Restaurant owners and managers are always looking for creative and different ways to increase restaurant sales.
Your competitors aren’t just other restaurants. Everyone wants a piece of the food and beverage industry. There are supermarkets, convenience stores, and food trucks selling meals, meal-kits, and stuff you haven’t even thought of. You have to think of new strategies and restaurant marketing tips to increase revenue. Here are some ideas to add to your action plan to increase sales in restaurants.
The COVID-19 crisis has affected all restaurants. View the latest on the crisis and how to survive from our featured article: Coronavirus: Increase Restaurant Sales While Dealing With COVID-19.
Here Are 9 Suggestions On How To Increase Restaurant Sales:
1. Make It Easy For Local Customers To Find You
Local customers are the lifeblood of almost every restaurant. They are the most loyal and profitable customers a restaurant can have.
Making it easy for local customers to get information about your restaurant is critical.
The term “discovery” is often used when trying to classify a customer’s first exposure to a restaurant. That’s not a holistic definition of discovery. Discovery can refer to a customer’s quest to find a restaurant new to them, but it also includes finding what’s new at a restaurant they’ve already visited. Restaurant menus and offers constantly change. Getting that information to those looking for it is important.
Local search is often the best way for customers to find information about a restaurant. Moreover, 64% of restaurant searches done with smartphones convert within an hour. Restaurant consumer activity is much more locally driven and far more urgent than any other industry.
By managing your listings on platforms like NetWaiter, search engines, and mapping sites, you immediately make your restaurant’s information more accessible to customers. Getting started is as simple as…
- Adding your restaurant name, address, and phone number
- Uploading high-quality photos of your restaurant and menu items
- Double-checking that your location is displayed correctly on mapping sites
- Writing a brief business description
- Regularly posting messages to keep local customers informed
2. Evaluate Your Online Ordering Strategy
Do you offer takeout or delivery? If so, you should be offering online ordering at your restaurant.
The benefits are clear: online orders are 26% more lucrative than walk-in or call-in orders. Furthermore, one-third of restaurant customers say technology options, such as online ordering, cause them to order takeout and delivery more often. Pay attention to these needs.
Online ordering also increases customer loyalty (in addition to your average order size). Your existing customers become more loyal and order more frequently due to the convenience and control online ordering provides. This reduces the load on employees taking orders over the phone. Additionally, it enables you to increase restaurant sales without hiring more employees or expanding your restaurant to manage the growth.
Online ordering for takeout and delivery is all about LOCAL CUSTOMERS. This is important to recognize, because implementing online ordering technology strengthens your bond with this loyal segment. While delivery has seen a massive surge in attention (and usage), 93% of off-premise operations are still traditional takeout. Delivery isn’t a fad, but this statistic shows that more attention needs to be on your takeout operations.
With regards to supply chain management for multi-unit locations, an automated ordering system can provide you the functionality to automatically confirm orders for designated restaurants, track order statuses in real time, and share the data with recipients. The payoff from using such a system is high and includes decreased order fulfillment costs, better management during peak ordering periods, and the elimination of human errors related to manual data entry (e.g., missed or misplaced orders). This helps guarantee locations do not run out of key supplies, which would otherwise impact sales.
A note about investing in technology:
Restaurants should set aside money for investments in tech when determining their business plan and marketing budget.
The online technology you invest in should center around putting your restaurant’s brand in front of the customer. According to a survey by the National Restaurant Association, one in four guests use technology when deciding where to eat. Over 32% of 18–34-year-olds say it factors into their choice when deciding on a quick-service restaurant. Additionally, 28% say it helps them make their full-service restaurant choices.
Technologies like online ordering, digital menus, loyalty programs, and other apps connect you with your customers in ways that are helpful to them – and you. These types of investments should be prioritized over any other forms of marketing to ensure you are giving your customers the best overall experience.
3. Put Attention On Mobile
One of the most influential customer demographics for restaurants today are millennials – the group of people born after 1985. And, guess where they are looking for the information on where to eat? Their phones.
Millennials sleep with their mobile phone within arm’s reach. More than 50% of millennials make their buying decision in the six-hour window before they eat. 29% of that group admitting that the window is closer to one-hour. 70% of millennials don’t even plan that far in advance. Millennials also like businesses that communicate with technologies they prefer – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Getting your message to customers, when they are in decision mode, is important. Since most customers live and die by their smartphone, that’s where you need to be. One option is to activate your NetWaiter site and use NetWaiter’s free marketing platform to enhance your restaurant’s mobile marketing efforts and attract more local customers.
4. More On Millennials
Studies show that millennials are loyal – so much so – they don’t care as much about loyalty programs as other groups.
