Restaurant sales are like roller-coaster rides: they can go up and down in an instant. Your competitors, seasonality, the economy and other factors impact the number of people who eat at your restaurant or food place. But one thing remains constant for restaurant owners: no matter how much you sell, there’s always room for improvement in terms of increasing restaurant sales.
Whether you’re a small new restaurant or a successful eatery, every restaurateur has the potential to increase their sales. But where do you start?
Should you start investing in better kitchen equipment? Is it time to build a new bar section or purchase a new beverage cart? Should you start paying for ads or a radio spot to increase your restaurant sales?
You can improve your ROI in several ways, but if you need a bit of “narrowing down” with your options, invest your time, effort and resources in the following ideas.
Offer Online Orders
People are doing most of their tasks online, especially now that COVID-19 has become part of our new normal. From grocery shopping to browsing for gifts, people prefer to check out items from a website instead of visiting brick-and-mortar stores. The same concept applies to restaurants.
Although staying open for dine-in customers should still be part of your regular programming, you should also accommodate customers who prefer to eat at home without stepping outside of their homes. By setting up an online order feature, you make it easier for customers to choose you over your competitors.
Apart from keeping people safe from COVID-19, online orders do not force guests to wait around for service, which allows your kitchen staff to complete more orders in less time. Also, you don’t have to worry about the non-stop ringing of phones or lines outside of your restaurant. You’re providing guests with a convenient dining experience while removing some burdens from your staff.
If you need more convincing, think about this: an online order feature also makes you more discoverable online.
Diversify Your Services
In line with adding an online order feature, consider diversifying your services for different types of customers.
Apart from instituting online ordering, you can also do the following for better customer service:
- Provide curbside pickup. For customers who prefer the quickest takeout service, let them pick up their orders. If your restaurant has a parking lot, reserve a couple of slots of curbside pickup customers. Train your team on how to properly handle curbside orders.
- Create a separate menu for delivery and takeout orders. These menus should be simplified versions of your dine-in menu. Choose food items that are easy to prepare and travel-friendly.
- Implement delivery services. Now is also the perfect time to set up delivery services for your restaurant. If you don’t have a delivery fleet, partner with third-party delivery services like Postmates and Grubhub.
- Optimize your drive-thru window. Serve drive-thru customers ASAP by stocking items near your drive-thru window. Condiments, napkins and plastic cutlery should be kept in plain sight. Also, check your speakers to make sure you can hear customers clearly.
Enhance Your Mobile Presence
As mentioned above, more people are accessing the Internet for products and services. A majority of them do so from their mobile devices. So if your restaurant has a business website but doesn’t work well on phones and tablets, you’ll lose customers.
Make sure that your business is optimized for mobile gadgets. Try the following techniques to enhance your mobile presence:
- List your business on Google My Business. If you don’t have a website for your restaurant, direct more customers to your business via Google My Business (GMB). Your GMB listing should have your basic information: address, email, phone number, operation hours and photos of your location. GMB listings also enable customers to leave reviews and post photos of your food.
- Create social media accounts. Improve your online presence by setting up social media accounts. If you don’t have the time to monitor queries and feedback coming through your social media accounts, hire a social media manager for the job. You can also use your social media platforms to make announcements for any promos and events you’re hosting.
Use Customer Retention Strategies
A customer loyalty program is one of the best ways to retain customers. Start by creating a membership card that tracks each customer visit, so they can earn more points for free items or rewards. You can also offer them free desserts and drinks if you are looking for a more budget-friendly strategy.
When you run a restaurant, keep in mind that there is always room for improvement. This mindset sets you up for success, which leads to more customers and sales.