Operating a restaurant is difficult at the very best of times. The restaurant industry is notoriously tough to break into and enjoy sustained success within. Ever-changing economic circumstances add an element of turbulence that can make things even more difficult to navigate.
Whether your business is riding a high or going through a downturn, implementing new strategies for increasing restaurant sales is always a great idea. While many restaurant owners are motivated by their passion for the industry and their venue, ultimately profits are essential for any business.
We've assembled 10 of the best tactics any restaurant owner can use to boost sales. These steps are the perfect starting point on the path to increased profitability.
1. Create dishes with high profit margins
We don't need to tell you how difficult food costs are to navigate. If you aren't focussing on using profitable ingredients in your menu, you'll quickly find your costs ballooning unsustainably.
Think about how you can use affordable ingredients to create dishes for which customers will be willing to bust open their wallets. Some dishes which are known in the hospitality industry to offer high profit margins include:
- Fries, especially loaded fries
Work with your chefs to turn these dishes into something that customers will be willing to spend more money on. This will enable you to improve the output of your restaurant while also enjoying a boost in profits.
2.Optimise your menu design
It is impossible to overstate how crucial your menu is for your restaurant. The time a customer spends looking at your menu and deciding what to order determines how profitable their visit will be.
Here are a few steps you can take to direct customer behaviour in the most advantageous directions:
- Place high-margin items in the top-right corner. Research suggests that this is where customers' eyes are primarily drawn when reading a menu.
- Highlight your newly-minted most profitable dishes with colours, images, a border or any other way you fancy.
- Get creative with your food descriptions. Let your inner author shine and fill your menu with brilliant copy that will have your customers' mouths watering and wallets opening.
3. Focus on marketing strategies
Now that you have crafted the perfect menu to maximise profits, it is time to get more customers in the building. This is where you enter the wonderful world of marketing.
If you are looking to increase sales as a result of difficult financial circumstances, you probably are not interested in hiring a marketing agency. However, there are plenty of steps you can take in-house to get the word out about your business.
- Create social media profiles: Social media is a low-cost way to boost the visibility of your restaurant. You can post very similar content to platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and enjoy extra eyeballs from all 3.
- Search engine optimisation: It's estimated that Google processes around 8 billion queries a day. Having a website that is optimised for Google Search can be hugely significant when it comes to reaching your target audience and discovering new customer segments.
- Google My Business: One of the most important elements of SEO for restaurants is Google My Business. A well-optimised GMB profile helps translate search appearances on Google and Google Maps into sales for your business.
- Events: When events like Halloween and New Year's Eve come around, people are excited to celebrate. If appropriate for your venue, capitalise on these events with decorations or live entertainment. And if there is nothing coming up on the calendar, why not make this Friday "Back to the 90s" night?
4. Upsell, upsell, upsell
Upselling is a major source of revenue for any business. Conduct training on upselling principles so that your staff can tactfully but consistently increase your profit-per-head.
Ensure that your staff have tasted your menu so that they can give genuine advice and insight. You should see upselling not as a pushy sales tactic, but as an opportunity to improve a customer's dining experience and financial outcomes for your restaurant.
Wine pairings and desserts are 2 of the most organic ways to upsell in a restaurant, so make them a focus area if they aren’t already. Taste tests are also a great way to help convince the customer that the target of the upsell will add to their dining experience.
Once your staff are experienced in the art of the upsell, you will find it very useful when it comes to boosting restaurant sales.
Discover tips you can apply throughout your venue to achieve greater sales and productivity by downloading our sales and productivity guide.
5. Loyalty programs
Repeat business is critical for any restaurant. While the best way to encourage customers to return is to deliver a brilliant experience each and every time, loyalty programs are a close second.
One method of encouraging repeat business is to utilise Dish Cult Rewards. This loyalty program offers points to users who use Dish Cult to book and dine at specific restaurants, incentivising existing customers to come back to your venue again and again.
Some other ideas for loyalty programs to implement in your restaurant are:
- Tiered loyalty programs: A tiered loyalty program encourages repeat customers to visit even more frequently so they can ascend higher within the program, getting better rewards.
- Special occasion celebrations: Offering customers special discounts for days such as their birthday ensures that they will visit their venue for these events. It also helps foster a special sense of connection between them and your restaurant.
- Punch cards: One of the simplest loyalty programs is also one of the most effective. Where else would a customer go for their morning coffee when they are working their way to a free tenth cup at your venue?
6. Bolster customer service
Your restaurant is not simply a place for customers to refuel their bodies with food and drink. It's also a chance for valuable social interactions.
This is why good customer service is so critical for restaurant success. 68% of customers are willing to pay more for goods and services from a brand known to offer good customer service.
Check out our complete guide on how to greet customers in your restaurant. It is important that your venue delivers a positive first impression to all customers.
Ensure your staff are well-trained in attending to the needs of customers at all times. Observe floor operations to ensure customers are being treated with the necessary care. You can also solicit customer feedback and find out where your team has room for improvement.
7. Expand your range of offerings
Any successful business must be agile and innovative. If your menu is not enough to carry a sufficient revenue stream for your restaurant, it is time to consider other avenues for income.
Gift cards can be a game-changer for any business. We are often stuck when coming up with ideas for Christmas and birthday gifts. Your most loyal customers might just jump at the chance to give a voucher to their favourite restaurant, helping to attract customers to your venue.
You might also consider selling some of your products in a take-home grocery style. If your customers are always raving about that incredible homemade jam or irresistible hollandaise sauce, they'll probably be very keen to take a whole jar home with them.
You could even offer branded merchandise like T-shirts, mugs or tote bags, or a cookbook of your favourite menu items. Opening up new revenue streams for your restaurant might completely change the outlook of your business.
8. Transition to a prix fixe menu
Prix fixe refers to a 2-3 course menu in which customers choose from a few options and pay a fixed price. A prix fixe menu allows you to offer a holistic dining experience for your customers while also making some extra cash for your business.
A prix fixe menu means you know exactly how much money each table will spend every night. It also helpfully streamlines kitchen operations, allowing you to efficiently serve a greater number of customers.
If you are hesitant to completely overhaul your menu, consider adding a small prix fixe section and seeing if your customers take to it. If it is a hit, expand accordingly.
9. Maximise floor space
Chances are you are not taking all the possible steps to jam-pack as many seats as you can into your venue. This is one of the simplest ways you can increase sales in your restaurant.
Check out our eBook complete with 20 floor plan ideas and layouts you can use to ensure you are optimising the space available in your venue.
Rent is a major expense for your venue, so it is crucially important for your financial success to make the very best of your floor space.
10. Implement online ordering
Technology is moving faster than ever, and you need to be prepared to adapt to the times. If online ordering is not part of your business model, now is the perfect time to implement it.
Your customers have their smartphones with them at all times, so having their favourite dishes available for online ordering is likely to boost restaurant sales for your business.
This could prove to be a massively profitable inclusion into your business structure as you appeal to your customer's desire for convenience. Including your restaurant on popular food delivery apps can also help to attract new customers as they scroll through their selections and come across your venue.
Increase restaurant sales with ResDiary
There is no quick fix when you need to increase restaurant sales. You need to re-evaluate many of the functions of your business to ensure you are able to capitalise on all available opportunities for more sales.
ResDiary offers extensive table management functionality which makes booking management a breeze while expanding the ways you can accept reservations. Our EPOS integrations allow for easy and secure payments.
We even have integrations to help manage events and promotions, helping to bring potential customers into your venue. Book a free demo today and find out how ResDiary can help your business reach new levels of success.