How to increase restaurant sales: 15 smart ideas

It is easy to lose sleep over the bottom line of your restaurant business. It’s not easy to cut food costs and labour costs while maintaining profitable margins. However, there are certain strategic steps that you can take to increase sales at your restaurant business and grow a restaurant business.

So, how can you increase profit margins at your restaurant? To help get your creative juices flowing, here are 15 tips to improve sales at your restaurant and enjoy better returns in your hospitality business.

1. Restaurant menu improvement

Are you putting together a jumble of appetizers, mains, and desserts on your menu? If so, it may be time for a rethink. If your menu items aren’t performing as they once were, it doesn’t matter how delicious they are.

The solution could be as simple as the renaming of a classic item on your menu. Or placing your highest margin items at the top of the first page of your menu in a location where customers will see them as soon as they start perusing your menu and will be more likely to order those dishes.

You might also consider routinely changing the items on your menu every two years to keep your menu fresh and engaging. Customers love hearing about and trying new menu items.

2. Put on themed events

There are many types of special events your restaurant can host without putting a strain on your profits or stressing out your staff. Whether it’s a father-daughter night, a wine and cheese tasting, or a reverse dinner where you start with dessert and progress through mains, and finish with entrees.

You may also explore ways to maximise your space when business is slow or when your business in closed. You may host various creative events at your restaurant venue to bring in new clients and guests. For example, to promote your restaurant reach out to local artists, yoga studios, florists, and other community groups who may be looking for venues for their events.

You may be surprised to learn just how many club or community events are held in your area from week to week. Look for opportunities to form win-win partnerships with these organisations that can help boost your restaurant sales.

3. Have a presence on social media

When marketing for a restaurant, social media can be an effective way to engage   with potential customers, who are likely to be active on social media. This means that you should be active on social media too. Restaurants that have a strong and consistent social media presence are likely to outperform their competitors who aren’t on social media due to the awareness and engagement that social media can provide. As such, it can be crucial for your restaurant business to actively engage with potential customers on social media.

Consider setting up a Facebook company page, an Instagram profile, and a Twitter account. These are great places for sharing your daily specials or foodie photos that make customers lick their lips in anticipation of visiting your restaurant. Once you are a social media butterfly, you can make social media management more efficient by using one of many social media management tools available to business owners.

4. Sell branded products to customers

Are you a coffee shop owner who sells house-roasted beans? You can package them and sell them at retail prices to your customers to use in their own kitchens. In you run a microbrewery you can offer your microbrewery’s unique brews for sale to customers to enjoy at home.

A branded product, which is a product you are well-known for, can be a great way to generate a secondary revenue stream to increase your restaurant sales. If you have invested in your branding and design and it is getting recognised in the community, you may also consider printing T-shirts with your restaurants logo on them.

5. Increase your speed of service

It is well-known that the more tables you can turn per hour, the more sales you will make and the more profit your business will receive. Give your staff the tools to improve their working efficiency and their speed of service. For example, a mobile point of sale (POS) system will enable your wait staff to send orders directly to the kitchen from the POS. They don’t need to rush to a stationary terminal that is jammed with other servers.

6. Partner with top food delivery services

Convenience is the new king in today’s mobile-driven world, and a great way to increase food delivery sales and to boost café sales is to partner with food delivery companies such as DoorDash, Menulog, or Uber Eats. This can help to streamline your ordering process, increase awareness of your restaurant business, and attract and delight new customers while satisfying your customers.

7. Embrace the power of upselling

Master the art of upselling and train your wait staff to become experts in upselling. Coach them on upselling techniques, for example, upselling bottled water to a premium branded product such as Perrier natural bottled mineral water. Another example is suggesting that customers add grilled chicken breast to their caesar salad?

Such upselling techniques can be very effective when it comes to increasing the average spend per customer at your restaurant. If you stress this with your wait staff, you will likely soon see a healthy increase in restaurant sales.

