5 TURN-KEY STRATEGIES TO INCREASE RESTAURANT SALES IMMEDIATELY
I’ve noticed something odd about myself: whenever an owner or manager asks me how to increase restaurant sales, I find myself cringing and tightening up, but I couldn’t figure out why for the longest time. After all, it’s a perfectly reasonable request, to want to increase your bar and restaurant sales. Make more money. Buy a wave runner. Go on vacation and ride said wave runner. Who in the hell doesn’t want that? I love wave runners.
And it’s not that I don’t have some powerful and highly-effective strategies for boosting sales like a rocket, because I do (see below).
Then this past weekend I was in Seattle helping out a restaurant owner who was struggling and wanted help turning his restaurant around, despite the fact that he had absolutely no systems in place —no financial systems, no inventory systems, no marketing systems, no staff systems, or any other system—and so all he kept saying to me was, “I just need to increase my restaurant sales, man, and everything will be ok. How do I increase my sales?”
And that’s when it hit me. That’s when the tightening started in my neck and shoulders, and I suddenly realized why this request makes me so insane: its because I feel like the owners want a band-aid to fix a hemorrhaging problem. Sort of like when people are in debt and they think if they could just make $50,000 in salary instead of $40,000 that all their debt and financial problems will go away, but we all know that as soon as they get that extra $10,000 that they’re going to spend it on something else. It’s built into their foundation as a human being, and just increasing their income will not fix their problems. It’s why 90% of the people who win the lottery lose it all within 3 years.
Businesses are the same way. Without a foundation and standards and proper systems in place, it’s impossible to maintain a high level of success, and it’s impossible to make a profit. And that’s what this guy was asking for: a quick fix to his struggles by looking for a magical way to bring in more cash to camouflage his ineffectiveness and skills as a business owner and manager. There was a certain desperation in his plea, and I think that’s what gets my panties in a twist. Desperation is a repellent to me.
But you’re not here to help me work through my issues. The truth is, increasing sales is a good thing. A very good thing. Of course it is. I’m not saying it’s not. I just want owners and managers to know that without proper systems set-up within the business, more sales will only lead to more cash bleeding out the other end.
I’m going to assume that you are already savvy as a pot-bellied pig, that you have all your systems in place, and you are now ready to increase your sales and succeed on a massive level. Or, even if you are desperate to increase your sales and get out of the pit you’re in, I won’t judge. In fact, I’ve decided that I’m more than happy to share my top 5 strategies for increasing your bar and restaurant sales in a flash. Let’s do this.
HOW TO INCREASE YOUR RESTAURANT SALES ON A MASSIVE LEVEL
1. INCREASE THE NUMBER OF NEW GUESTS
No secret formula here. More guests = more money. However, finding new customers in shark-infested, competitive waters is not always easy, but that also means it’s not easy for your competitors either, so you simply have to be better at it. Let’s talk about how to attract the attention of people who have never heard of you.
-Word-of-Mouth – I know, this is as cliché as it is difficult to measure, but let’s not forget the #1 most important tactic to focus on in your business: create a great experience for your guests. People’s memory of prices or how the food tastes or the the lighting is minimal compared to how you make them feel. They will never forget that, and more importantly, they will tell everyone about their great experience. Abracadabra! New customers. Forgettable experiences get you no word-of-mouth, and bad experiences get you horrible word-of-mouth which is the kiss of death.
-Create an Amazing Website – And by “amazing” I don’t mean it has to be Amazon.com or some $5,000 website, but you should have a local presence on the web, and when I talk about the importance of a website, consider this: 86% of people check menus online before deciding which restaurant to go to. That means if you don’t have a nice website with your menu on it, chances are that those 86% are going to dine across the street from you at your competitor’s restaurant. The truth is, you can create an awesome and professional website with Wix, or any other similar website builder, for very little money. You can learn how to do that here: How to Create an Awesome Website With Wix. The basic idea here is when people search for “Restaurants in My Town, USA” you want to have enough of a presence that you pop up in that search or in a Yelp search, and when people click on your site, they should be excited to come check you out for the first time.
-Social Media – It’s time to stop resisting. Using Facebook and other social media platforms is the way it is now. Stop using your Razr flip phone and stop hoping people will walk by and find your restaurant. You need to use Facebook to your advantage by posting pictures of your dishes and cocktails, as well as events you are hosting. In addition, you can use Facebook to target people in the area who go out to eat and you can offer them a coupon or free appetizer to get them in for the first time, and once you get them in for the first time, you can move on to the second strategy.
2. INCREASE THE NUMBER OF REPEAT GUESTS
Now that you’ve got them to come in once, it’s time to get them to come back again and again. You’ve probably heard that it costs way more to acquire a new customer than keep existing ones coming back, and that’s true, so you have to take advantage of having them come in the first time. Here are the strategies for doing just that:
-Create a Great Experience + Atmosphere – Hmmmm…a great experience…where have I heard that before? Yep, I’m telling it to you again because it’s that important. Great customer service and a great atmosphere makes them feel good, and with all the stress and shit people go through on a daily basis, everyone wants to return to where they felt good at one time. That’s going to be your place.