Millennials care about an easy and friction-less experience. Remember, this group does not remember a time before Amazon.com. Millennials think the whole world works like Amazon, or at least it should. You need to keep that in mind.
Ensure all aspects of ordering from your restaurant are easy. This is especially needed for millennials, because their buying power is huge and their continued loyalty can significantly increase restaurant sales.
5. Communicate With Employees
All managers want to get more from restaurant employees. This process starts by understanding that increasing restaurant sales involves everyone.
Hold regular meetings and let your employees in on your plans. With a little knowledge, they are more apt to give you their best performance.
Some of your more astute employees will know when sales are soft. Others will not. Be transparent about your bottom line. Remember, the performance of your staff reflects on your restaurant. A great staff can make a great restaurant, a poor staff will put you out of business. It all starts with leadership.
6. Get First-Time Customers To Come Back
A Harvard study of the restaurant industry revealed that if you can increase the number of repeat customers by 5%, you can increase your profits by 25% to 125%.
Here are some tips for making a good impression on first-time customers:
1) Train your staff to seek out those first-timers. Ask them how they found out about you, and pull out the stops when it comes to service.
2) Make sure their order is PERFECT. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Greet them with a smile and confirm everything in their order is correct. If it’s a delivery order, double-check their bag before the delivery driver leaves.
3) Once you identify a first-time customer, consider giving them an incentive (like a promo) on their next order. Getting them to come back a second time is critical to getting them hooked!
7. Increase Restaurant Sales With Social Media
A survey of more than 1,200 consumers revealed where they like to dine or order takeout/delivery.
1) 83% said restaurants that treat employees well is important. Highlight your employee-of-the-month on social media. Did someone get a promotion, graduate from college, or do something great for a customer? Talk it up.
2) 73% indicated that support of their local community influences them. When you support a local event or sports team, take some photos and post them online. It makes a difference.
3) When talking about your menu, descriptions people like to read include: “fresh”, “locally-sourced”, “whole grain”, and anything “all-natural”. Those keywords are great for getting folks in the door or ordering online.
Focus on photography:
Post Photos From Your Restaurant – Then Post Some More
One of the best, quickest and easiest way to promote your restaurant is with high-quality food photos. Most restaurants already have their social media profiles set up on channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If your profiles aren’t set up, now is the time to do it. Create a plan that will encourage customers to visit your restaurant by posting visually and aesthetically-pleasing photos.
Modern Restaurant Management has a great list of ideas to consider when posting:
- Mouth-watering shots of your menu items
- Photos of your restaurant location’s interiors, facilities, and kitchen
- Photos of your chef and kitchen and wait staff
- Q&A interview with your chef
- Video tour of your restaurant
- A behind-the-scenes video of what goes on in your kitchen
Try sticking to concepts that fit your brand and commit to owning the process. The end goal is to drive customers – new and old – to your restaurant with your photos and unique content.
8. Stay On Top Of Technology
Research from the National Restaurant Association indicates that technology, including online ordering, plays a large role in how restaurants attract more customers. You need to include technology in your strategy to increase restaurant sales. Consider the following:
- 36% of customers say they are more likely to use technology options in restaurants than they were two years ago.
- 8 in 10 consumers agree that it enhances convenience.
- 7 in 10 say it speeds up service and increases order accuracy.
- One third say that technology options compel them to choose one restaurant over another.
- About one-third also say that it compels them to order takeout and delivery more often.
The Bottom Line: We’re in a digital world and customers are attached to their devices. Therefore, using technology is essential to attract and retain customers for your restaurant.
9. Increase Prices (Slightly)
Increasing menu prices is a logical way to increase restaurant sales – if done right.
If you hold off on price increases until you absolutely have to, then one of two things happens. 1) Either you won’t be able to raise prices enough to keep up with costs, or 2) you will raise prices too much and drive customers away. It’s best to slowly increase prices on a regular basis to keep up with rising costs. Doing it this way won’t create sticker shock for customers if prices increase too much at once.
Another technique is to raise prices on parts of your menu, rather than across the board.
The goal is to increase pricing in a way that allows you to maintain operations, while minimizing friction for customers. If you follow a sound strategy to raise prices, any customers you lose will be offset by the customers you retain and who spend more.
These are just a few ways to increase revenue at your restaurant.
The real key is to keep an eye on the profit needle. Technology can often help, with restaurant POS systems assisting owners and operators do exactly that. But, also, when you see an uptick in sales – analyze why. What worked and can you double-down on it? Don’t look for just one thing to increase sales at your restaurant. Keep an eye on all aspects that help you generate revenue and you’ll start to see growth.
Activate Your NetWaiter Site
If you want to attract more local customers and keep them informed about your restaurant, check out NetWaiter’s platform and network. You can search for, and activate, your NetWaiter site and app here: