It’s been a tough year for restaurants. And while it appears that we’re turning a corner, you can never go wrong by optimizing your business to become more profitable. Sometimes this means increasing sales. Creating a restaurant branding strategy that truly resonates with your customers and keeps them coming back requires work but, the reward is a sustainable business with a loyal customer base.
Simple Tips for Increasing Your Sales
Figure out what your number is. What number do you need to reach to feel good about where your sales are? You might measure it per week, per month, or per quarter. It could be a gross revenue figure, or you may choose to measure it in terms of increases (e.g., increasing revenue by 15 percent this month).
You must start with a specific number. Otherwise, you’ll end up blindly chasing sales without knowing what you’re actually pursuing. Are we on track? Off-target? Do we need to pick up some slack over here?
While you may already have a clear idea of what your number is, we recommend starting small and aiming for incremental growth. For example, that might look like a 10 percent increase in net revenue each week. When you look at it as a gradual process of improvement, it’s less intimidating.
Suddenly, there isn’t this pressure to double sales by the end of the month. You’re able to make small tweaks that, when compounded together, produce positive, lasting growth across the board.
Here are a few suggestions for increasing your sales this year:
1. Get Your Alcoholic Beverage License
Did you know that wine can be marked up 200 percent or more? Or that the average markup for beer is somewhere around 500 to 600 percent? The same is true of liquor.
Depending on the type of restaurant you operate, getting your alcoholic beverage license could be a savvy move. Since state laws and rules are different everywhere, we recommend consulting with an experienced attorney who specializes in alcoholic beverage licensing law. They can streamline the process on your behalf.
2. Take Control Over Deliveries
If the past year has shown us anything, it’s that restaurants need to offer food delivery service in order to be competitive in today’s market. And even after restaurants open back up to 100 percent capacity in the coming months, delivery will continue to be in high demand.
While most restaurants immediately partner with the first food operator who offers them a bonus to sign an agreement, these arrangements aren’t always as good as they first appear. After initial introductory periods, commissions can be very steep. This cuts away at your profit margins and can easily become more of a hassle than it’s worth.
While more expensive up-front, we recommend creating your own delivery system and taking control over this process. There are plenty of vendors who can help you build your own system to take commission-free orders. This will eventually save you thousands of dollars a year.
3. Optimize Your Menu
Take a look at your menu and optimize it for profitability. There are three specific ways we recommend do thing this:
- Immediately remove any menu item that’s rarely ordered and/or is more trouble than it’s worth. (If your kitchen staff regularly complains about making a certain dish, it’s probably hurting more than helping.)
- Aim for quality over quantity. Do you really need 40 different dishes? Try trimming back to just 25. (And be intentional about which 25 you keep. Choosing dishes with crossover ingredients will allow you to be smart with inventory and preparation.) Need help writing mouth-watering descriptions on your menu? Work with a restaurant copywriter.
Look for opportunities to add more profitable items to your restaurant menu. This includes fountain drinks and coffee, alcohol, soup, pizza, dessert, breakfast items, and a children’s menu.
- Try Family Meal Deals
More families are ordering takeout and delivery than ever before. But unless you have a menu that’s conducive to family ordering, you might get surpassed by the local pizza place.
Consider creating a “family meal deal” menu that’s reserved for takeout and delivery orders. These are large family-sized orders that usually include a large entree and generous portions of sides. It may also come with a 2-liter beverage and dessert. If priced and packaged competitively, this could be marketed as a convenient alternative to preparing dinner.
4. A Little Here…A Little There
While it’s possible that you could implement one of these tips – like obtaining your alcoholic beverage license – and see your sales immediately increase by 30 to 50 percent, you’ll most likely have to layer these tactics together. You’re not looking for a silver bullet to save you – you’re trying to optimize every facet of your restaurant so that you have a more sustainable business model.
Treat each improvement like an experiment. Stick with the ones that work and quickly ditch the ones that don’t.