Nataka chakula” (i'd like food): critical success factors in attracting and retaining customers in Kenyan restaurants
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The restaurant industry has developed and expanded to gain a global presence in the last fifty years largely fuelled by the change of lifestyles. Urban populations have grown throughout the world, mobility of people has increased and people spend a lot of time commuting to and from work (Schlosser , 2001). This has been compounded by the increased presence of women in the workplace which has resulted in less time available for them to prepare meals at home(Jekanowski, Binkley & Eales, 2001). These busier consumer lifestyles and dual-working families have led to solutions being sought in using ready made meals (Atkins and Bowler , 2001).For a long time, growth and expansion in the restaurant industry has been associated particularly with the fast food concept (Lashley & Morrison, 2004; Sen 1998). Viewed from the customers' perspective, Anderson and Fornell (2000) assume that businesses exist and compete to satisfy the customers. They suggest that it is not possible to grow a business without at the same time increasing customer satisfaction. A satisfied customer will become a repeat customer and this could in turn grow a business. Following this general business imperative therefore it means that a satisfied customer will have a critical effect on the long-term success of restaurant business. A satisfied restaurant customer will remain loyal to an outlet or restaurant business and continued patronage can follow a global pattern. On the other hand a dissatisfied customer of restaurant will not only avoid the entire franchise or chain outlets but may also make bad publicity and persuade many people to go elsewhere (Gilbert et al, 2004). This presents an eating establishment (such as a restaurant) with a challenge. They need to satisfy customers to gain repeat business, but what do they need to do? Where should a restaurant focus their energies and attention if they are to not only attract new customers but also to keep existing customers satisfied? The focus of attention is on what are regarded as the Critical Success Factors (CSFs), but there is little published research on CSFs in the restaurant industry in Africa, a gap this study aims to fill. The paper will investigate the nature of CSFs specifically in the restaurant (food) sector and then discuss the study that has been carried out. The paper will conclude with the discussion and implications of the research for the Kenyan restaurant market.