The hospitality industry is incredibly competitive. As such, knowing how to increase restaurant sales is essential for long-term growth. This was certainly true in past years when diners had the luxury of eating out whenever they wanted. It is even more necessary now that restaurants from coast to coast must factor in social distancing measures amid a global pandemic.
With slight modifications, many of the strategies that worked in the past still apply today. Below are six tactics you can use to help increase revenues at your restaurant now and in the future.
- Establish a baseline
Before diving into how to boost restaurant sales, it is important that you have a baseline against which to measure future improvements. Under normal circumstances, you might use historical internal sales numbers (if you’re an established business) or industry averages (if you are just starting). However, COVID-19 has rendered much of this data moot. This makes it harder to gauge your success over time. Even still, it helps to compile at least one or two weeks of sales data before moving forward.
- Offer delivery and curbside pickup
With social distancing rules in place, most restaurants have had to downsize their floorplans. This limits the number of patrons who can dine inside. By offering delivery and curbside pickup, you can serve more customers – while still promoting social distancing. To get started, all you need is:
- An online ordering system that allows users to remotely place their requests
- A virtual terminal solution that allows you to take orders and payment over the phone
- A POS system that accepts contactless payments at the curb and in the field
- Help improve restaurant sales with better marketing
In lean times, marketing budgets are usually the first ones to face cuts. Yet with so many restaurants going under, the impact of marketing is more profound than ever. There might be less overall consumer demand, but there are also fewer overall competitors. This makes it easier for your marketing messages to stand out from the crowd. Rather than scale back your budget, now is the perfect time to double down on your outreach efforts:
- Consider increasing your advertising spend across channels
- Be more active on social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram
However, launching a loyalty program with rewards and discounts for faithful patrons can also be an effective marketing strategy. According to one analysis, customer acquisition can cost five times more than customer retention.* It pays to cultivate your existing relationships. For tips on getting started, read our guide on how to launch a loyalty program.
- Extend operating hours
Another way to help counteract the negative effects of having less “usable” floor space is to extend your hours. This requires taking on extra costs – such as wages and utilities; however, it also allows you to add more sales while still promoting social distancing.
Alternatively, you can try to attract more traffic during lulls. If lunch is your slowest period of the day, for example, consider offering lower prices or meal deals mid-day. Just be sure to advertise these changes so that patrons are aware of the special deals you now offer.
- Upsell your menu
McDonald’s knows exactly how to increase covers in restaurants. It instructs employees to ask customers whether they “want fries with that” or whether they’d like to “supersize their orders.” This simple strategy for increasing the average sale per server also works in traditional table service restaurants.
Simply train your employees to tactfully push desserts, coffee, wine pairings, and other add-ons to help boost each patron’s bill. You can also have waitstaff recommend higher-priced items whenever customers can’t decide what to order. Whether patrons dine in, pick up, or request delivery, this upselling tactic allows you to extract more value from every order.
- Improve operational efficiency
During normal times, restaurant owners would often focus on increasing throughput (i.e., turnover) so they could serve more customers per unit of time. This strategy is harder to implement now that fewer people visit restaurants in person. Fortunately, there are other ways to increase the “efficiency” of your establishment, such as:
- Restricting the number of menu items so that inventory management and food prep become cheaper, easier, and faster.
- Making sure your restaurant satisfies all local health codes and food inspections. The CDC has recently published updated guidelines specifically targeted for the restaurant industry.
- Simplifying reporting and reconciliation by leveraging payment integration. Once enabled, all incoming sales are automatically reflected in the accounting and inventory management tools you already use – without requiring any manual data entry. This saves you valuable time, allowing you to focus on more important activities.
- Accepting more payment types – including gift cards, vouchers, online orders, and rewards cards. Offering more payment options may attract more customers and help boost sales.
- Making sure your payment environment adheres to the latest PCI data security standards. While becoming PCI-compliant won’t necessarily increase sales, it can help prevent fraud and abuse from eating into your profits.
Nearly every business on the planet is struggling to adjust to the “new normal.” Restaurants are no exception.
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