Everyone is keen to improve their restaurant sales although few are planning how they will achieve their financial goals. For years the restaurant industry has relied upon similar techniques to attract business, whilst sectors such as retail, music, film, publishing and travel have been adapting to advances in technology, changes to consumer lifestyle and the heightened demand for convenience.
The restaurant industry needs to modernise too, as continuing to rely on dated methods and complaining about how the market is changing isn’t going to help anything. In order to win in 2018 restaurateurs will need to stop relying on offers, walk-ins and publishers to attract customer spending and start to make use of the incredible sales and marketing opportunities that are at their fingertips to allow them to redefine every element of their operation to ensure they’re performing in an efficient, modern way.
Quick fire points of how you can improve your restaurant sales today…
Don’t Wait on Walk-ins
‘Let’s hope we have a good weekend’ is one of the stupidest things I hear every week… if restaurateurs got proactive and spent more time devising a strategy to actively sell tables, seats and tickets each week, the gamble of being busy would be more of a dead cert.
Ready? Get Tech, Go!
Technology is forever moving forwards, restaurants need to pay attention and get involved with advances that could work in their favour to strengthen their business. Here are a few examples:
Online Reservations – get reservation tools with marketing capabilities, that way it’s not just managing your diary and maximising turnaround times, it’ll be reaching new customers and selling tables via email, social, desktop and mobile search too.
Delivery Dining – extend your dining room cover capabilities by introducing delivery. With the huge increase in convenience spending and takeaway market exploding why wouldn’t restaurants join the party? Unfortunately, Fine Dining isn’t invited.
Customer Profiling –learning about customers is a sure-fire way to increase sales. Using data to dig into demographics, trends and spending patterns will add significant value, but why stop there, why not use your systems to remember more specifics about customers? It’ll improve service, make operations more efficient and really impress guests on the night.
EPOS –updating to a modern point of sale kit will really help save time and money; from remote cost control, ordering and integration, incentives and loyalty, to payroll and inventory control, these industry basics are vital for operators to manage.
Your Social Sucks
I live in Manchester, UK, where the food and drink industry is booming, although I can count on one hand the number of restaurants with quality, engaging social media who are doing it right, and as a result, cashing in. There are currently three types of restaurant social media…
Smart –brands with great creative, copy and personality, who are dedicating time and resources to structure their content, tell their story and engage with consumers. They are actively looking at metrics to improve results – even if reviewing analytics isn’t as frequent or in depth as it could be, at least they’re aware of its value.
Amateur – operators who have someone within the business, a bartender, BDM or manager, posting like it’s a personal account. Typically this results in infrequent messaging (‘because it got busy’ or they ‘forgot’), unprofessional phone photography and inspirational quotes, hashtags and boomerangs all over the place.
The positive being that they’re on SM, however if the outbound messaging isn’t on brand it’ll be putting people off rather than turning them on – it’s important to remember that social is capable of projecting to millions of people; it’s an equally quick way to damage a brand as it is to build one.
Non-existent – theses are the operators who aren’t on social media or who post infrequently over long periods of time. They can’t possibly understand how far behind they are, or the volume of brand awareness and sales they are missing out on. A jump in class from ‘non-existent’ to ‘smart’ would add %£ to their bottom-line quicker than anything else they could do this year.
Broken record selling is a real turn off for consumers; they don’t want food/drink offers and pictures taking up valuable space in their social feeds and inboxes every day. Restaurants need a story not a sales pitch. Get people engaged with your brand, your people and your culture, it’s what ultimately sets your restaurant apart from the competition.
Email Ain’t Dead
Email was the best direct consumer communication method until social media came around, but that doesn’t mean it’s dead. Mailing lists are extremely effective when executed correctly, besides not everyone has social media. Just make sure your message conveys your brand, not your desperation to sell.
Get Down with the Locals
Friendships, partnerships and collaborations with local people and businesses will create opportunities to sell product and build brand awareness. Bringing local people together to build meaningful relationships will provide the core foundations to build your business and improve sales in the long term.
Hostess with the Mostest
Hosting events and creating experiences currently provides the most value for both operators and consumers. Whether it’s a ticketed tasting experience or providing space for a community get-together, make sure you’re hosting strategically to get the most brand awareness, sales conversion, or combination of the two.
Enhancing a guest’s experience whilst improving your bottom line is a bit of a win-win. Tiering product upsells, pairing foods and training front of house teams to provide recommendations is a flawless strategy, providing your guests want to be sold to. It’s great for team motivation and incentives and provides an opportunity to try new products and increase knowledge.
Employing someone to look after business development can be pretty handy. Make sure you create clear, realistic targets and expectations for the role and don’t blur any lines; they’re not a receptionist or there to wait tables, you need them 100% committed to driving the business forwards, even if that means working off site where there are no distractions.
It Takes Time
Increasing sales, in the right way, takes time. You need to put in the work behind the scenes; get proactive, create a killer strategy, plan for distribution and conversion. It won’t happen overnight but the full price guests, demand for your products, and heighted brand popularity will make it worthwhile in the long run.