It’s easy to lose sleep over your business’s bottom line. After all, cutting costs and managing margins can’t be taken lightly, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While you’re doing all you can to reduce food and labor costs, consider these 16 options to help make sure your restaurant’s top line continues to grow. Some of these ideas can be done virtually or in-person, and you can adapt them as you move through the different capacities of your local government’s reopening phases or save them for later when you’re at full dining capacity.
1. Offer signature packages
“I am always brainstorming new creative event packages to keep our image fresh while sticking to the vision and values of my company’s brand,” says Ryan Rosenberry, Event Sales Manager for Red Beard Restaurants & Special Events. “With Tripleseat, this requires just a couple of minutes of your time to compile a package and upload it. This shaves off hours of my time every month.”
Time saved means you have more time for tasks that’ll bring in more revenue, like lead follow-up and proactive selling. Win-win!
2. Optimize your menu
Is your menu just a mishmash of apps, mains, and desserts? If so, it may be time to rethink it. The deliciousness of your menu offerings doesn’t mean a thing if they’re not raking in their full potential, right? It could be as simple as re-naming a classic item, or situating your highest margin items where customer’s gaze will first meet your menu.
If you’ve been handing out the same iteration for years, consider refreshing items on a biannual or seasonal basis. A new menu is also a great thing to promote via social media and other marketing tools. Bonus points if you get high-quality photos taken of a few dishes, too.
3. Throw a themed event
There’s no shortage of special events your restaurant can pull off without putting a strain on your profits or stressing out your staff. Whether it’s a father-daughter night or a wine and cheese tasting, leverage the right technology to ensure your event’s success.
With the help of event management software, you can streamline communication with your staff and impress your customers. Most importantly, you can increase restaurant sales.
Looking to maximize your space during times that business is usually slow (or you’re closed)? There are plenty of creative events your venue can host to get a fresh crop of event clients and guests through your doors. Reach out to a local yoga studio, artist, or florist, for example. See if there’s potential to create a partnership that’ll put some extra cash in both of your pockets.
4. Secure a social media presence
Chances are, the majority of your customers are active on social media. That means you should be too. Restaurants with a strong social media presence blow their “unsocial” competition out of the water. It’s crucial to be where your customers are.
Make sure you’re set up with a Facebook business page, a Twitter account, and an Instagram account. These are great places to promote your daily specials and share drool-inducing photos. Once you’re a certified social butterfly, get set up with a free social media management tool (like Hootsuite) to monitor the activity and engagement on your channels.
5. Sell branded products
Do you run a coffee shop with house-roasted beans? Package them and sell them. If you own a microbrewery with one-of-a-kind brew, offer it for sale in growlers or kegs.
Selling something you’re known for as a branded product is one surefire way to generate a secondary revenue stream for restaurant sales. Or, if you invested a lot into your design and branding, simply printing T-shirts could boost business (and serve as free promotion by the people sporting them!).
6. Increase speed of service
You know that the more tables you turn per hour, the more money you make. So why not provide your staff with the tools they need to increase the speed and efficiency of service?
For example, a mobile point of sale (POS) device gives servers the ability to send orders directly from the POS to the kitchen. This way, they don’t have to race to and from a stationary terminal bottlenecked by other servers.
7. Partner with popular delivery services
In today’s app-driven environment, convenience is king. Consider teaming up with popular delivery services in your area, like Seamless, GrubHub, and DoorDash.
This can help streamline your ordering process, attract new customers, and satisfy your existing customers all from the comfort of their smartphones.
8. Embrace the power of upselling
Train your servers to be better salespeople by mastering the art of upselling. “Bottled water or Perrier?” “Would you like to add chicken to your Caesar salad?”
This is another great use for your POS system. It can help to increase average check size by prompting servers to suggest add-ons and highlight priced modifiers to the customer.
9. Organize a workshop
Do you have the best pizza in town? Are customers constantly raving about your killer cocktails? Show off your skills and host a virtual or in-person workshop.
Extending the experience of your restaurant into hands-on participation will not only help you make some extra cash with the workshop fees, but it’ll do wonders for customer loyalty as well.
10. Try new marketing strategies
Sure, email marketing is a tried and true way to reach potential customers. But why not give text marketing a try? With the high open rates of text messages, it only makes sense.
Create an offer to get customers to subscribe, like “Get Free Dessert,” then start sending weekly specials to your growing list of subscribers. Your customers will look forward to receiving these deals, and you can look forward to the revenue from repeat visits.
11. Consider private dining
If themed events aren’t your thing, private dining could be. Maybe you’ve got an expansive banquet room that could get more use. Even something as simple as a semi-private area that you surround in curtains for a more intimate feel can attract small private parties.
It’s especially helpful to leverage these services at times when you’re particularly slow or normally closed. Not sure how to advertise a program like this? Here are five ideas.
12. Create a restaurant newsletter
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: good restaurant newsletters work! The potential ROI on creating a newsletter is huge. Newsletters have been reported to outpace social media in terms of effectiveness. They also give you more control when it comes to your target audience.
Whether you’re looking for the right email platform, tips for building an audience, or good examples of layouts that’ll get people to keep scrolling, this blog post on restaurant email marketing has it all.
13. Host pop-up experiences
It’s official: pop-up bars and restaurants are trending. Whether they’re promoting a new television series or highlighting a touring chef, these limited-time experiences have proven to be a bonafide crowd draw.
There are a few different ways to make them work for your business, depending on your bandwidth. You could start hosting regular events like Tiki Tuesdays, complete with a special cocktail menu of tropical drinks. You could also partner with a visiting or emerging local chef who wants to set up in your space one night a month.
14. Keep details in one centralized place
When details slip through the cracks, so can restaurant sales. That’s why, especially when you’re running an events program at your restaurant, it’s crucial to stay organized.
“Log as much information as possible into your event notes,” advises Ryan. “If you tend to do a lot of business over the phone, switch to a system like Tripleseat as your main source of communication so that you have a well-defined paper trail outlining expectations for all parties involved.”
15. Participate in your city’s Restaurant Week
If you’re not taking part in your city’s annual Restaurant Week events, now’s the time. Not only does this give your space extra exposure, but it’s an effective way to get new customers flocking to your doors.
Restaurant Weeks are a great opportunity to show off signature dishes, and even experiment with new ones. You can also leverage them to get the word out about your private event offerings. Include details about your program in check presenters, and consider offering a special deal if someone books an event within a certain time frame.
16. Adopt a loyalty program
Looking to inspire happy customers to keep coming back? Incentivize them! There are plenty of options for incentivizing repeat clients for their continued business. Choosing the one that’s right for you often depends on things like your budget, the type of business you run, and your personal preference.
Casual eateries can opt for things like punch cards or coupons. More high-end establishments, however, may rely on app- or email-driven programs. No matter which avenue you take, the key is to keep the process simple on the customer’s end, so that they actually participate.
Private events and Tripleseat will help you grow revenue
There’s extra money to be made in the restaurant industry. By taking action on just a few of these tips, you’ll be well on your way to running a more profitable business. Once you have a plan in place, use Tripleseat to manage their events from inquiry to the final bill. Tripleseat will help you manage your event leads, booking details, communication, and so much more. If you’re not a Tripleseat customer and you’re interested in learning more about Tripleseat’s features, schedule a demo at your convenience to take a closer look.
This post was originally published as a guest blog from TouchBistro in 2017 on the Gather blog. It was expanded and updated in 2019.