How to increase restaurant sales: 13 practical ideas
Some say that sales cure all; others dispute that statement. But one thing is certain: driving more purchases never hurts. This is especially true in the restaurant industry, where many factors can cause revenue to fluctuate. Not sure how to increase restaurant sales? Looking for new sources of inspiration? In this post, we’ll introduce 13 practical ideas you can try in your business.
What is the best way to increase restaurant sales?
There is no single best way to increase restaurant sales. You can use a range of strategies to attract customers and strengthen your bottom line. To find the right one for you, first consider the following factors:
What is most likely to resonate with the people in your target market? How are other restaurants in the area currently reaching those people?
What can your team realistically handle? Are there strategies you can use that align with their strengths and skills?
Do you have a marketing budget, or will you only use methods without associated costs?
Having answers to these questions at the outset will make it easier to decide which tactics are the right fit for your business.
Ways to increase restaurant sales
What works for one restaurant might not be the right solution for another. Experiment with the ideas on this list and see if you’re able to make a meaningful impact against your revenue goals.
1. Run specials
It may seem counterintuitive to run specials or deals to increase restaurant sales, but this tactic has proven results. According to Valassis data from 2019, coupon users actually visit restaurants more than their counterparts. The same research shows that customers who leverage coupons eat out 7 times per month on average, compared with non-coupon users, who do so about 5 times per month.
There’s a lot of flexibility in how to make this idea work for you. For example, you could run a special to provide a discount on certain items, offer a BOGO (buy one get one free) deal, or create a new menu item available for a limited time.
2. Optimize your menu
A good menu will be easy for customers to read and order from. First, make sure your menu is visually attractive by choosing images, fonts, and colors that appeal to your customers. Then consider how you might organize your menu to draw attention to your biggest sales drivers or highest-margin items.
Treat your menu like a living, breathing document. Update your offerings or design regularly to draw attention to new items and give your customers a reason to keep coming back.
3. Suggest complementary items
Provide suggestions for items that pair well together. One common tactic is to suggest a drink pairing with a main dish for an added cost. This is a win-win. Customers enjoy a mouthwatering experience, and you benefit from a higher check total.
Be sure to train your staff to suggest these offerings as well. Having a conversation about the pairing may go further toward persuading the customer than simply including it as an option on your menu.
4. Upsell add-ons
Like complementary items, you can upsell add-ons that make for a more complete meal. Most often, these add-ons could take the form of an appetizer, a dessert, a side dish, or even a premium topping.
For example, if a customer orders an entrée, you could offer them the option to add soup or salad for a few dollars more. These items often don’t cost a lot for you to make, and selling them more frequently can lead to a noticeable increase in your bottom line.
5. Leverage your street-facing real estate
Your restaurant location doesn’t just have to cater to the people who already know about your business. Encourage new sales by using your space in different ways. Here are a few ideas that can give your brick-and-mortar spaces more selling power:
- Place a QR code with an online menu on a street-facing window to drive orders
- Set up a stand outside with grab-and-go items for purchase
- Design signage that shows off promotions or new seasonal items
- Offer small samples for passersby
6. Use social media
Posting on social media gives you an opportunity to expand your reach to new audiences. In fact, according to the 2018 Chatter Matters Word of Mouth Report, Gen Z and millennial customers are 99% more likely to use social media to determine their restaurant choice than Gen Xers and baby boomers.
You can design and share content on different platforms to promote your restaurant. For example, you can use a Facebook page to announce new menu items, schedule changes, and upcoming events. If you want to post photos of your menu items or behind-the-scenes content, consider focusing on Instagram or TikTok. You can also create an Instagrammable place in your restaurant to encourage pictures, increasing the chances that customers will share content with their followers.
7. Experiment with ads
Ad targeting on search engines and social media platforms is becoming more advanced and can allow you to nudge audiences who have high buying potential toward a sale. Depending on the platform you use, you may be able to create custom audiences of people who browsed your website, visited a specific page, or even filled their cart with certain items. From there, you can tailor ad creatives to align with products that piqued a customer’s interest and entice a final purchase decision.
Additionally, if you decide to use a delivery platform, you may be able to place ads on the platform’s website or app. Using a platform like this gets you in front of customers with high order intent—they are looking for their next meal, after all—and ads can help encourage more of them to choose your business.
