This article was originally posted in March, 2013, focusing on the only four ways to increase restaurant sales. A lot has changed in our industry since then as we saw the rise and fall of daily discounts, an ever-changing economy and a surge of new and focused restaurants in all segments.
As consumers are dining out more, there is a constant battle for their business and competition is no longer limited to restaurants “like me” — fast-casuals compete with both quick service and casual dining, and grocery and convenience stores are moving in on their share of wallet, too, not to mention other unconventional competitors like movie theaters and even gas stations. And fine dining is getting a face-lift to keep up with focused upscale casual restaurants.
As we look for ways to influence dining decisions across all occasions, one thing will not change: there are still only four ways to increase restaurant sales.
There are many marketing and advertising tactics you can use within each, and many ways a restaurant can look to increase profits, from controlling costs to smaller portions; but there really are only four ways for a restaurant to increase sales.
1. Increase Number of New Customers
It’s no secret that restaurants need more customers to succeed, and attracting new customers is one of the ways in which you increase your customer count. There are a myriad of tactics to get new customers in the door. Some allow you to keep your brand equity, some may cause you to discount it, but getting new customers to try your location provides growth potential.
Tactics such as targeted emails, mobile applications, a social media presence and detailed web pages with directions and menus will draw new diners into your restaurant. Be sure you are working with a reputable company with valid email addresses that can help you reach the right targeted audience when it comes to acquiring new customers for your restaurant.
2. Increase Frequency of Existing Customers
Once you gain those new customers, keep them coming back often. This can be accomplished by providing an engaging experience both inside the restaurant and after they leave. Exceptional service, food, value and atmosphere all contribute to the restaurant experience. But what about after they leave?
Individual communication with customers is key to staying top of mind and completing the customer experience. Responding to all customer feedback, acknowledging concerns, and thanking customers for compliments (typically through reviews) will let your customers know you care about their opinion and appreciate their choice to dine with you, which will set you apart from the nameless and faceless competition. Providing incentives for coming back or rewarding for a return visit reinforces the value you see in a returning customer.
3. Increase Spend
Would you like to order an appetizer before your meal? I can recommend a great bottle of wine that would be perfect with both of your meals. Can I interest you in dessert? Seasoned fries with your burger?
Now that your seats are filled, ordering one extra item at each table can take your daily sales to a new level. Be sure your staff is attentive and reading the right signs to urge additional items. And when you pull in the right customers, they are willing to spend more, especially if it means they will get more restaurant rewards for doing so. For example, Rewards Network members actually spend an average of 23% more than non-members at program restaurant.
4. Increase rate of Table Turn/Flow-Through
Now that your restaurant is filled and everyone has ordered dessert, there is only one more way to increase restaurant sales – do it all over again, as many times as possible in a day. This doesn’t mean you should rush customers through their experience, but it does mean that you should be staffed appropriately to handle your tables and traffic.
In a full service restaurant consider the following: Are checks being presented and collected in a timely manner? Are tables bussed and reset as soon as your guests leave? Do you have the right mix of tables for your average dinner party sizes?
Or, in the case of a limited service restaurant, do you have enough registers/POS systems in place? Can you add express ordering lines, or a separate station for call-ahead order pick-up?
Maximize your restaurant’s potential by mastering these four ways to increase restaurant sales.
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