8. Organise a workshop

Are you the best pizza place in town? Maybe you are renowned for your gourmet burgers, or perhaps customers rave about your amazing cocktails. Whatever your specialty is, consider hosting a workshop around it – either online or in person – to showcase your expertise, your signature dishes, and your passion for great food.

You can engage your customers by extending your restaurant experience into hands-on participation by organising workshops. This can be a great way for restaurants to increase sales without spending advertising dollars.

9. Explore new marketing strategies

Email marketing can be an effective way to reach and engage potential clients. While you’re at it, you may also try text marketing. It makes perfect sense, given the high open rates for text messages.

To get customers to sign up for your email communications, create an offer such as ‘join our email list and get free dessert when you next visit us’, then send weekly specials to your growing subscriber list, enticing them to visit your restaurant. These types of deals can be a hit with customers and can also increase revenue for your restaurant via repeat business.

10. Consider private dining

Private dining can be a great option if themed events don’t really appeal to you or the type of food establishment you run. Perhaps you have a large banquet room that could be used more effectively. Anyone planning a small private party may be looking for a small semi-private space that is closed off with curtains for private dining. Private dining services can be especially handy when normal business slows.

11. Start an e-newsletter for restaurants

Recurring restaurant e-newsletters can be very effective for marketing a restaurant business. When done right, an e-newsletter can provide a sizeable return on investment for restaurant business owners. As such, they can be an effective way to increase your restaurant sales. In terms of effectiveness, e-newsletters may be just as effective as social media marketing. You also have more control with an e-newsletter.

12. Host pop-up experiences

Pop-up bars, restaurants, and other venues are on the rise. These limited-time experiences can often be huge crowd pleasers. There are many ways you can make pop-up experiences work for your restaurant business, depending on your bandwidth.

Margarita Mondays could be a regular event for your restaurant, with special cocktails and a menu featuring a slew of tasty tropical drinks. You may also partner with an emerging chef, a touring chef, or a celebrity chef and have your restaurant space open to them for a period.

13. Ensure that all your details can be found in one convenient place

Restaurant sales can suffer when contact details and opening times are lost, hard to find, or unclear. It’s important to be organised, especially if you manage an events program for your restaurant.

To keep on top of things at your restaurant, log as much information into your event notes as possible. This will give you a clear paper trail that outlines expectations for everyone involved.

14. Participate in hospitality festivals in your city

Participating in annual restaurant and hospitality events and festivals in your area can be a great way to promote a restaurant to a larger audience – and potentially an audience that may not be familiar with your restaurant.

Hospitality events offer a unique opportunity to showcase your signature dishes and to try new recipes. These events can be used to promote your private event offerings as well. You can include details about your private event services and offer special deals to anyone who makes a booking with your restaurant during the event.

15. Create a loyalty program

You want to encourage your happy customers to return to your restaurant, right? So consider incentivising them to do just that. There are many ways to incentivise customers to keep coming back to your restaurant. The type and size of incentive you offer will depend on your personal preferences, your budget, the type of restaurant you operate, and your personal preferences.

For casual eateries, you may choose to use coupons or punch cards. Higher-end restaurants may use email, app-driven programs, or swipe cards. Whatever option you choose, the most important thing is to make the process easy for customers so they feel encouraged to use your loyalty program.

To increase your sales the above revenue drivers for a restaurant can help improve sales in the off season, in the peak season, and all year round.

How BizCover can help reduce the risks to your restaurant business

At BizCover we make it easier than ever for restaurant business owners to reduce their risk with business insurance that specifically addresses the risks facing business owners in the hospitality industry.

Learn about hospitality insurance, also known as restaurant insurance or insurance for restaurants and cafes, to learn more about how hospitality insurance can help reduce the risks to your restaurant business. Compare competitive hospitality insurance quotes from Australia’s leading insurers online, get covered fast, skip the paperwork, and get on with your day.

This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording.
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