-Email Marketing – Here is the most powerful marketing tool you can ever hope to adopt in your business. I can’t overstate the power of a customer email list. And no, we don’t just send them a bunch of discounts and coupons three times per week. Through email, we allow them to get to know us and trust us. We send valuable and interesting emails that tell our story, share our menu items, share our staff, talk about events coming up. We make the emails fun and engaging so they want to open them the minute they see them in their inbox. Telling our story creates a raving group of followers. More on how to actually create a large email list next time.
-Start a Loyalty Program – I’ve talked about loyalty programs before, and in fact you can read the article here or watch the video by clicking here. Think about it, if you are considering which restaurant to go out to, would you go to some random place or a place where you belong to a loyalty program, where you’re appreciated, where you get discounts and benefits because you’re a member and you’re treated like you’re important. A place where…well, as the song goes, everyone knows your name.
3. RAISE CHECK AVERAGES
This is an excellent area to focus on because it doesn’t take an excessive amount of energy to raise your check averages. In fact, a couple of the strategies listed below can be implemented almost immediately.
-Upsell – Everyone knows about upselling, but how often do you actually execute and enforce upselling with your staff? I would guess a lot less than you should be. By your servers and bartenders simply asking your guests if they’d like to add chicken, avocado, etc. to their salad or asking them what type of vodka they’d prefer (premium liquors makes more profit), this small effort will greatly increase your check averages and your restaurant sales.
-Online Ordering – If you don’t have a website with online ordering, you should be hung upside down by your toes and dipped into a cauldron of boiling tar and angry honey bees. There is a huge opportunity to raise your sales by allowing people to order directly on your website so they can swing by and pick it up. 75% of people who go out to eat, also order food from a restaurant online. Don’t miss out on those 75%.
-Raise Your Prices – I just wrote an article recently about strategies to lower bar and food cost percentages, and I talk about this strategy in that article and how effective it can be. Here’s a quick synopsis of how much you can increase your restaurant sales by simply raising your food menu items by $1 each and your bar menu items by $0.50 each. If you sold 1,000 menu items per week (bar and food combined), and you raised each food menu item just $1 and you raised your bar menu items $0.50, your food revenue would increase $250 per week and your bar revenue would increase $375 per week. That’s $32,500 per year in increased revenue! You can read that full article here: 7 Steps to Lowering Your Bar and Food Costs Now.
-Menu Engineering – I’m not going to go deep into menu engineering here. It is a bit more intensive to work this out, but with menu engineering, you basically make your most profitable items stand out on the menu using different techniques to draw the eye of the guest to that menu item. More on that to come in a future article.
4. TURN TABLES MORE EFFICIENTLY
Again, no big secret here, but are you focusing on it and executing it? We certainly don’t rush the guests out of there, but the faster you can turn the table, the more tables you will turn over the course of the day and night, and the more money you will make. It’s common sense, but let’s look at it:
-Systemizing – I’ve already talked about this to start the article (We know, Dave, you never shut up about it), and it’s because putting systems in place allows everything to run smoothly because there is no ambiguity about what should be done. All you need are rules and systems in place so that all tables are greeted, served, cleaned up and checked out in an efficient manner. You can view my 10-Step Customer Service System here, in which I talk about exactly that.
-Staff Appropriately – I know you want to save money on labor, but short-staffing during busy hours so that the few that are working are running around like the Japanese do from Godzilla is going to cost you a lot of money. Make sure you have plenty of staff scheduled during busy times so your service system works. Otherwise, guests are waiting to be sat, tables aren’t cleared, checks aren’t delivered and tables aren’t reset for the next round of people. Kiss your sales bye-bye.
5. ADD CATERING OR SPECIAL EVENTS
A good friend of mine owns two bars that are fairly successful on a local level, meaning the foot traffic is healthy and his sales are decent. Then he decided to add catering and banquets to his business and it absolutely took off. You can do food and bar or just bar, but he does private parties, business parties, weddings and more. The profit margin on just bar catering is an insane 95% because by law people cannot take the booze home, so he’s able to resell it again at the next event.
In fact, this business plan is so profitable, I have a course coming out soon on how to add catering to your bar and/or restaurant. Let me know if you want to get on the waiting list for this course and you’ll get a special price (just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org).
In addition, if you have the space for it, allowing corporations or other groups to rent out your bar/restaurant on nights (or days) when you wouldn’t otherwise be that busy anyway, will great increase your bar and restaurant sales and profits.
There you have it, some powerful strategies to increase your restaurant sales. Each of them will have a positive effect, but the more you implement together, the more sales you’ll be able to rake in. Just make sure you systemize each process so your business runs smooth and efficiently.
Have a great week, make a million, and I’ll see you next time.