According to research from Cornell University, financial stress is one of the primary reasons why restaurants fail, which means that increasing sales is critical to running a successful restaurant. However, generating revenue is more challenging than ever for the foodservice industry because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to increase sales at your restaurant: 1) reach new customers, 2) influence existing customers to buy more frequently and 3) get customers to spend more. We’re sharing 20 of the best techniques for driving restaurant sales, organized into those three primary categories.
How to increase restaurant sales by reaching new customers
Here are several ideas to increase restaurant sales that involve spreading the word about your business to new customers.
1. Host a grand opening event to increase sales
If you’re opening a new restaurant, you need to let people know about it with a bang. Host a grand opening event in which you serve highlights from your menu.
Promote your grand opening on social media to reach potential guests, and invite the press and influencers to create buzz before, during and after the event.
In exchange for free entry, ask attendees to register for the event online. This way you’ll have their contact details in your customer relationship management (CRM) software and can send them targeted marketing messages to get them to come back.
2. Establish and optimize a social media presence
It’s just as important to connect with guests online as it is to connect with them in person. Create social media accounts for your restaurant on the most relevant social media channels: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. If you’re feeling creative, you can even experiment with TikTok.
Optimize your presence by linking to your direct reservations and online ordering landing pages in the bio or about section of your profiles. Post consistently, with high-quality photos, to keep your restaurant top of mind.
3. Focus on SEO to increase restaurant sales
Search engine optimization (SEO) can help your restaurant’s website appear at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) for its name and related keywords.
Ranking for unbranded keywords is just as important as ranking for your restaurant’s name. If, for example, you run an organic wine bar in New York City, and its website appears at the top of the SERP when someone searches “organic wine bars NYC,” that’s exposing your business to new guests.
While paying for Google Ads is one way to see your restaurant at the top of the SERP, this strategy can be expensive and stops working when you stop paying for the ads. Instead, focus on organic and local SEO, which involves creating content on your website that uses the keywords you want to rank for in a useful way and optimizing your Google My Business Listing.
4. Optimize your Google My Business Listing
Research shows that 92% of diners use search engines to find restaurants. By making the most of your restaurant’s Google My Business listing, you can drive guests who are searching for restaurants like yours to make a reservation, join your waitlist, or place an online order.
Google automatically adds third-party delivery and reservation platform links to your restaurant’s listing. After claiming your listing, you can add links to your direct ordering and reservations platforms, and designate your preferred links, which will help you save on third-party fees.
Add photos, menu links, and tags to your listing to make it easy for guests to discover and choose your restaurant over others.
5. Meet guests where they are
Using delivery and reservation marketplaces that your potential customers are already using can help expose your restaurant to new clientele. Just be aware that many third-party platforms charge fees, advertise your restaurant alongside the competition, and don’t let you access your customers’ data.
To mitigate these issues, convert third-party guests into direct customers. Create inserts for delivery orders that have coupon codes for customers’ first orders through your direct delivery and pickup platform. For third-party dine-in guests, create a check presenter insert that offers diners a discount on their next meal if they sign up for your newsletter. Then, send guests emails that explain the benefits of making direct reservations going forward.
6. Run digital ads to increase profits
Use social media ads and Google Ads to reach new customers online. Through ads on Facebook and Instagram, target people who live and work near your restaurant and whose demographics match your existing customers’.
Use Google Ads to reach potential customers who are searching for keywords related to your restaurant. For example, if you run a pizza restaurant in New York City, you could buy ads for the keywords “best pizza New York,” “NYC pizza” or “pizza restaurant New York City.”
7. Run traditional ads
You can also create and run traditional advertisements like TV commercials, radio commercials and magazine and newspaper ads. Traditional advertising tends to be more expensive than digital advertising, but can help you reach a wide audience.
How to increase restaurant sales by attracting repeat business
Follow these tips to learn how to boost restaurant sales by influencing existing customers to frequent your restaurant.
8. Send guests targeted offers
Marketing to existing customers is a piece of cake with marketing automation software. Software like SevenRooms can send targeted offers – like a “we miss you” message inviting guests to make a reservation – via email or SMS to customers who have already dined with you.
9. Cross-promote internally to increase sales
Drive repeat business by cross-selling delivery to your dine-in guests and booking a table to your delivery diners.
Encourage guests who always dine at your restaurant to order online by offering them a promo code for their first order. Set up an automated email campaign to take care of this for you.
