the lime tree

word of mouth is important, nurturing the relationships that are the source of word of mouth is essential

We return to Alt-An Lodge, freshened up and then Trevor volunteers to drop us off at a restaurant that has been recommended by Margaret.  The Lime Tree is part boutique hotel, part art gallery and part restaurant. It is owned and run by Newcastle born David Wilson. David finds Fort William, the natural place for an artist, keen mountaineer, and mountain bike rider.  The Lime Tree Restaurant has built a fine reputation for quality dining characterized by the finest local ingredients and quality service.
Our meal was very nice and the service of a fine standard with the wait staff being friendly, attentive, and polite. After analyzing 100 Social media reviews the majority confirmed our expectations – it was a great dining experience. Nevertheless, social media suggests that two common challenges facing service organisation pop up every now and then – managing the inseparability of staff and customers and managing the variability of staff. Every once in a while, it appears as if some staff member forgot that a restaurant is like theatre and therefore they are like the actors on a set and their performance, frontstage and backstage, will be reviewed by their audience [customers]. There are also a number of customers who question whether the meals were value for money – perhaps every once in a while the Lime Tree attracts someone outside their target market – who would be better with a hearty pub meal. Also, after delving deeper into the reviews of some disappointed customers it appears as if some customers had extremely high expectations, were just hard to please, or only posted reviews when their expectations were not met.

We were chatting with a group of ladies, who were all nursing sore feet after a week’s walk on the West Highland Way, they all enjoyed their meal, wine and telling stories. They also found out about the Lime Tree from the people at their B&B. I am sure that David does the PR thing well – he is that kind of person.

However, I am often amazed when business owners, especially in a reasonably small town such as Fort William, don’t ask how did you find out about us?

It is one thing to have a great restaurant, it is another to get the right people to know your product and to recommend you, and it is another for people to recommend you long-term.  It is important that marketing practitioners put in place strategies to identify the people who recommend a business and reward the people who drive customers to a business.

Perhaps, in a place like Fort William an event could be held at the start of a ‘summer season’ to ensure that the right people, the owners of B&Bs, are rewarded and remain advocates for the business.

This is the difference between a salespipeline and a salesdrain.



  • What strategies could an organisation such as a restaurant in a tourist town undertake to ensure that the other small business owners [e.g., B&B owners] are shown appreciation for their efforts.
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