How to start increasing restaurant sales

How to increase sales in a restaurant?

Restaurant sales are rarely steady. Seasonality, rivalry, the economy and many other factors will play a role in how many customers visit your restaurant. Yet one thing for restaurateurs is constant: no matter how much you sell, you still feel like you should do more to increase the restaurant sales.

Even restaurant companies with the most competition have potential to boost profits. In the past restaurant owners have assumed that the only way to boost restaurant profits was to pay for advertising. Although this still has the potential to reveal the brand to the public, it can also become a costly endeavor if you don’t succeed. 

In this article we will share with you the 5 basic tips that you need to follow in order to start increasing sales for your restaurant. Consider implementing these strategies in your business and you’ll be on your way to increased profitability!

  • Train your servers to sell more

  • Make your menu more profitable and increase your restaurant's average check

  • Leverage online marketing to increase sales

  • Diversify the services offered by your restaurant 

  • Use your existing customers to your advantage

Train your servers to sell more

No matter how great business your restaurant is doing, chances are you would still like to increase your restaurant sales. One of the easiest ways to do this is through restaurant upselling. Upselling means convincing customers to upgrade their current purchase or buy more items. Restaurant upselling is the most common strategy for restaurants to boost their profits.

A skilled server will be able to increase your restaurant’s sales with simple conversation. Effective upselling ultimately leaves the customer in control of their decision and doesn’t make them feel pressured to buy more. Rather, it will plant the seed that tempts them into ordering more than they may have originally intended. When it comes to teaching your staff these techniques, there are three main upselling tips to keep in mind:

1. Describe a menu item. The first opportunity to upsell comes shortly after guests are seated. Before drink orders are taken, encourage your servers to describe their favorite specialty drinks on the menu. Pointing out creative cocktails may entice a customer enough to try one, even if they had originally thought of having just water.

2. Assume your guests will want an entree. You can use the same technique as you did with the drinks. Servers can simply start describing items on the menu as a way to help customers think about trying one of those options. Another popular opportunity for upselling is to ask customers if they’d like to include an extra side with their meal. But if you charge extra for that side, be sure to mention it, so your guests aren’t confused when they get the bill.

3. Suggest more things to try. When everyone is finished with their entree, suggest that they try a dessert or after-dinner drinks. Again, naming off a few dessert options may tempt your customers to try one.

There’s even more opportunity to upsell if your server is speaking with a first-time customer because they will be eager to learn about your menu items. They’re also more likely to be interested in trying the server’s suggestions than a patron who has dined at your establishment many times.

Make your menu more profitable

Certain menu items and food prices in your restaurant may be keeping your sales lower than they could be. Maybe the menu item you think is the most profitable is actually too expensive in your customers’ eyes, or maybe it’s time to discontinue the dish that no one seems to be ordering. Think your pricing model may need an update? The only way to be sure is to start calculating restaurant performance metrics and strategically picking price points and menu offerings that will increase restaurant sales.

Leverage online marketing to improve sales

Social media

  • Create social media accounts. Similarly, try setting up social media accounts for your business and maintain an active online presence. If you don’t have time to monitor messages coming through your social networks, put one of your managers in charge of replying to inquiries.

  • Make announcements through social media. Another great thing about having a business account for social media is that you can make announcements for any events you may be hosting. You can use it to alert customers if your business is closed unexpectedly for a power outage or other unforeseen reason. Of course it’s also a perfect way to connect with your community and humanize your brand. Overall, you can use social media as a tool to accomplish many of the customer retention strategies mentioned above.

Sign up for Google My Business

Getting featured on Google will increase your reach, merely because it will be easier for your customers to find you on the internet. It will accentuate your customer experience if they see your restaurant on Google from where they can directly call or locate your restaurant on Google maps. In addition to this, the credibility of your restaurant to the customers is increased tenfold if you listen to Google.

Create your own website

Having a website available for your customers to browse your menu and make orders without having to rely on third-party apps has become a basic requirement for almost all food service businesses, but is the task of creating your own restaurant website as simple as it seems?

Then, after your website is up and running, you’ll have to remain committed to its success. Creating a successful online platform for your business has to be sustained through regular promotion and by keeping your menu and event schedule up to date (this can be done by integrating the restaurant point of sale system with your website). 

Diversify the services offered by your restaurant

Want customers to buy more? Offer them more ways for them to do it. Here are a few different revenue streams you should consider implementing at your restaurant:

- Hosting Events: You can organize comedy nights, karaoke nights, a guest performance, and can host various exciting events that will compel your customers to visit your restaurant on that particular day. Merely hosting will not be enough; you will have to market the game well so that the news of the event reaches maximum people. Hosting events will not just bring in your regulars, but also expose you to many potential customers who will not only increase your restaurant sales for the night but in the long run as well.

- Takeout options: Add a takeout menu so your guests can still be served when your dining room is full or when they’d rather spend the night in.

- Online ordering: Consider offering online ordering to allow your customers to order food from your website using their computers and phones. Third-party online ordering and delivery services like GrubHub and DoorDash charge commission fees on every order and can limit your ability to manage the online order experience. By hosting online ordering on your own website, you’ll give customers the ability to order food from your restaurant without having to pay a commission fee.

- Catering: If you can handle the volume, also consider offering catering services. 

Use your existing customers to your advantage

Your customers are one of the best tools to help you further increase your sales. Not only should you try to retain as many first-time customers as possible, but you should also strive to get involved in your community in order to become a respected and recognisable business in your neighborhood:

  1. Organize events. Something as simple as offering a space for community events, like company parties, can go a long way towards building a relationship with the community. Hosting weekly trivia encourages customers to come out to your bar on a weeknight. Booking live music is another great way to get customers to visit your business more regularly. Overall, organizing games or music helps people feel relaxed in your establishment and encourages them to stay longer and purchase more from your menu.

  2. Train your staff to seek out those first-timers. Ask them how they found out about you, and pull out the stops when it comes to service. A Harvard study of the restaurant industry revealed that if you can increase the number of repeat customers by 5%, you can increase your profits by 25% to 125%.

  3. Get their order just right. You only get one chance to make a good first impression. Greet them with a smile and confirm everything in their order is correct. If it’s a delivery order, double-check their bag before the delivery driver leaves.

  4. Get involved in the local community. Hosting a charity event for a cause you care about is a great way to give back to the community and customers will notice the extra effort. For example, choose a day where you donate 10% of your profits to a charity. You can advertise the event in advance so that customers will know to dine in your restaurant that day if they’d like to contribute to the cause. Hosting cooking classes, beer tastings, or anything that educates customers about your product is another great way to help the local community feel invested in your brand.

  5.  Once you identify a first-time customer, consider giving them an incentive (like a promo) on their next order. Getting them to come back a second time is critical to getting them hooked!


Samuel Novoa
Content Marketing Specialist, focused on creating relevant content for the food service industry, dedicated to helping all types of business improve customer loyalty and develop their corporate image

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