As we are approaching the year’s end, businesses scramble to offer the best for customers; this also holds true for restaurants. However, it’s often challenging to increase sales.
But fear not! In this article, you will get 10 ideas on how to improve your restaurant sales before we enter 2014. Here they are:
1. Happy Hour rocks!
Similar to retail stores, restaurants could use a boost during off-peak hours. Typically offered in the late afternoon, Happy Hour can be a great way to introduce new items in your menu, as well as a way to keep your restaurant busy; empty restaurants are turn-offs, in my opinion.
2. Enable customers to order/book online
Allowing online orders and reservations boost your restaurant customer flows, sales and average sales per customer. The good news is, you can do so via your POS system.
Did you know your restaurant’s POS system can help you take orders online? POS Systems from Fedelta and other reputable providers integrate online ordering into the system, allowing customers and/or restaurateurs on behalf of their customers to place orders to suppliers online.
3. Sell what customers don’t usually make and eat at home
Offering coffee and tea is typical; how about offering something your customer wants, but rarely make at home – to complement your main menu? How about selling ginger bread and candy cane because, well, ’tis the season?
4. Free sample works
How can people love your dishes if they haven’t got a chance to try them first? You can offer free samples on-premise or join the local communities to distribute your samples. Be sure that you do the following to make free sample distributions worthwhile…
In any strategies you implement to improve your sales, be sure you focus on inviting people to your restaurant and try your dishes. This sounds logical, but surprisingly, many restaurateurs forget the power of invitation – perhaps due to the simplistic nature of it.
Be proactive – formally and informally invite people to your restaurant, and be sure you make your invitation personal. Visit local communities – your local little league team, your local church… – and tell them about your restaurant; about the separate dining area for special occasions; about the Happy Hour; the bottom line, do something – reach out.
6. Be there when your customers want you the most
You must understand the characteristics of your customers; their professions; their dining habits; know as much as you can about your target market – for one reason: So that you can always be there when your customers need something.
Is your restaurant surrounded by offices? If so, distribute your menu to offices; make it big as others are often too small to read. Are your customers often having lunch in a hurry? Try offering drive-thru or offer express lunch menu which lets your customers order faster. Do your customers often visit with young kids? Offer children-friendly menu – with toys! Do your customers love to hang out during late hours? Offer them late night special menus.
7. Cross-sell and upsell to offer more value
Bundling items works in retailing; it also works in restaurants. Just learn from your neighbourhood fast food restaurants: Group complementary food items and sell them at interesting price. McDonald’s overseas franchises have done it successfully and the company is now starting to offer it in the U.S (called “Blitz Box”.)
8. Call your top customers – and offer special deals
From your book, list the names of your frequent customers and offer them special deals – or V.V.I.P. deals. Show appreciation for their business and you might keep them yours – for a longer period of time (customer loyalty is increasingly rare, these days…)
9. Be a stat junkie – measure stats and love restaurant research
Gut feelings are nice, but as a restaurateur, you sometimes need to act based on market facts. Always look for industry updates, particularly research and survey results, which can give you an idea on the state of the industry, as well as discovering new trends and better ways to run your restaurant.
The art of being friendly and courteous never dies. You and your staffs’ friendly smile can make your customers’ day; simple thanks or hand shakes can make a huge difference. Makes it your restaurant’s mission to offer smile. It helps – big time.
Quite often, it doesn’t take a genius to boost your restaurant’s sales. Simple gestures, offers and new menu items can go a long way. Be creative in devising a growth plan for your restaurant and get ready to close this year with strong sales.
Photo credit: Trysil