Have good food in a great place. Let’s face it. Sales can’t turn around if you have a lousy chef. The appearance of your restaurant, from the table linens to the menu covers, has a great impact on your customers, too.
Create a specialty item. What are you good at? And what is your bestseller? McDonalds started with a lot of items on their menu, but when they realized that burgers were their most profitable product, they streamlined operations and focused on it. This does not, of course, mean that you would stop developing other items—what’s important is that people will remember you for something you’re good at.
Offer great deals. Come up with combo-meals, or however you want to call them. Even high- end restaurants can give a good deal to their customers by creating combinations of appetizer, soup, entrée and dessert.
Recognize your most profitable items and promote it. Knowing your most cost-efficient menu item and promoting it is one of the many ways to increase your restaurant sales. Endorsing these items could be done by your service crew or through visual displays that could be easily seen by your customers upon ordering.
Second, develop a strong customer retention program.
Continuously train your staff. Customer service might not be the reason why people take time out to come to your place, but it certainly is a possible reason why they won’t. “Food is great there, but service is really bad. So let’s go somewhere else.”
Personalize your service and get to know your customers. People come back to a restaurant if they know that management knows their name and their dining preferences. Find time to say hello.
Create your customer data. From your customer data you can check the actual demographics and profile of your market. Knowing your market is a way to increase your restaurant sales. Get a trained staff to do this, building enough rapport to the customers that would get them to sign their full name, postal address, email address, occupation, special dates like birthdays and anniversary dates. Give incentives, as most people are hesitant to do this. One restaurant promised a free slice of cake for one table that fills-out the forms completely. Keep the cards small and simple – large-sized papers remind guests of work and intimidate them.
Manage your data. Categorize your customers based on frequency and revenue. Labels could be as simple as Market A (Biggest Spenders, or Most-Frequent Customers), Market B or and Market C. You need this so you will know your VIPs and give them the necessary attention, as well as work hard that those in Market B will soon rise to A Level and those in Market C can soon climb up to Market B.
Communicate to your customers by mail. Be it email or snail-mail, you can build goodwill to your customers by sending birthday or anniversary greetings, promotional coupons or latest updates of your restaurant. Better yet, you can send birthday or anniversary gifts in the form of gift cheques that would entice them to come to your place and celebrate.
Use your data to attract specific profiles to your restaurant. Maximize the use of your customer data as an effective way to increase your restaurant sales. You can invite those in your list to a Couple’s Evening, a Ladies’ Night, or a Family Weekend.
Third, attract more new customers.
Advertise. If you have enough funds to back it up, advertise. Many successful businesses understand the power of advertising, believing that it is an investment that would eventually return in more ways than one.
Market your restaurant. Creating a strong online presence, direct mailing, getting good press and hosting events are some of the best ways to increase your marketing efforts for your restaurant, which are discussed in a separate article.
Invite people! People love sincere and genuine invitations from restaurant owners or managers. “Hi, I’m Stacy, the owner of The Tavern just around the corner. I heard your coach is celebrating his birthday this Saturday, why don’t you give him a surprise party at our place? Your appetizers shall be on me.”