Who couldn’t use a little extra cash? In the restaurant industry, where profit margins are always in flux, savvy owners are always looking for ways to drive restaurant sales and add some padding to their revenue. Smart owners approach their sales goals from two fronts, looking at ways to reduce internal operational costs and different methods to increase restaurant sales with new service initiatives, marketing, and promotions.
This may sound complicated, but it really doesn’t have to be. In fact, there are many easy ways to boost sales without a huge investment on your part. Let’s take a look at some of the most effective tools you can leverage to increase restaurant sales and add a little cushion to those bottom lines.
Streamline the Ordering Process
Bad handwriting and rushed ordering account for a great deal of error in restaurants. In your business, mistakes equal waste and, in turn, higher food costs and lower earnings. In fact, by some estimates, as much as 10 percent of the food you buy may be destined for landfills, all because someone misread “grilled cheese” as “grilled chicken.”
This is exactly why so many restaurants have turned to technology. An easy-to-use Point of Sale (POS) system, along with properly trained staff, can reduce the number of errors and meals that go to waste. Tableside ordering and other advanced features improve the effectiveness of your ordering process, allowing you to turn more tables in an afternoon. Those factors should definitely have an impact on sales!
Plan Your Menu Carefully
Food costs are the bane of the restaurant industry. Luckily, they’re pretty easy to conquer when you choose dishes with low-cost, quality ingredients: a braised pork shoulder instead of tenderloin, for instance, or an affordable California pinot instead of the expensive Italian wine. Use your ingredients smarter across several dishes instead of just one dish. A savvily planned menu can help you wrangle wayward costs and make sure your cost forecasts are under control.
Hit a Home Run with First Timers
It’s easier for customers to forgive an error if they’ve visited you before. But for new guests, you may have only one chance to impress. So while it’s important to deliver outstanding service consistently, it’s absolutely imperative to go the extra mile to woo first-time visitors.
Train staff to ask patrons if they’ve eaten with you before. If they’re new to your establishment, make sure their order is perfect and that the whole experience is frictionless. You can even offer new customers a coupon for the next time they come in. That should go a long way to win repeat business.
Build a Loyal Following
Trying to attract new customers is all well and good, but your most lucrative market might be right in front of your face: the people already frequenting your restaurant. A loyalty rewards program is a great way to learn more about your customer base since you can gather some behavioral metrics through loyalty cards. It also increases the likelihood that customers will return to your business — and the amount that patrons spend when they’re at your restaurant, too!
Add Online Ordering to Your Website
Thanks to technology, most customers expect to be able to put in a food order without ever speaking to a member of your staff. Adding online ordering to your website or a mobile app serves up a whole new revenue stream. And pickup ordering is a lot less challenging to implement than delivery since your team is probably already used to handling orders over the phone. For simple, efficient online ordering, you can integrate your web ordering tool with your in-house POS so orders go directly to the kitchen.
Pick Up Business at Non-Peak Hours
Online ordering will allow you to appeal to work-weary, middle-of-the-week diners, but to-go orders aren’t the only way to drum up business during non-peak hours. Instead, offer a promotion or special that makes your restaurant irresistible to off-hour diners. At its most basic, this could be a free dessert with dinner or half-priced menu items on a certain day of the week.
For a more advanced promotion, schedule a themed night or special meal to increase restaurant sales — a Great Gatsby-themed party, for instance, or a prix fixe menu with an elaborate, indulgent spread. A reverse happy hour is another fun way to mix things up!
Use Geolocation Technology to Your Advantage
More and more diners are looking up restaurants on the go, which means for restaurants, it’s all about location, location, location. Luckily, technology can help you target mobile users within a certain radius. For instance, Local Awareness Ads on Facebook allow you to send restaurant ads to mobile Facebook users in your area. Similarly, if you have a heavy millennial customer base, you can design your own custom Snapchat filter for diners to use when they snap photos at your restaurant.
These technologies work because they’re incredibly precise — geo-targeted ads can even appear when a customer walks into a competitor’s restaurant. If that isn’t an efficient use of technology, we don’t know what is!
With some smart, creative sales and savings strategies, you’ll quickly fluff up your bank account. There’s no stopping you now!