Smart Solutions for Added Growth
You have done your homework and made careful decisions. Location? Check! Atmosphere? Check! Staff? Check! Delicious menu? Check! Yet even after all this hard work, your restaurant still isn’t seeing the sales you hoped. Why is that?
Maintaining growth in the restaurant business requires more than delicious food and an inviting design; it also means adopting specific and powerful sales strategies. Knowing the restaurant industry’s tried-and-true sales tricks will go a long way toward success.
In this article, we provide you with well-known strategies that boost your restaurant sales while also improving the customer experience for more repeat business. Some methods have been around a while, while others are new but have proven to boost sales. We provide you with a healthy mix of both.
How Can Restaurant Owners Increase Customer Sales?
Start at the Beginning
When customers sit down and your staff provides menus, does your staff adopt phrasing that makes customers comfortable while creating immediate purchases? A question like “Would you like a drink to start?” is an ideal way to begin the process while also giving your customers a chance to browse your menu offerings.
If your restaurant provides unique cocktails, wine, beer, or any other type of drink, this is the perfect time to mention them. Customers enjoy trying what’s unique in a location.
As they browse, have your staff highlight appetizers early on. They can use a phrase like, “To get you started, our first page has some of our famous appetizers!” Your staff should get in the habit of discussing them while taking any orders. Many times, appetizers are overlooked, even though yours may be unique and complement other menu items perfectly. Customers may also forgo appetizers if they are on a budget or are looking to save room for the main meal. To help with these barriers, your staff can even recommend an appetizer be split so as to not appear to upsell too strongly.
Follow the Leader
Many restaurant guests have a leader – especially in large groups. Take cues from him or her. If any food or drink recommendations are not well received, then don’t push. You and your wait staff want the leader on your side; after all, that person may have recommended your restaurant. This person is a valuable contact for repeat business.
The Specials of the Day
If you have more than one special of the day, keep descriptions brief. Many restaurant patrons find explanations awkward and become lost in too many details. As beautiful as your description is, they may not be ready for poetry. If descriptions become overwhelming, they may ignore them and defer to their standby selection or select another less-expensive option.
Train Your Staff on Your Menu Items
The more your staff learns the menu and samples menu items on a regular basis, the better they can describe and recommend menu items. Many questions come up from customers regarding an item’s taste and ingredients, and the more your staff knows, the more the customer can make intelligent decisions they will later appreciate.
As a bonus, your wait staff can also suggest other items such as appetizers, drinks, and desserts to complement the taste of a meal, deepening the customer’s restaurant experience.
Inquire About Additional Cocktails
Drinks are a healthy addition to your profit. If a glass is close to empty, your staff should ask if they can bring a new one even when the meal is nearly over or when it’s time for dessert. After one cocktail, customers who are enjoying themselves are more prone to order another one.
Your Staff’s Job Isn’t Over
Instead of your staff immediately bringing the check, have them bring the dessert menu and offer coffee or tea. Even if dessert is declined at first, customers often change their minds after glancing at selections – especially if there are samples or photos. When it comes to couples, one person may want a dessert more than the other, so be sure to bring a dessert menu for each person at the table. That person may order, or the couple may split an item.
As is true for any business, existing customers are the easiest sell, so it never hurts to bring over the menu for that final upsell. If they are a fan of your restaurant, they will appreciate knowing what else you have to offer. If a dessert is new to the menu, be sure to highlight it.
Automatic Reminders to Staff
With upselling, timing is key, but your wait staff works hard and can’t remember everything. POS systems can remind servers of the day’s specials and prompt them to mention appetizers, check cocktails, and offer desserts when the timing is right. As a POS provider, BNG POS provides this service to many restaurant clients.
Pay Attention to Restaurant Trends
Today’s restaurant POS software systems also track activity data. You can chart sales by season, by day, and by the time of day. Use this information to your advantage. Summer may be a time for tropical drinks, salads, cold foods, and morning mimosas, while winter may be a time for hot food, desserts and coffees. By recognizing past trends, you can capitalize on them the next time around by offering a deeper selection of popular items or ensure your wait staff mention key items at the right time.
From quick-service restaurants to full-service restaurants with high-end fare, food establishments offering meal deals increase the volume of items sold. Offer special combinations of popular items to make ordering easy for customers. Consider lunch special meal kits featuring chips and a drink with a sandwich. Create special order combinations for large groups or full meals that include appetizers and dessert at a slightly lower price than usual. All of these options result in more food orders.
Provide Healthy Options
With more people becoming vegetarian, vegan, and plant-based every day, it’s a smart idea to have an option or two to cater to those tastes. It only expands your reach.
Show Your Appreciation for Repeat Customers
Keep customer order information in your POS system so any member of your staff can fulfill recurring special orders effortlessly. Today’s POS systems keep a customer database with order histories. If a customer prefers food prepared a certain way or wants a sauce on the side, he or she will be impressed when your staff knows ahead of time and caters to it automatically. This helps improve customer loyalty and adds to your profit. Forcing customers to repeat requests and wait for approvals turns happy customers into disgruntled customers.
