One of my hobbies that turned into a small (but strangely growing) work stream is reviewing restaurants, pubs and clubs for a leading London entertainment portal. What on earth does this have to do with professional services marketing you wonder?

Well, the other day as I worked my way through a rather average meal – yet still found great merit in other areas to commend the restaurant – it occurred to me that a restaurant is rather like a professional firm in a number of ways.

Often, lawyers, accountants and surveyors are focused on delivering the very best technical professional advice. A bit like a chef taking enormous pride in taking fresh ingredientsa and using his or her many years of skill and experience – and perhaps some creativity – to prepare the food. Naturally, the meal needs to be good…

However, what makes a customer return to the restaurant time and time again? The convenience of the location and its decor/atmosphere is important. But the quality and continuity of the manager and waiting staff is really critical. How welcome do they make you feel – whether it is the first time you have stepped across their threshold or returning for the 50th time? Do they know about the menu and wine list? Do they generate an instand rapport with all guests? How attentive are they? Do they show a real pride in the place and seem genuinely happy to work there?

The very best food is sometimes found in some awful restaurants. And some restaurants appear to thrive even though the food is distinctly average. Some restaurants survive on strong brands or past glories.

So. Whilst you pat yourself on the back for being a brilliant chef – is the rest of your team doing their bit to ensure that clients are delighted by the myriad of small interactions they encounter each day? And do your loyal clients keep returning for the very best technical advice or because they know and love and can always depend on the great people that surround you?

Just a thought.