests.

There is one very important criterion that should be the guiding force in determining the music to be played in your restaurant.  The music your restaurant plays should be determined by the personality of your restaurant.  This does not mean the personality of the staff, owners, or guests.  It should be the personality of the restaurant itself.

I have written in the past about how a restaurant’s social networking should reflect the personality of the restaurant.  Successful restaurants clearly have their own personality.  This often conveys the personality of the owner, but should include much more.  Adults have personalities that are shaped by experiences and upbringing.  Restaurants have personalities that are created before they are introduced to the public.  The building, décor, and menu should all be selected in a way that helps convey the restaurant’s personality in the minds of your guests.

You can determine the personality of a restaurant that is already in business, by looking at the factors that convey it.  Consider the décor and layout of the restaurant.  What is the energy level of the restaurant?  What type of personality would serve your menu in their home?  Who would select the décor on the walls to decorate their house with?  Picture all of these and any other significant factors in your mind.  Then create a caricature of the person who would select all of things.  Then ask yourself, “What type of music would they listen to?”

Understanding the personality of your restaurant is vital to sending a consistent message to your guests.  Your guests want to feel comfortable that they know what to expect from your restaurant.  Any inconsistencies in your restaurant’s personality will stand out in the guests’ minds.  Your décor, menu, uniforms, marketing, social networking, and even music must all work in unison to allow your guests to feel like they know your restaurant.

Your guests should feel that they would like to be friends with your restaurant if it were a person.  This doesn’t mean that the personality of the restaurant should be the personality of its guests.  Instead, the restaurant should convey a personality that a wide variety of people would hope to be around.  The key is not to be everyone’s best friend, but rather the person they are glad is at the party because they make the evening more enjoyable.  The personalities of successful restaurants are not based on the traits of their guests, but rather emphasize traits that their guests aspire to have.

Restaurant owners and managers need to know the personality of their restaurant.  Knowing the personality of your restaurant will simplify a great number of decisions that you will be forced to make.  It can serve as a paradigm through which all answers can be determined.  What music would your restaurant play if they had friends over for dinner?  The answer to that question will tell you what type of music you need to play at your restaurant.

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About David Hayden

David Hayden is a restaurant marketing and training consultant based in Kansas City, MO. He writes a series of 9 blogs collectively known as The Hospitality Formula Network and is the author of "Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips" and "Building Your Brand With Facebook"

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