If you work in the foodservice industry, you know that the competition can be cutthroat. With lots of competition and rapidly changing trends, it can be tough to keep your business at the forefront of customers’ minds. One major factor to consider is the balance between acquiring new customers vs. retaining existing customers. Then there’s the questions of: What do you do with those customers once they’ve come through the door? And how can you get them to spend more without making them feel pressured?
Let’s explore some techniques you can use to attract new customers, keep regulars coming back, and, once you have a great customer base, maintain a steady cash flow.
What’s your average bill amount? Concentrate on raising it 5-10% through upselling. An extra dessert here, and appetizer there, it all makes a difference. Remind your staff that they are in the sales business. Getting a customer to add fries to an order, or ordering a more expensive appetizer, shows at the end of the night when you add up the tickets. Identify your top-performing salespeople and have them mentor other members of the wait staff. Sometimes the smallest thing boosts a sale.
Construct Your Menu Carefully
Certain menu items and food prices in your restaurant may be keeping your sales lower than they could be. Maybe the menu item you think is the most profitable is actually too expensive in your customers’ eyes, or maybe it’s time to discontinue the dish that no one seems to be ordering. Think your pricing model may need an update? The only way to be sure is to start menu engineering and strategically picking price points and menu offerings that will increase restaurant sales.
Start a loyalty or reward system
Want to encourage repeat customers? A loyalty card is a great way to do this. In 2013’s second quarter fiscal results, Starbucks saw a 26 percent rise in profit and an 11 percent overall jump in revenue, which they attributed to their loyalty program, My Starbucks Rewards.
The great thing about customer loyalty programs today is that they don’t have to cost a small fortune. The move to mobile, especially in the food and beverage industry, has meant more options for restaurant owners looking to retain customers and increase profits. And, because digital-rewards mobile apps come in at very affordable prices, companies are able to subscribe to a program that fits their needs.
Turn Your Customers into Promoters
This one should be obvious – but you can’t expect to see an increase in restaurant sales without stellar meals, presentation and service! Word of mouth is immensely powerful: while a satisfied customer will share their praise with three people, a dissatisfied customer will share their grievances with 10. By that logic, you could lose a customer forever before they even come in your door. Don’t let this happen. Consistently provide an exceptional experience for all guests that will increase restaurant sales from them and their connections.
Communicate with Employees.
Hold regular meetings and let your employees in on your plans. With a little knowledge, they are more apt to give you their best performance. Some of your more astute employees will know when sales are soft. Others will not. Let your team know how the bottom line is going. Some restaurants have meetings before each shift. Remember, the performance of your staff reflects on your restaurant. A great staff can make a great restaurant. A poor staff can take you the other way, and many customers won’t even have to come in to find out. Word will get around. It all starts with leadership.
These are just a few samplings of the ways to increase revenue at your restaurant. The real key is to keep an eye on the profit needle. When you see an uptick in sales, analyze why. What worked? Who knows – the next time we write an article like this, we could be talking about the successes in your restaurant.