Whether you’ve started a new restaurant, manage a bustling franchise, or own a popular food truck, it’s important to know what your customers think about your food, your service, and your establishment in general. You can get a lot of insight by conducting periodic surveys that ask about everything from customer satisfaction to menu ideas. In this article, we look at the benefits of conducting food surveys and explore the types of food survey questions you should consider including.
The benefits of conducting food surveys
While it can take some time and effort to create and administer a food survey, it’s well worth doing. Whether you’re a restaurant owner or manager, a food survey can deliver crucial insights to help you understand which aspects of your business you need to improve and which your customers love.
A food survey can help you learn which menu items customers crave, which menu items customers won’t ever order again, and whether customers have any ideas about new menu items. A food survey can also help you evaluate your customer service and how your patrons perceive it.
The information you gather from a food survey can also be useful when you’re considering how to take the restaurant forward. Instead of acting on gut instinct alone, you can take an evidence-based approach and make changes based on data, which should increase your chances of success.
For example, if you wanted to add more smoothie options to the menu, you could ask customers about their favorite flavors. Adding the most popular options will help ensure you make the most profitable choice.
Common food survey questions
While many food survey questions are about the food itself, you may also want to ask about other aspects of your business, such as customer satisfaction and customer loyalty, which are often greatly affected by the food. Keep in mind, there are different ways to ask questions about the same topic. “In general, it makes more sense to ask if you have met their expectations versus did we get it right or wrong,” says Allen Bixby, chef and author.
Here are some common categories of questions your food survey might cover.
Food quality questions
Put simply, you need to know how well customers like your food. While some establishments gather this information via conversations with a floor manager, not everyone answers honestly in person. Some people are reluctant to deliver specific or negative feedback in this way, and a food survey gives them an opportunity to freely share their feelings about the food.
“Time and taste are the two biggest factors for most guests,” says Bixby. “Did your food get to you in the time frame you expected? Did your food taste as you had hoped? Use those types of questions if you are looking at offering binary, yes or no, choices.
“Or, you could go with the usual tweak: How much do you agree with this statement: ‘My food arrived in the time frame I expected’?” he adds.
Here are some specific food quality questions to include:
- How would you rate the quality of your meal today?
- What was the best part of your meal?
- Is there anything you would change about this dish?
- Was the food served at the right temperature?
- How would you rate the freshness of the ingredients?
Service quality questions
No matter how good the food, if the service is sub par, customers may not want to come back. The restaurant’s management may also not be aware of the quality of customer service if they aren’t on the floor at all times. Asking customers how they felt about the service is a good way to keep a finger on the pulse of service quality.
“When we would do secret shops at full-service restaurants, it was about how long to greet, to seat, get greeted by the server, place an order, receive the order, and receive server follow up — all these metrics guests seem to only become aware of when they take too long,” notes Bixby.
Here are some service quality questions to consider:
- Who was your server today?
- How long did you have to wait to be seated?
- How quickly were you served your meal today?
- Did your server exceed your expectations?
- How would you describe the customer service at this location?
Menu satisfaction questions
The best restaurants work hard to give guests a variety of appealing options that meet their expectations. To ensure you’re continuously doing that, it’s important to check in occasionally to see how customers feel about the menu as a whole. This is a good way to determine if anything on the menu needs to change or if it’s working well for the majority of customers.
Here are some useful menu satisfaction questions to include:
- Did you find what you were looking for on the menu today?
- Was there something on the menu for everyone in your party?
- What is your favorite item on the menu?
- What is your least favorite item on the menu?
- Do you often need to make substitutions to menu items?
Menu idea questions
Chefs and restaurateurs spend a considerable amount of time crafting menus. However, sometimes, customers may be able to provide a different and valuable perspective on what a restaurant should offer. Asking customers what menu items they want to see is a great way to get ideas for new additions on the menu.
Here are some menu idea questions to consider:
- What is currently missing from our menu?
- If you could add one item to our menu, what would it be?
- What is one side dish you would like to see on our menu?
- Do you have any suggestions for new drinks to add to our menu?
- Would you increase or decrease the portion sizes for our main dishes?
Customer satisfaction questions
Unlike food or service questions, which are specific to certain aspects of the restaurant, customer satisfaction relates to a customer’s entire experience. If even one aspect during their visit goes wrong, it could affect their entire view of your establishment.
“The environment is so important,” says Bixby. “In fine dining, we lined up all the tables and chairs in the room, silver, linen, glassware, all ‘just so.’ Why? People perceive disarray subconsciously and very quickly, which can affect their view of the whole experience.
“A clean and orderly facility, no bad smells, and clean restrooms — these are what folks will base their first and ongoing opinion of the business on,” he adds.
Here are some customer satisfaction questions to include:
- How would you rate your experience at our restaurant today?
- How would you rate the cleanliness of the restaurant?
- How can we exceed your expectations at our restaurant?
- If there is one thing you would change about your experience today, what would it be?
- Was your meal exactly as you expected it to be?
Closely related to the food is the operational aspect of the restaurant, which includes things such as location, delivery processes, takeout menus, and more. These factors can not only affect how customers receive the food, but also how they perceive the food. For example, if a customer has to wait two hours for a food delivery, chances are good they won’t be ordering from your restaurant again.
Here are some operational questions to consider:
- How far did you travel to eat at our restaurant today?
- How many times a month do you order takeout from our restaurant?
- How much are you willing to pay for delivery?
- What is an appropriate amount of time to wait to be seated at a restaurant?
- Are you willing to pay extra for expedited delivery of your order?
Becoming your customers’ “go-to” establishment for a certain type of food or experience can do wonders for your profitability. To find out if you’ve reached that status — or what you can do to get there — ask loyalty-related questions.
Here are some loyalty food survey questions to include:
- How many times do you eat at our restaurant in a month?
- How likely are you to refer our restaurant to your friends and family?
- How many items have you tried from our menu?
- Would you buy a gift card from our restaurant to give to friends and family?
Jotform for food surveys and beyond
No matter what types of food survey questions you want to ask your customers, you can do it with Jotform. With tons of food survey templates, Jotform makes the process of getting customer insights easier. Each template is fully customizable down to the text and visuals, or you can create your own food survey from scratch with the drag-and-drop form builder.
Plus, with Jotform, you can email surveys to your customers or simply present them to be filled out at the end of the meal using a tablet. In no time, you’ll know what next steps to take to make your restaurant a success.
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