Gain Repeat Customers with Strong Food Service and Customer Loyalty Programs
One Harvard Business study showed that increasing the number of repeat customers by 5% results in a minimum of 25% more sales – and as much as 125%!
For first-time customers, roll out the red carpet. Make them feel comfortable and ensure the meal is made perfectly. Keep them happy and make the experience personal, and then provide an incentive for them to return, such as a free pastry. Once they come back the second time, the habit is set.
Another method to gain loyal customers is to provide free items for a certain quantity of orders. Customers will be more inclined to return in order to get that free gift.
Today’s POS systems also let you print individual offers directly on receipts. Just like a loyalty card, you benefit from repeat visits, putting more money in your pocket.
Increase Your Table Turnover Rate
The more customers you have in a day, the more money you make, so finding ways to keep tables turning is an important profit initiative. The best way to do it without disturbing your customer is prompt service. Today’s POS systems allow for immediate ordering to the kitchen by wait staff or, if it fits your business model, by customers themselves using a table-side ordering system. Both options alleviate the need to repeatedly input orders, speeding up orders and reducing errors.
These systems also provide immediate updates on stock, letting servers or customers know an item is not available right on their device without wasting the customer’s time by having to return and retake an order.
Combined with portable print capabilities, automatic check splitting, and capabilities of taking most types of payment, your staff can help customers get in and out, resulting in more orders to the kitchen while improving service to customers.
Gain Clarity on Your Food and Labor Cost
Your POS system can also aid with a clearer understanding of food and labor costs. With each item accurately tabulated, you can adjust low-margin items and adjust selling prices to create a strong balance of demand and profit for an ideal food cost percentage.
You can even be notified when labor costs exceed a certain threshold, such as 30%. Combined with hour-by-hour understandings of busy times of the day or year, you can schedule staff to ensure the right balance of strong customer service and healthy margins.
Upsell with Store Merchandise
You may have noticed that even small stores offer merchandise like t-shirts, hats, and mugs. Merchandise is an ideal way to maximize your sales-per-square-foot costs and also maintain a strong profit margin. The walls are there anyway, so you might as well make money off them.
Social Media Presence
Social media presence via free posts or social media ads show a more personal side to your restaurant that will do wonders for your business. This marketing strategy lets you showcase meals to whet the appetites of current and potential customers (Yes, “food porn” is a real thing!)
Your posts also act as an invitation to your restaurant, showcasing your ambiance, creativity, and personality. They are great for showcasing what you do best. If brunch is big at your restaurant, send a reminder when the time is right to keep your location top of mind. If new specials hit your menu, an eye-catching photo of the meal can help sell it and, in turn, promote you as a home for delicious meals.
Social media marketing can also help promote special events. If you have a special holiday meal or festivity, or a strong location for first dates, weddings, or casual family get-togethers, promote it. If you host fund-raising or charity events, let the world see your caring side.
These benefits can be shown as photos or dynamic videos across multiple social media platforms to reach the widest audience (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). One of the chief benefits of social media is that it is sharable, turning your customers into promoters. This is why posting highly shareable topics or videos is ideal.
Social media is a strong restaurant marketing strategy for any size business, so concentrate on your restaurant’s social media profile. Spend time developing a social media strategy or enlist the help of a professional. Making friends with a local food blogger is another great idea.
Improve Your Online Offerings
COVID-19, for all its chaos, has revealed the benefits and conveniences of online ordering that won’t go away anytime soon. People are now used to reviewing restaurant menus and making meal choices online before going to a restaurant. If you don’t offer home delivery, check out a company that does (GrubHub, Doordash, UberEats, Delivery.com, the list goes on.) These benefits make your restaurant valuable to more customers.
Post your menu online, offer an online ordering system, include your business on those popular apps, and improve your order pickup process. All this invites customers to order your food when they don’t want to get dressed and walk into the restaurant, resulting in more orders for you. Today’s POS systems can even push online orders directly to the kitchen staff for faster order taking, as well as inform customers if there is a delay and notify customers when an order is soon to be ready, helping keep orders from cluttering up the kitchen.
Online ordering usage has seen huge increases on mobile devices, so design your online presence to work easily with smartphones and tablets.
How an Experienced POS Provider can Aid Your Restaurant
Today’s restaurant POS software systems are designed to help you grow your business better than ever, and BNG POS has the staff and software to help with all of the above POS initiatives. We offer benefits such as online ordering, restaurant loyalty programs, table-side ordering, order tracking, profit reading, notifications for customers and restaurant staff, and clear readings of sales trends, just to name a few. And today’s systems offer a wealth of back-end data to provide clearer understandings of what you do well and where you need improvement while providing faster and easier ways for staff to take orders and improve overall customer service.
We have a depth of experience in the restaurant industry and regularly assist restaurant owners, operators, and managers to increase restaurant sales and maximize profits. When you are ready to take your sales to the next level, BNG POS is ready to help.
To learn more, contact us HERE.