Like any other business, restaurants need to be focused on the bottom line, and sales is a big part of it. Restaurant sales can be tricky to grow in a volatile market; while advertising is an important part of the equation, it can’t be your only approach to growing sales. There are actually many strategies to implement if you’re looking to increase restaurant sales without advertising. By taking a multi-tier approach, you can take on the problem from many different angles and really strengthen your business.
One of the most direct ways to increase restaurant sales without advertising is to encourage orders that increase the ticket size. The finesse that is successful upselling comes down to treating the upsell as a helpful guide for the indecisive customer. The server is enhancing their dining experience by suggesting dishes, helping them pair drinks with their meals, or pointing them to popular sides or customizations.
Not every group of guests is going to be open to upselling, so it’s important for your servers to recognize both non-verbal cues and indecisive questions that hint the guests are open to the upsell. On top of that, it’s crucial for you to train your servers about which star dishes to promote when there is the opportunity for upselling. Well-timed menu or wine suggestions from your staff can really start building up your sales.
As Christopher Stark of California Grill in Walt Disney World says, a major server challenge is “figuring out what their expectations are and providing the closest thing to that experience you can. […] Personally, I find that upselling is something I do almost automatically.”
2. More Efficient Table Turns and Flow-through
Beyond having bigger orders per table, you should also be looking at your table turns to increase restaurant sales without advertising. Ideally, you want to be able to turn over as many tables as you can during each shift. While you don’t want to rush customers out of their chairs and out the door, your staff should still be doing everything possible to keep things running smoothly.
Are your servers being timely in both presenting and collecting the check to be processed? Are your bussers immediately resetting the table once the guests have left? During the meal, are your servers properly checking in with their tables to make sure guests aren’t waiting too long to actually place their orders?
Making a point of training employees to really nail the timing here can make a big difference to your bottom line over the course of a shift.
For limited service restaurants, it’s all about the flow-through. Making a point to look out for bottlenecks in your ordering line queue in important. Do you rbest to ensure the flow from order to pay is efficient.
3. Keeping Up Your Restaurant’s Exterior
For many customers, the outside of your restaurant will be their first impression of your business. Whether they’re walking or driving past it, you want to make sure the exterior says inviting and appealing so the potential guests do actually come in.
Sweeping the walkways (or shoveling, in the case of snow), keeping the windows clean on the inside and out, raking and mowing the lawn are all important. You also want the entrance to be clearly accessible — your parking lot should be clear and your entryways handicap accessible.
4. Encouraging Healthy Server Competitions
This ties back into upselling in a strong way. Let’s say there’s are a few star dishes you’re trying to get your servers to upsell to customers. Let your front-of-the-house employees know before the shift starts that whoever sell the most of that item by the end of the night wins something special. Even something like a small cash reward can be really good incentive to push sales and boost engagement among your servers.
Just make sure the competition is light and fun, not stressful.
5. Reviewing Menu Layout
Adjusting the design of your menu layout could mean a big difference in increasing restaurant sales without advertising — if you do it right. You’re looking to highlight your stars (the dishes that are very popular and make you the most profit) so that new customers’ eyes go directly to those dishes. You want to be giving the things that make you the most money the most prominence.
It might also be good to split certain parts of the dining experience up into different menus. For instance, a separate dessert menu makes it easy for your servers to bring it out after the entree. Desserts can potentially be big sales boosters and having a menu where the desserts are front and center puts temptation into the guests’ minds.
Plus, giving them a small dessert menu to glance over is better than needing to hand them the full menu again or hoping they remember the dessert section from when they were looking at entrees.
6. Adjusting Menu Pricing
Another question to ask yourself when attempting to increase restaurant sales without advertising is, “Is my menu pricing where it needs to be?” This doesn’t necessarily mean making items more expensive, though. It’s more about making sure the prices are in line with the market value of the ingredients you’re using.
For both menu layout and menu pricing, making changes might mean having to print new menus. While that means upfront costs, readjusting the menu to better serve your sales will ultimately pay off for you. Just make sure you take the time to really evaluate where your menu and its prices are so you can make the right choices (and only have to reprint these once).
7. Offering Rewards
Consumers love getting rewarded for dining out and statistics show that by offering that extra incentive, you’re actually encouraging your guests to spend more — an easy way to increase restaurant sales without advertising.
Raveen Arora of The Dhaba in Tempe, Arizona, knows that fact well: ” Rewards Network’s intrinsic value, is so huge. If I can get some points or some kind of a benefit, it’s a psychological edge.”
The great thing about Rewards Network is that our dining members not only search out program restaurants in their area, but they’re more like to spend extra in order to get extra rewards! It’s like an automatic upsell before they even walk through your doors.
Want to know more about how Rewards Network can increase your restaurant sales without advertising the old-fashioned way?