8. Invest time in SEO
Search engine optimization (SEO) makes your website more visible in search engines like Google, which can help drive more clicks and page visits. Milestone Research data from 2021 shows that local and organic search together bring in nearly 70% of all website traffic.This has important sales-driving potential.
SEO strategies—such as optimizing your web pages, creating blog content, and encouraging other online publications to link back to your site—are low-cost ways to give your website more authority and meet your customers with information they’re seeking. You can then translate any traffic that results from your higher search ranking into direct sales by adding an online ordering solution to your website.
9. Start a loyalty program
Building a loyal customer base is a key component of a thriving restaurant. That’s why, according to PYMNTS and Paytronix’s 2022 Restaurant Friction Index, 57% of restaurants offer rewards and loyalty programs. These efforts pay off because 41% of customers say loyalty programs encourage them to buy from restaurants.
10. Tap into moments that matter
Show guests you appreciate their business by sending deals their way based on current events, preferences, or milestones. Here are a few examples of offers you can send to your guests:
- For special occasions: Give customers a free menu item on their birthday to encourage them to have a meal at your location.
- On specific items: If you’re taking note of customers’ favorite items, send them a personalized discount to increase the chances that they’ll come in.
- For theme days: Does an item on your menu have its own day? Leverage dates like National Pizza Day or Taco Tuesday to boost sales.
11. Host an event
Some customers may need extra encouragement to visit a restaurant in person. By hosting an event, you can give them more of a reason to come.
For example, if you host an event around a big game in your area, you could offer a small discount when customers come in wearing attire that supports the team. The savings can attract more guests and boost sales in the process.
12. Use local promotion opportunities
Many of your best customers may be just around the corner. They might simply need an extra nudge to discover or order from your business. Here are a few ways you can capture the attention of people in your community:
- Offer coupons for free or discounted items at other local businesses
- Include a small gift card to your restaurant in a local raffle or contest
- Send direct mail featuring discounts to potential customers
13. Partner with a third-party delivery platform
Using a third-party delivery platform is another way to expand your reach and develop a new revenue channel for your business. Some providers even offer built-in marketing solutions to help you reach more people and increase sales.
Ready to increase your restaurant sales?
Now it’s your turn to see what will work best for your business. Do some research to find out what will resonate most with the customers you want to reach. Then experiment with an idea from the list above. From there, track your results to find what’s most effective for increasing restaurant sales.
How to increase restaurant sales with Uber Eats
If you determine that working with a third-party delivery platform is a strategy you want to try, you’ll have to work your way through a signup and activation process before you can start taking orders.
At Uber Eats, we’ve designed this to be as simple as possible. To kick-start the process, we’ll ask you to tell us a little about your business so that we can confirm your identity and license. Then you’ll select a pricing plan that aligns with the goals you’re trying to reach. After you input the necessary information and your credentials are confirmed, you can start accepting orders.
In addition to gaining visibility from new customers on the Uber Eats app, you can also tap into a suite of tools that we’ve designed to boost your sales even further. Make Uber Eats work harder for your business by experimenting with additional features at your fingertips, including:
Marketing suite: Set up ads and promotional offers to get in front of customers and encourage them to order.
Webshop: Convert website and social channel traffic into sales with an online ordering solution for delivery and pickup.
Stories: Make your voice heard to new potential customers by sharing an announcement about new items, promotions, or business updates right from your storefront.
Instagram integration: Spotlight popular menu items directly from your Instagram feed. And infuse your Uber Eats storefront with a bit of your own creative flair to help turn heads and boost sales.
For more tips, tricks, and best practices to get the most out of Uber Eats, take one of our self-guided Merchant Academy lessons.
Frequently asked questions
- How can Uber Eats help my restaurant grow?
Working with Uber Eats, restaurants have access to a suite of tools that can help:
Attract new customers: Gain more visibility and increase sales by tapping into a customer base of millions of people who use Uber’s platform for on-demand rides and delivery.
Turn customers into regulars: Keep customers coming back by engaging with them through reviews sending them special offers, and leveraging insights to understand what they love.
Streamline operations: Accept and manage orders with ease, monitor your performance, and streamline online delivery without disrupting operations.
- How does Uber Eats work with restaurants?
We offer various ways that restaurants can work with us to reach new customers and generate sales, including:
Flexible pricing plans you can choose from based on your business’s goals
Multiple fulfillment options—such as pickup or self-delivery—to give you control over how customers receive items from you
A variety of additional services outside of the Uber Eats app, such as online ordering and white-label delivery, to take your business further
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