With more than 1 million restaurants in the U.S., it can be difficult to compete for business and retain loyal customers. To grow your restaurant and increase profits, there are several elements to consider, such as staff, food, marketing, finances and customer experience.
Restaurant success can be a challenge, but it can be achieved if you’re committed and open to feedback. Here are 10 strategies to help you increase your profits and achieve success.
1. Do your research.
Owning a restaurant is extremely challenging. Between managing employees, balancing finances, implementing marketing campaigns and pleasing customers, you have to do it all – and no one can be an expert on everything. If you’re ready to expand your restaurant, taking time to conduct research will help guide you in the direction you’re trying to go.
Regularly reading restaurant management blogs will give you keen insight from industry professionals on best practices for running your restaurant efficiently. With so many resources available at your fingertips, you can educate yourself on restaurant management practices that can help you save money on costs and increase your profits.
2. Cut down on food waste.
We’re all guilty of it, even at home. America is the leading country for food waste, adding up to billions of dollars each year. One strategy for increasing your profit margin is to focus on reducing food waste. Start by investing in a food waste tracker. These devices measure food and have a camera that monitors food waste so you can keep an eye on what’s being thrown away (and determine why). If you end the day with a food surplus, you can donate it to a food bank to receive a tax break.
Another way to cut down on food waste is to redesign your menu, focusing only on making what you do best. Here are some tips for creating an effective menu:
- Simplify. Don’t bombard your customers with too many options.
- Keep it short and sweet. Provide brief but detailed descriptions.
- Watch the market. Adjust your prices to include direct, indirect and volatile costs.
- Consider ingredients. Promote your most profitable items (those that use the least expensive ingredients).
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3. Use technology.
Incorporating modern systems into your restaurant business will increase your profits dramatically. If you’re disorganized, lose receipts and have a desk cluttered with paperwork, you may be throwing money out the window. A restaurant management system will help you keep track of sales, manage employees and create a rewards program or mailing list for your customers – and that’s just the beginning.
Again, food waste costs restaurants a ton of money. Restaurant inventory software will let you track every ingredient you use, whether it’s a teaspoon of spices, a diced carrot or an egg. With inventory software, you can also keep an eye on expiration dates so that your bread doesn’t get moldy and your milk doesn’t spoil.
Did you know? Restaurant POS software reduces errors and theft, speeds up service, and offers you a snapshot of your restaurant’s sales and performance.
4. Market your restaurant.
One of the best ways to attract customers to your restaurant and increase profits is through marketing. There are so many marketing techniques that can help you expand your business and attract the attention of customers you previously couldn’t reach.
If you want to increase your restaurant patronage and keep your regulars coming back, form a relationship with them. Social media marketing is a virtually free way to interact with customers and grow your brand. Utilize social media management apps that allow you to schedule when a post will go live and give you insight on the perfect time to upload your #foodpics so you can reach the largest audience.
Tip: Other ways to boost customer engagement with your restaurant include using push notifications to alert customers to special deals, starting an email marketing campaign, and recording client testimonials for future advertisements.
5. Consider food delivery options.
People love convenience. After a long day at work, the last thing we want to do is prepare a home-cooked meal or drive through heavy traffic to get a bite to eat. Food delivery services now act as taxis for food, so you don’t need to hire drivers or buy company vehicles to send food to “hangry” customers.
FYI: For a small commission, you can partner with an online ordering company like Grubhub to expand your business and grow your profits.
6. Make a good first impression.
A customer’s experience begins as soon as they reach your restaurant’s front door. Having welcoming staff at the door to greet them and get them situated can make a positive first impression. In addition, having staff thank customers on their way out may encourage them to return soon. Customers who feel welcomed and appreciated are more likely to generate positive reviews and recommend the restaurant to people they know. You want a customer’s first visit to be a good one.
7. Know your customers.
Sometimes the visions you have for menu items or specials are not aligned with what your customers are seeking. To create a successful menu that will generate profit, learn which meals customers want. Consider your restaurant’s location, which types of foods sell well in the area and what people are ordering the most from your current menu.
If you find that something isn’t selling well, try reworking the dish or creating new options. Customer survey data can provide valuable feedback. Additionally, have managers or waitstaff visit tables during service times and chat with customers about their opinions on certain dishes.
8. Establish a digital presence.
Many customers visit restaurant websites to get business hours, digital menus and contact information. In addition to a website, restaurants should create a social media presence to promote their restaurant and communicate with a broader audience.
Facebook, Instagram and TikTok are a few popular platforms that can attract and engage customers. Facebook is great for displaying business information such as address, hours and daily specials. Instagram and TikTok help businesses create engaging videos highlighting dish preparation, restaurant tours, and upcoming specials or events.
FYI: Other top online restaurant marketing sourcesf include Twitter, Yelp and Groupon.
9. Train your employees well.
A confident, knowledgeable staff will give customers an excellent impression of your business. Waitstaff should know your menu items, current specials and how the food is prepared. With firsthand menu knowledge, they can more easily give recommendations, answer questions and ensure customers are getting what they want.
Staff should learn how to talk to customers positively and upsell things like appetizers and drinks. In addition, they should be informed of any changes that are made or newly available items and deals.
10. Offer coupons, specials and loyalty rewards.
Rewarding loyal customers helps ensure they’ll stay with you long term. Offering a reward program, such as allowing them to earn points for each visit, can incentivize them to come back. After accumulating a certain number of points, they can exchange them for discounts or earn free items or meals.
Customer loyalty programs demonstrate that you value your patrons. To bring in new customers, consider offering coupons or daily specials to encourage them to stop in and experience your restaurant. Everyone loves discounted meals that taste great.
Boost your restaurant’s success.
Increasing your restaurant profits doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With so many resources readily available to you, you can soar past the competition and bring in more customers.
Technology has saved the day with easy-to-use and efficient point-of-sale systems, marketing tools, and online delivery services. Take matters into your own hands and utilize these resources to increase your restaurant’s profits.
Sean Peek contributed to the writing and research in this article.