There are only three ways to increase sales in your restaurant or bar. I know what you’re thinking. There are more than three. Well, that might be true, but I’ve grouped them under these three ways to give you a framework for thinking it through.
The three ways are:
- Attract new guests
- Increase guest frequency
- Increase the average check per visit
Seems easy right? It is easy, but it’s not that simple.
Let’s dive into each one and the strategies to help you accomplish each of these objectives.
1. Attract new guests
I don’t care how old your restaurant is, there are always opportunities to attract new guests into your restaurant or bar. The good news is there are always new people are always moving into your area. New housing brings new people to the area. Have you seen some new home developments pop up recently? New homes, townhomes, apartment complexes? Chances are, yes. And sadly, there are probably people who have lived in your area who have never even visited your restaurant, despite how long you’ve been there.
Strategies that work to attract new guests include:
Facebook and Instagram advertising. Chances are you’ve tried a few boosted posts – which I don’t recommend. (See article on this here). You have to leverage the incredibly powerful ad platform called Power Editor that Facebook has to reach your customers, in hyper-targeted ways. For example, you can target people on Facebook who have a birthday coming up in the next 7 days, you can target people who buy catering, those with upcoming anniversaries, BBQ lovers, newly engaged couples, craft beer enthusiasts, people in a particular income bracket or who have expense purchasing behavior and more. Instagram is now part of the FB ad platform, and the engagement rate on Instagram is second to none. If you don’t have an engaged presence on these two platforms, you’re missing out on the most potent way to attract new guests.
2. Increase guest frequency
Getting guests to come back to your restaurant, again and again (and more often) requires a separate mindset and strategy from attracting new guests. It starts with great food and great service. We all know that. I’m assuming that’s a priority for you and something you take seriously. Keep the bathrooms clean too, people stay away sometimes just because they know the bathrooms aren’t pleasant. And the great food and service won’t take precedence. I’m assuming you have your priorities straight and it’s time to get smarter at marketing to guests who have had a good experience. We don’t just want them to come back, we want them to come back more frequently.
Strategies that work to increase guest frequency include:
Wi-Fi marketing, Email marketing, SMS (Text) marketing, Facebook, Instagram. Wi-Fi marketing companies, like Zenreach, have taken off this past year because of their innovative Wi-Fi marketing solutions that tie in email and SMS into their platforms, all of which help retain guests and increase guest frequency.
If you aren’t adding hundreds of emails to your restaurant email database (through creative social media marketing campaigns and in-house promos to get emails) then you are missing out on a major piece of the retention puzzle. And SMS, Text marketing? Well, keep in mind that the Gen Y and Z prefer text over email…so, what are you waiting on?
Keep in mind, having these tools are great, but if you don’t have a good Wi-Fi, Email and SMS strategy, your retention won’t be what it should be and your frequency won’t increase like it could if you had one. I’ve seen restaurants invest in these tools, and then they don’t know how to maximize them to get results. That doesn’t increase sales.
What about Facebook and Instagram? Of course, it’s powerful for keeping in front of fans and existing guests as well. If you have an email list (and you should), you can also upload your email list to Facebook and market to those guests – which can help increase guest frequency as well. Facebook Live video and Instagram stories should also be part of your marketing mix and retention strategy – and if you don’t know what these are or how to use them you are already being left behind.
3. Increase the average check per visit
Yes, you could raise your menu prices. That’s one way, but there are other ways as you already know. I’m often surprised how many restaurant owners and general managers don’t leverage the time they have with the guest while they are in the store, ordering food and drink.
Strategies that work to increase the average check include:
In-house promotions and server training. This one is on you. Having great in-house promotions and specials (that they learn about when they visit) can consistently increase the size of the check. But, often times it’s just a matter of training your staff on how to gently, yet persuasively, up-sell guests. “In addition to starting you off with drinks, what appetizer can I start you off with this evening? Can I recommend the Pig Pen Nachos? They’re a guest favorite here!” This presupposes the sale, it’s not a question of “Can I start you out with some appetizers…” which is a yes/no question, it’s asking which one they want to start out with. Sometimes the smallest adjustment in your language can make all the difference in a sale.
Example: “In addition to starting you off with drinks, what appetizer can I start you off with this evening? Can I recommend the Pig Pen Nachos? They’re a guest favorite here!” This presupposes the sale, it’s not a question of “Can I start you out with some appetizers…” which is a yes/no question, it’s asking which one they want to start out with. Sometimes the smallest adjustment in your language can make all the difference in a sale.
And of course, don’t forget to ask which dessert they want to end their dinner with.
Remember to plan
I’m consistently surprised and shocked how many restaurant owners don’t have a marketing plan, let alone a digital marketing plan. Social media and the other strategies discussed here are all very real ways to get results and increase sales. Unfortunately, if you are failing to plan, you’re really just planning to fail.
If all of this seems a little overwhelming, let us know, we’re here to help. We’ll work through a strategy for you in a complimentary 45-minute strategy session. You’ll come out of it knowing exactly what you need to do, to grow your sales in your restaurant.