A new generation of innovation has been spawned – and people are looking for new and different ways to sell meals to consumers. Your competitors are no longer just other restaurants. Now you have supermarkets and convenience stores selling meals, meal-kit services, food trucks, and stuff we haven’t even thought of.
You have to think of new ways to increase revenue in your restaurant. Here are a few suggestions.
- Emphasize Upselling.
What’s your average ticket amount? Concentrate on raising it 5-10% through upselling. An extra dessert here, and appetizer there, it all makes a difference. Remind your staff that they are in the sales business. Getting a customer to add fries to an order, or ordering a more expensive appetizer, shows at the end of the night when you add up the tickets. Identify your top-performing salespeople and have them mentor other members of the wait staff. Sometimes the smallest thing boosts a sale.
2. Spruce Up Your Mobile Image.
One of the most influential customer demographics that are important to restaurants today are the millennials – the group of people born after 1985 that came of age during the millennium. These are people that 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, with 29% of that group admitting that the window is closer to one-hour. Seventeen percent of millennials don’t even plan that far in advance. And guess where they are looking for the information on where to eat? Their phones. Getting your message to them when they are in decision mode is important. Since they live and die by their smartphone, that’s where you need to be. Millennials also like businesses that communicate with technologies they prefer – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
3. More about Millennials.
Studies show that millennials are loyal. So much that they don’t care as much about loyalty programs. What is more important to them is a frictionless experience. Remember, this group does not remember a time when there was no Amazon.com. Millennials think the whole world works like Amazon, or at least it should. You need to keep that in mind.
4. Get Those 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 (a good online system such as NetWaiter lets you know when you have a first-time customer). 3) Once you identify that first-time customer, give them a coupon for a discount on their next order (getting them to come back a second time is critical to getting them hooked).
5. Influencer marketing.
By tapping into local celebrities with large blogs and/or social media followings (“influencers”), restaurants can promote their business via this modern word of mouth marketing. Reach out to the top food bloggers in your city via email or social media and invite them in for a special menu item (on the house). Let them know you’re interested in being featured on their blog or social sites if they enjoy everything. Have the owner or chef take care of them and explain the meal thoroughly, then send them on their way — hopefully your food is up-to-par and you get a positive review to their thousands of local fans.
6. Special events.
There are plenty of “special events” you can put on without breaking the bank or confusing your staff. These could be “Daddy / Daughter Nights” where dads bring in daughters for a special night, and the staff has someone that dresses as a Disney princess (offer a special dinner deal, too). You could also just celebrate your annual anniversary and make this a big deal. Then there are the “Wine Down Wednesday” deals with half-price wine, Taco Tuesday and other similar specials — all of these can bring in incremental revenue if strategically structured (financially) and promoted well.
7. Give back nights.
Host events where you give back 10 percent of profits (or just profits from people that mention the event) for local charities, events, schools, etc. When doing this, alert the local media to get more coverage and exposure — nothing wrong with letting everyone know about the good things you’re doing.
That’s a lot of marketing tactics to wrap your head around, don’t try to do them all next week. You know your clientele better than I do, so choose two to three of those ideas that make sense, test and track them one at a time, and document the systems accordingly. If you do this right, you’ll end up with a “marketing handbook” to work from moving forward or hand-off to managers or franchisees.
8. Offer Customers Different Ways to Buy
Many prospective customers may not have time to wait for a table or to even sit down for dinner at all. This is where devising different ways that guests can order your food can be a big help in their hectic lives and make more profits for you. A few techniques include:
- Add a separate take-out menu to your restaurant. By adding a take-out menu to your restaurant, you can continually make sales even if your dining room is filled to capacity.
- Implement delivery services. If reliable delivery is feasible for your business, you’ll give customers the convenience of not having to leave their homes to enjoy your food.
- Offer meals at different times of the day. If you operate a lunch establishment but notice a lot of foot traffic outside of your business during the morning rush hour, then consider selling quick breakfast items.
- Keep up with technology. From ordering online to reserving a table via an app, customers like to see that their favorite restaurants are advancing with technology. Filling out an online form is often easier than making a phone call for some customers, and many people may prefer to dine somewhere that offers online services such as these.
9. Have a Restaurant App Developed
A smartphone application is as important for your promoting restaurant as social media marketing, or maybe even more. If there is a particular type of business that can make a difference with a mobile app, it has to be a restaurant. The first reason to have your restaurant application is location based deals.
With an application installed on people’s phones, you can send them to push notifications as soon as they come in a proximity of your restaurant. Furthermore, an application serves as a great platform for rewarding your customers and running loyalty programs. People can place orders using your application, and this will reduce the burden on your phone lines. Last but not least, Millennials love using applications for just about anything.
10. Offer Catering, Parties, and More
Another way that you can increase your restaurant sales is to offer catering. You could make the food at your restaurant and then have the customers pick it up, or you could provide full catering services. In addition, you might want to host parties, events, and the like at your restaurant. If you have a separate room that could be used for these events, even better. Offering these services is a good way to increase your business, as you can host all different types of functions including birthday parties, anniversaries, office parties, meetings, and more.
Offer New and Exciting Dishes and Drinks and Promote Them
By adding some new and interesting items to the menu occasionally, it can help to breathe some life into your business when things seem like they are stagnating. While the old tried and true items on the menu might never leave, that does not mean you can’t be creative. In fact, you should be creative and start to add new items, including food and drinks. You might want to have holiday specials or seasonal dishes that you can promote, as well. With some great descriptions and photos, and the right marketing push, it can help to bring more customers into your restaurant.
I’m consistently surprised and shocked how many restaurant owners don’t have a marketing plan, let alone a digital marketing plan. Social media and the other strategies discussed here are all very real ways to get results and increase sales. Unfortunately, if you are failing to plan, you’re really just planning to fail.
If all of this seems a little overwhelming, let us know, we’re here to help. We’ll work through a strategy for you in a complimentary 45-minute strategy session. You’ll come out of it knowing exactly what you need to do, to grow your sales in your restaurant.