Motivate pickup and delivery customers to make reservations by offering them upgrades via email, like a free champagne toast upon arrival, when they join you in-person.
10. Introduce online ordering
If you haven’t done so already, add an online ordering revenue stream to your business. However, don’t rely only on third-party delivery platforms, as they take steep commissions and don’t let you access your customer data.
With commission-free, direct online ordering, you can circumvent per-order fees, avoid missing phone orders and generate revenue from customers even when they don’t feel like dining in.
11. Implement a loyalty program to increase revenue
Implement a loyalty program that lets customers accumulate points for on-site and online orders and redeem points for free food, exclusive experiences and more.
How to boost restaurant sales by influencing customers to spend more
Follow these creative ideas to increase restaurant sales that involve convincing diners to spend more during each visit and order.
12. Sell reservation upgrades
Let guests pre-purchase birthday cakes, champagne toasts served upon arrival, flowers on the table and more through prepaid reservation upgrades. With SevenRooms, you can collect payment up front and secure extra revenue, and build these upgrades seamlessly into the booking experience so guests won’t even feel like you’re upselling them.
13. Add special experiences to the menu to increase sales
Push past the boundaries of traditional dining by offering guests experiences they won’t be able to resist or forget. Organize special experiences, like chef’s tables, packages that come with kitchen tours, dining with live jazz music and more, and make them available for a premium. Use your restaurant management software to easily sell and manage these unique experiences.
14. Offer prix fixe menus
Sell multiple courses as a prix fixe menu to encourage customers to spend more. Offer them year-round or for special occasions, such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.
15. Create takeout bundles
Create the takeout version of a prix fixe menu with takeout bundles for your online ordering customers. Offer multi-course bundles for takeout and delivery, or large-format family-style entrees that you can charge more for.
16. Make it bottomless to increase revenue
Offer bottomless or endless options – like bottomless coffee or mimosas, or endless fries or breadsticks – to let guests upgrade their meals. You can charge a premium for these additions, but guests will feel like they’re getting a great deal, even if they don’t end up consuming as much as they think they will.
17. Upsell add-ons
Boost incremental revenue by upselling add-ons to dine-in and online orders.
Train your front-of-house (FOH) staff to recommend drinks, appetizers, desserts, and side dishes. At quick service restaurants, upselling could entail asking guests if they would like to upgrade from a small drink to a large drink.
For delivery and pickup orders, configure your online ordering platform to suggest add-ons that complement the items already in the cart.
18. Cross-promote your entire portfolio
If you run multiple restaurants, make sure that your guests know about every venue in your portfolio, so that you can be part of more of their dining-out or ordering-in occasions. Create an automated marketing campaign that lets guests know where else they can enjoy your restaurant group’s hospitality and incentivizes them to book tables or place orders.
19. Make personalized recommendations to increase profits
When you know your guests, and know their order history, you can make personalized recommendations that drive profits.
Let’s say you have a guest who always orders a $75 bottle of wine. When you know this about your guest, your staff can start recommendations at that price level and go up from there.
Use your CRM to track guest data and use it to your advantage.
20. Sell merchandise
Our final tip for how to increase restaurant sales is to sell merch. Create merchandise featuring your restaurant’s branding. You can sell t-shirts, water bottles, aprons, cookbooks and even canned versions of your famous sauce; the sky’s the limit. Sell merchandise at your restaurant and online as an add-on to a takeout order.
Pro tip: Add ecommerce capabilities to your website to let customers purchase merchandise even if they aren’t within your food delivery range.
Wrapping up: How to increase restaurant sales
By reaching new customers and influencing existing guests to spend more and more frequently, you’ll see restaurant sales go up. For best results, use a combination of the strategies we shared, and leverage SevenRooms to streamline your efforts. Book a demo today.
FAQs about increasing restaurant sales:
1. How do you promote a grand opening on social media?
The best way to promote a grand opening through social media is through images, promotions, paid and organic social postings and hashtags. Creating timely and relevant content with high-quality images is a great way to captivate your audience. Using three hashtags per post is a best practice to follow while posting about your event.
2. What are some restaurant promotion strategies that encourage more customer spending?
One restaurant promotion strategy for boosting revenue is selling reservation upgrades by letting guests pre-purchase birthday cakes or champagne toasts served upon arrival. Another tactic is to create takeout bundles, featuring multiple courses and family-style entrees, to influence your online ordering customers to spend more.