Restaurants are just like any other business: Success or failure is ultimately determined by the bottom line. A relentless focus on boosting restaurant sales is essential, but it can be all too easy to get distracted by all the other aspects of running a restaurant that don’t relate to sales.
Whether your restaurant is new, long established, going through a slow time, or simply not operating at maximum capacity as much as you’d like, these ideas to increase restaurant sales should give you the inspiration you need to get focused on your financial success.
1. Engineer the menu
If you’re wondering how to boost restaurant sales, start by looking at the menu. Menu engineering is an approach to menu design that helps restaurants increase sales. Its goal is to increase profit without reducing guest happiness. Try giving prominent placement to the most profitable dishes. Put them at the top, set them off in a box, and give the description some special attention to make them irresistible to guests.
2. Offer Experiences
When you host a special event, it gives people a reason to visit the restaurant. It can be a more casual thing, like a pop-up dinner with a local guest chef famous for her burgers, or a 5-course prix fixe tasting menu. Experiences can create excitement, drive demand, and bring more guests through the doors. If you offer prepaid experiences, you can bring in revenue up front and protect against the dreaded no-shows.
3. Double down on social media
These days, it’s very common for people to first notice a restaurant online, usually on social media channels. In fact, most consumers (87%) have visited a new restaurant based on finding it on social media, according to a survey from OpenTable. A renewed push to post regularly and engage your community online can help attract new and returning guests, boosting sales.
4. Polish your profile and business listings
If it’s been awhile since you checked your Google business listing and OpenTable profile for completeness and accuracy, it’s time to give it a once over. You’ll attract guests with fresh photos, the current menu, and the latest information about your business.
5. Branch out into retail
One way to drive restaurant sales is to think beyond the dining experience. If you’re a brunch spot that’s well known for granola, package it so guests can buy a bag on their way out. This goes for anything else that lends itself to packaging, such as barbecue sauce, salad dressing, cookies, and more. Also consider branded T-shirts, aprons, or baseball hats. People like to rep their favorite restaurant, and these items make great gifts for friends who have moved.
6. Embrace delivery (if it works for you)
The era of delivery is upon us. Third-party delivery platform DoorDash saw its revenue increase by 33% in 2022. The demand is through the roof. Third party delivery platforms undoubtedly eat into a restaurant’s profits with their fees, but often the increased volume of sales that comes with being on these platforms is worth it. Every restaurant needs to crunch the numbers for themselves.
7. Tweak turn times
Sometimes a restaurant is hindering their sales by setting longer turn times than its guests really need. Dig into the turn time analysis report to learn how long guests are really staying based on the party size, day of the week, and shift. If you see that people are clearing out sooner than you thought, you may be able to turn more tables and make more sales by simply adjusting turn times accordingly.
8. Upsell and add on
Upsells and add ons increase orders when they’re offered skillfully. The best upsells are as welcome by guests as they are by you. Train your team on how to make an art of the upsell. The savviest servers understand that effective and appreciated upselling starts with great guest data. Instead of making random or price-based recommendations, train the team to use what you know to make personalized suggestions.
That can mean reminding them of the Burgundy they enjoyed with steak last month, mentioning a special that appeals to their tastes, or talking up after dinner drinks when they’ve had a round in the past. Offering optional add-ons can drive sales as well. People are often happy to pay for luxuries like fresh truffles on their pasta.
9. Send targeted emails
Instead of sending your whole email list a form letter urging them to visit, try personalizing automated marketing messages. It’s simple and effective to target guests who haven’t dined recently with a “we miss you campaign” or invite them to celebrate their anniversary.
10. Rethink private dining
If you aren’t maximizing your private dining spaces, you may be leaving money on the table. More than 61% of people plan to host more events in the future, and 40% of those events will be in restaurants, according to a Tripleseat survey. The trend is moving toward smaller groups booking private dining. More than a third of people surveyed said they’re planning events for fewer than 20 people.
Make sure you’re listed on OpenTable’s private dining marketplace so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to boost sales via private dining. Don’t forget to integrate with Tripleseat to streamline private dining planning.
11. Sign up for restaurant week
Some restaurant owners think that these local promotions aren’t worth the effort. The numbers tell another story. Restaurant week increases check averages by 23% according to Restaurant Hospitality. If increasing sales is your goal, restaurant week is a great way to do it. And hopefully, the new guests you welcome during restaurant week will become loyal regulars who help increase sales the rest of the year.
How to boost restaurant sales is a question every restaurant owner asks from time to time. Luckily, restaurateurs aren’t powerless over market forces. There are plenty of actions that boost business. Try starting with one of these 11 ideas to increase restaurant sales.