If you own a restaurant or coffee shop, you're no doubt looking for new ways to generate more sales. After all, profits are what drives your business. This is why we've put together these proven strategies for getting more customers. You'll learn the secrets to attracting and retaining repeat customers, new ways to up-sell and cross-sell your products and services, and valuable tips on how you can keep more of the profits coming in each night (or morning!).
Make your restaurant or coffee shop more user friendly
The sales at your restaurant are flat. How can you fix this? One popular approach is to be more user friendly. To make your restaurant more attractive to customers, so they keep coming back. The model for this is Starbucks. They have a very user friendly approach. You can ask for anything you want, and they will give it to you. This doesn't cost them much, since they always make the drinks with the highest margin anyway; how much extra do they lose if you order an espresso instead of a cappuccino? (And customer loyalty is very valuable, because it allows them to raise prices.) If you offer more choices to your customers, they may be happier -- but they will also take up more of your time, leaving less time to work with each customer on increasing the size of their order. And if you don't make money on those marginal orders anyway… You can't make people like your restaurant or coffee shop if you don't understand what they like. Some of these problems may be obvious: prices too high, food too bland, service too slow, or a bad location. And some may not be: maybe the decor is off-putting or the employees seem unhappy or the bathrooms are dirty. If you want to increase sales, you must take steps to solve these problems. But you have to know which ones are causing the problem before you can solve them. Then, for example, if your restaurant is in a bad location and the decor makes it look grubby even when it isn't, you can move and spruce up the interior.
Upsell like there is no tomorrow
Upselling is the art of adding a little extra to the experience of buying something, so that when the buyer goes away, she feels like she has gotten more than she expected. It's not about selling more; it's about selling better. It's not about getting people to spend more; it's about getting them to feel like they got more for what they spent. How do you upsell in restaurants? The simplest way is by providing superior service. Give your best, most charming waiter to the table with the highest bill; offer free desserts or cocktails or coffee or mints; make sure everyone who works there knows you are proud of your service and want them to give it their all. And for goodness' sake, make sure your restaurant actually has good service before you let anyone know that you care about it! Taco Bell has a late-night menu called "Fourth Meal," promoted in ads like "It's not breakfast, it's not lunch, and it's not dinner. It's the Fourth Meal." Taco Bell wants you to think that you're hungry in a way that is different from all the times in between breakfast, lunch and dinner. The idea is that there are three main meals in a day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. A fourth meal would be some kind of snack or dessert, which they offer with their "Fourth Meal" menu. If you buy into the concept of a Fourth Meal, then Taco Bell becomes top of mind for something you might want to eat at 2am. An upsell is an offer for a product or service that gives customers more value than they were expecting. Offering an upsell is an effective way to boost revenue on every sale because customers are likely to purchase additional products when presented with them.
Encourage customers to order appetizers
There is a great deal of research about how to increase restaurant sales. Much of it confirms the conventional wisdom: put more waiters on the floor, have them introduce themselves with a personal handshake, etc. The one finding that seems truly novel is that if your restaurant encourages its customers to order appetizers, their total bill will be higher. People who would otherwise have been satisfied with a main course now order an appetizer as well. In an ideal world, every customer would just order what he really wanted. In the real world, people who aren't quite hungry enough for a full meal sometimes stop by a restaurant on their way home from work just because it's there. Encouraging them to order more than they really want increases the total sales of food at your restaurant.
Identify your target customer and deliver what they want
Your restaurant will have a target customer. If you have a sushi restaurant, for example, your target customer is going to be someone who wants to eat sushi. You will not get far trying to attract everyone in the area. Your customers are not better or worse than other customers; they are just different. And it is not their job to like you; it is your job to like them. If you make customers like you, you might get some of them as regulars. But that's not the same as focusing on the people actually likely to buy from you, and then giving them what they want. It's an old joke that McDonald's sells burgers to nine-year-old boys. That is because nine-year-old boys like burgers. But it is not because nine-year-old boys are the only people who eat at McDonald's; everyone eats at McDonald's. The idea that there is someone for whom a product is intended, and only that person will buy it, is not true. Unless you are making handcrafted items like handcrafted shoes or handmade jewelry, your customers will be nearly everyone (and if your product is good enough, even people who don't need it). Beware of falling into the trap of delivering what you want instead of what your customers want. If you are making things for yourself, you will probably succeed in some narrow field, but you won't get rich.
You say that you are seeing good sales. That is great! You must be getting out there and spreading the word, right? No, wrong. The fact is, restaurants are not growing due to the current menu offerings. If you want your restaurant to grow, you need to do more than just serve good food. You need to market your restaurant effectively. If this seems like too much work, or if it makes you feel like you are giving away something that could otherwise be sold, then keep in mind that when it comes to restaurants, marketing is an investment, not an expense. If you want your restaurant to grow, spend money on marketing. After all, it is better to try and fail than never to try at all. If your restaurant does not attract enough customers after investing in marketing strategies, then consider revising your business plan. But if your restaurant does attract enough customers after you invest in marketing strategies, then consider revising your business plan so that it relies less on ad spend and more on what matters: the quality of the food itself.