Three Essentials for Increasing Restaurant Sales

Three Essentials for Increasing Restaurant Sales

“Bottoms in seats or food in mouths.”

Those may not be the exact words my manager uttered to me years ago when I started my career in food and beverage. But the PG-rated, family-friendly version still holds true. There really are only two ways to rev up restaurant sales: Attract more guests or get existing customers to increase their spend.

With food and labor costs on the rise, both approaches require constant attention. But in this blog, we’ll tackle the latter. Aside from my experience in the restaurant trenches, I’ve worked for years at MICROS and Oracle helping restaurateurs evaluate their operations to increase guest purchasing.

Here are three “tried and true” practices to help your restaurant business do the same:

Fix your restaurant menu

The harsh reality is, 70 percent of restaurant menu items are not being sold regularly. Over time, it’s easy to lose focus on the menu, letting it get cluttered with under-performers. That’s why the first thing operators should do when focusing on guest spend is to identify exactly what consumers are – and are not – purchasing. The author William Faulkner once instructed writers to “kill their darlings,” meaning they shouldn’t hesitate to edit their prose with a critical eye. When it comes to reviewing their menus, restaurateurs shouldn’t show any mercy, either: If an item isn’t selling, nix it. If the margin isn’t making the cut, reprice it. The use of menu management software makes this easier.

Another important consideration when analyzing menus is to factor the impact of combos, limited-time offers and discounts. They all play a key role in driving sales, but it’s essential to realize that the sale of such special offers can undermine the performance of other menu items. The worst-case scenario? Allowing a promotion to cannibalize the sales of a best seller. It’s highly recommended to use reporting software that analyzes sales performance, providing insights to build promotions that not only incentivize guests to spend more but truly enhance the bottom line. This is where restaurant analytics come in handy.

Make reordering food and drinks easy

I often told my servers a simple truth: “There is nothing worse than being out of beer with a hot wing in your mouth.” Years later, I still stand by this statement, because it highlights two cardinal sins of our business – a missed opportunity to take a drink order and a ruined guest experience. Such mistakes shouldn’t be occurring these days, especially with the availability of tableside ordering. With a mobile POS system in hand, servers can be on the floor and engage guests more frequently. That means a greater likelihood they won’t miss the opportunity to capture an additional margarita or add a dessert. In fact, according to our field research, restaurant staff using tablets provide two additional “service rounds” per open check.

Never miss an upcharge

There’s a reason why guests might not be getting charged for the extra bacon they ordered on their sandwich. For example, there might be five different prices for that additional bacon, depending on the portion in a given recipe. And some point-of-sale systems simply may not be configurable to accommodate so many options. That’s why it’s important to consider a point-of-sale system with conversational ordering technology; its pre-configuration allows staff to capture every modifier with the correct pricing – specific to the item being sold. When staff consistently captures the right items at the right prices, check averages soar.

Unfortunately, now, as your guest, I’ll have to start paying for all that bacon.

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