Opening a restaurant, or indeed starting any business, is never easy. Even if it was your life’s dream to share your love of food with others and you’re really giving it your all, beginnings can be tough getting things off the ground. You will likely be spending more than you’re making for months and working overtime trying to figure out who your customers are and what it is that they want.
And even if you have had your restaurant for a while, it never hurts to make some more money!
If you’ve been looking for some ways to increase sales in your restaurant, take a look at the list of ideas to increase sales below for some advice. It might turn out to be easier and more fun than you think!
Increase restaurant sales by making it easy to find and reach you
Few things are more frustrating than flipping through a gallery of pictures that get your mouth watering and then not being able to find the address or phone number of the restaurant.
It’s surprisingly easy to add your restaurant’s address, phone number and website to Google My Business (GMB) and your Facebook page so that anyone wanting to pay you a visit can find out where you are located in mere moments. You should also do a quick check to make sure Google maps and other mapping sites lead potential customers right to your door and not down the dark alley across the street. Making it easy for people to discover your business is a gift that will just keep on giving!
Create a lunch menu to increase restaurant sales
Creating a lunch menu is pretty easy and offers some great benefits. First off, it opens you up to a whole new group of customers –– people from nearby companies who can’t wait to get out and grab a bite after noon. Second, if a few people from a certain company take a liking to your fares, you may soon find yourself making lunch for half of the entire office. Third, a lunch menu means making huge portions of several different dishes instead of many smaller portions of numerous dishes, which is definitely easier and cheaper. All these things are sure to increase sales revenue in your restaurant, so win, win, win!
Keep an eye on your reviews to get more customers coming in
According to recent research, approximately 60% of people read a restaurant’s reviews before deciding to visit it. That’s a lot! And that’s why it is so very important to stay on top of what’s going on in your reviews section on Facebook, but also on Yelp and TripAdvisor.
It’s true that dissatisfied customers are more likely to write a review, and that can be frustrating –– getting a 1-star review for the one time someone’s order got messed up while not receiving any good reviews for the 9 other times everything went smoothly would try anyone’s patience. Still, it’s up to you as the owner or social media manager to deal with bad reviews and complaints with patience and grace, even if the complaint goes too far, if only to show everyone else who will be reading that complaint that your restaurant cares.
So set some time away each week to go through your reviews on any relevant website to reply to reviews –– the good, the bad, and the ugly. You might want to start by thanking satisfied customers for the time they took to help you promote your establishment to get yourself in a good mood, and then on to the tricky bit. Of course, this is not to say that you need to apologize profusely and promise free meals to anyone and everyone (some complaints are just irrational!), but you should acknowledge any mistakes made and invite them back. They may decide to give your restaurant another try, and they may not –– either way, remember that this is less about one particular dissatisfied customer and more about the hundreds of other people who might make their decision regarding where to eat out based on your reviews.
Increase restaurant sales by working on your social media presence
Whether you like it or not, social media is here to stay in one form or another. If and when Facebook one days becomes passe, it will be replaced by a platform that will be more similar than different. All this means that if you haven’t already, it’s high time to start caring about your social media presence. This does not mean you need to set up an account for your restaurant on every popular platform there is, but picking, say, two or three and sticking with them is sure to bolster your sales.
Once you’ve chosen where to be active, the next question is how. First and foremost, take pictures. Lots of them. This should actually be really easy, as the dishes you make are already little works of art –– all that’s left to do is document that fact and share it with the world. Never underestimate the power of the Pavlovian response to a picture of a freshly-grilled juicy steak or a vibrantly colorful salad!
Next up, hashtags. Hashtags are important to help you reach people that are interested in the kind of food you make. A hungry vegan in your area taps #vegan and sees a picture of one of your restaurant’s delicious vegan dishes and bam! They’re ready to drop by. Hashtags can seem a little overwhelming at first, just because there are sooo many of them. If you are not quite sure where to start, check out the social media of restaurants similar to yours and try using some of those hashtags.
Last but not least, engagement. Just as with replying to reviews, engaging in dialogues with your social media audience can work miracles for your online visibility. Like comments made on your posts, reply to them whenever you can. This will work to both show that you care what your customers and potential customers think, as well as boost your post’s visibility. Win-win!
Increase restaurant sales by developing customer loyalty schemes
There are all sorts of ways to make sure customers keep coming back, the most popular of which is simply offering a discounted or free meal to people who have visited you, say, 10 times. This may seem basic, but it is part of human nature to enjoy collecting things, be they coins, dolls, books, or stamps on a membership card. And who among us does not enjoy the feeling of getting something for “free”? Achievement unlocked!
If you want to get a little more creative, you can use social media to, say, crowdsource ideas for the name of a new dish and then invite the creator of the best idea in for a free meal. Allowing people to take part in the development of your business even in such a seemingly insignificant way should make them more likely to come back to your brand.
Consider investing in a user-friendly website
There is a reason this is the last tip on this list, and the reason is that building and maintaining a safe, esthetically-pleasing and user-friendly website is definitely the trickiest thing here. If you’ve ticked off all the other points listed here, though, and you want to take things up a notch, keep reading!
First, remember that it really is better to have no website at all than have one that is clunky, confusing, and generally looks like it was designed in 1999. Some restaurants that may not have the resources to invest in a quality website choose to have Google transport users from the search engine to their Facebook page, and if you’re not looking to have your own website just yet, that solution is just fine.
And it’s not just about having a nice-looking website. If you decide to have a website built for your restaurant, your customer should be able to order via said website. Otherwise, what’s the point, really? Technically, people could call in, but keep in mind that it is 2020 and pretty much everything is moving online. Not to mention a lot of people just don’t have the time to call and then maybe call back when the line is not busy. And then there are some people who are just shy or undecided and need a little more time to articulate what they want –– if you want all these people’s business, you have to give them the comfort and convenience they need. There is a catch here, too: enabling online orders means investing in measures to make sure that payment details are kept secure. All in all, it is great to have your own website, but you have to be ready to do it right or not at all.
Hopefully these tips will give you some food for thought. Do you have any other ideas or tried and tested strategies of your own you’d like to share? Let us know!