Running a restaurant is a tough business. The profit margins are quite thin and unfortunately, many new restaurants fail every year. There are even TV shows about it! So how do you keep your restaurant from failing? The top goal, of course, is to get as many people into your restaurant as you can. The more regular customers you have, the better your chances are to keep a consistent profit flow. In this blog, we give you tips on how to increase your restaurant sales, both offline and online.
Ask For Referrals
Your best advertising will always be your existing customers. If they’ve had a good time after a meal, encourage them to tell their friends and neighbors about it. It may be best to have the manager on duty do this task, as it may seem forced if a server does it. It has to sound like a sincere ask in order to inspire diners to spread the word. Most managers are quite happy when they see customers having a good time, so this may be easier than you think!
Some restaurants even encourage guests to leave a positive online review; this helps to boost your online reputation to entice new customers at a larger scale.
Increase Table Turnover
Table turnover is a delicate balancing act. You want to get your guests in and out as quickly as possible, but you never want them to feel rushed either. Increasing table turnover is more of a matter of making everything before and after the meal as efficient as possible. This may mean pre-assigning guests to tables, improving server speed, dropping checks off early at the table, and using a menu that doesn’t require lengthy explanation.
If a table is just taking too long because of the customers, offer them a free drink in exchange for freeing up the table. The loss on the free drink should be more than made up for by the extra covers.
Can They Find You?
One of the most useful tools in a restaurant’s advertising arsenal these days your their online and mobile presence. If you can’t be found easily online, hungry customers will go somewhere else to eat. Take a look at your search engine optimization. Check the following:
Are you registered for Google My Business and Bing Places?
Do you have a website that shows your location, menu, hours, and directions to your restaurant?
Are you registered and active on review sites like Yelp?
Does your website look impressive on mobile devices?
Hiring an SEO services company for a few months to work on your basic SEO can make a huge difference in your visibility.
You should also consider online menu management and how it can benefit your business. Companies like SinglePlatform get your menu in the places that matter online so you can be found by hungry diners searching for specific menu items or local businesses.
Social media is now the second-best way of interacting with your customers and engaging the audience of your own. Facebook and Instagram are the platforms best for this. The point is to get a good conversation going with your customers so they’ll remember your restaurant and want to keep in the loop of what’s going on.
This means that you’ll want to post about topics like the latest specials, weekly events, and other goings-on at the restaurant. Photos of popular meals are always a good idea. When someone responds to a post, strike up a conversation and thank them for their interest.
As part of your referrals talk by your manager, you can also encourage people to like or follow you on your social platforms. This is crucial, as a low-traffic social media page doesn’t do much to grow your influence. The more people you can get to show their appreciation, the better.
Online Ordering And Delivery
Offering online ordering and food delivery is the new darling of the restaurant world. People love the ability to order a meal from their phone and pick it up on the way home or have it delivered. You don’t have to worry about filling a seat, just a to-go container.
To accomplish this goal, restaurants are using third-party delivery services, like GrubHub and DoorDash, that let them do deliveries without having to hire additional workers or get a company vehicle. Rideshare companies like Uber are also getting in on this. If there is a demand for delivery in your area, you might consider this as well.
Online ordering may not be appropriate for a fine-dining restaurant, but for that kind of a restaurant you might consider a mobile reservation system. This technology makes it easy for people to make a dining decision the moment hunger strikes.
As a new restaurant, there are plenty of things you can do, both offline and online, to increase sales. All of the tips mentioned above will help to build a stronger presence for your restaurant in your community. Of course, once you bring new customers in, you have to impress them! Do your best to provide great food, an inviting atmosphere, and top notch customer service. By putting in the effort, you’ll be rewarded with higher profits.
About the Author: Chris Hickman is the Founder and CEO at Adficient with 15 years of experience in search marketing and conversion optimization. Since 2006, he founded GetBackonGoogle.com, helping businesses and websites suspended in Adwords to Get Back on Google