Finance & Operations

How to Increase Restaurant Sales: 14 Tips & Strategies

By Katherine Pendrill

Latin American man making a contacless payment to the waitress at a restaurant using his cell phone

As a restaurateur, you already know that this industry has thin profit margins – especially nowadays due to rising food costs. So, a jump in your sales could make a big difference to your bottom line. That just leaves one big question: how to increase restaurant sales?

There are lots of different ways to give your sales a lift beyond just upselling, although it’s a great option! In this guide on how to increase sales in a restaurant, we’ll cover:

  • How to boost restaurant sales in-venue
  • Ways to drive more takeout sales
  • Ideas for attracting new customers to grow sales
  • Tips for generating repeat business (and more sales!)

Let’s dive in.

How to Increase Restaurant Sales In-Venue

1. Optimize Your Menu

Did you know that your menu design can influence your restaurant sales? It’s true, and it’s known as menu engineering.

This suggestive selling technique highlights your most profitable dishes using design elements like a slightly larger font or a colorful box, interesting sketch, or mouth-watering photo to call out particular menu items. In the same way, you can also draw attention to add-ons using menu engineering.

The result? A higher average transaction size and greater total sales. In fact, menu engineering can help you grow your sales by up to 15%.

Here’s an example of how the popular Asian restaurant chain P. F. Chang’s features select cocktails on its menu with appealing photography.

P. F. Chang’s restaurant menu highlighting several cocktail specials.

[Image Source]

2. Upsell with Upgrades and Add-Ons

Restaurant upselling is a tried-and-true sales tactic that involves suggesting an upgrade or add-on to your guest, either by listing the recommended add-on directly on your menu or by a server mentioning it to the customer when taking their order.

Knowing how to upsell is a critical skill for your front-of-house staff – and luckily, it’s easy to master. Upselling can be as simple as offering a side of gravy with a steak sandwich and fries. 

When you’re considering how to increase restaurant sales, upselling is a must-do. This technique can boost your sales by up to 30%.

The best part? Your POS can do the hard work for you when it comes to implementing an upsell strategy. You can use this essential piece of restaurant tech to identify your most popular menu items (hello, housemade burger!) then add a prompt to remind your servers to recommend add-ons for an extra cost (hello, bacon!). You can even run an upselling competition among your staff and use your POS to keep track of their scores. There’s nothing like some friendly rivalry to drive results.

3. Cross-Sell with Complementary Items

Similar to upselling, cross-selling enables you to get creative by offering your guest a different, but complementary, item in addition to what they’ve already decided to order. For example, you might suggest a glass of white wine with their seafood pasta.

Cross-selling is a perfect way to show your customers that your staff are educated on your menu, and that they’re happy to help make personalized recommendations so each meal will be full of delicious, complementary flavors. That’s a whole lot better than promoting your chicken wrap to every guest who walks through the door just because it happens to be a best seller!

When it comes to knowing how to increase sales in a restaurant, cross-selling is a no-brainer, since it can drive your sales up by 20%.

4. Run an In-House Only Promotion

One sure-fire way to make more sales in-house is to run a promotion that’s only available if your guests dine at your restaurant (rather than ordering takeout or delivery).

For example, you could offer guests a free dessert with their entrée if they dine at your venue from 5 p.m. onward from Monday to Wednesday. This is also a smart move if your restaurant tends to be slow on certain weeknights.

Deals aren’t the only kind of promotion you can use to get customers in the door. You could throw an end-of-summer patio party to attract more foot traffic to your restaurant (and generate more sales!)

5. Go the Extra Mile for Your Guests

Forget about sales “tricks” – good old-fashioned customer service is what you should be focused on when you’re wondering how to boost restaurant sales. 

It’s as simple as asking, “Hi, have you been here before?” when you greet a guest. This question shows that your staff are attentive, and can elevate your sales by up to 16%.

Diners want to know they’re going to be taken care of from the moment they step into your restaurant. Taking the time to ask questions demonstrates interest and lets guests know that your restaurant prioritizes customer experience.

Close up of young woman packing food in paper bags and preparing them for delivery.

Ways to Increase Restaurant Takeout Sales

6. Add Online Ordering

Today’s consumers are looking for convenience. Although it may sound extreme, the fact is that not everyone is willing to call up a restaurant to place a takeout order over the phone. This is just one reason why offering online ordering directly through your website is a wise decision.

Online ordering not only gives your customers the flexibility of placing their order on the internet (no waiting on hold necessary!), but it also provides you with an opportunity to generate higher sales. That’s because online ordering enables you to visually highlight particular menu items and add-ons in a way you’re simply not able to in a phone conversation.

With a commission-free online ordering solution like TouchBistro Online Ordering, you can accept orders directly through your restaurant’s website and keep more profits in your pocket. That’s right – no shelling out money to third-party apps just to offer takeout.

7. Offer Delivery

Speaking of convenience, what’s more convenient than ordering online and picking up your meal? Ordering delivery right to your door. It’s no wonder that the food delivery industry is estimated to increase to $320 billion by 2029

Offering customers the option to get their food delivered while they stay cozy at home is a great way to make sales that you may otherwise miss out on.

If you’re wary about losing money to a third-party delivery app, there are alternative solutions available. With the TouchBistro Online Ordering and DoorDash Drive Integration, you can leverage a commission-free delivery solution to get your orders from door to door without your busy employees having to lift a finger.

8. Run a Takeout or Delivery Promotion

In the same way you can drive in-house sales by offering in-venue specials, you can create an online promotion to bring in more of those particular sales.

The key is choosing a popular takeout and delivery item to promote. For instance, you could offer a buy-one-get-one pizza special with 50% off the second pizza.

Running takeout and delivery promotions on days like Superbowl Sunday (or during any big sporting event, really) is a smart move to boost your sales.

How to Increase Restaurant Sales by Attracting New Customers 

9. Optimize Your Website for Local Search

Part of knowing how to increase restaurant sales involves making sure new customers can find you online.

Using search engine optimization (SEO) tips to make your website easier for people to discover doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are two simple things you can do right now to improve your local SEO.

Use Targeted Keywords

Using keywords in your website copy gives your restaurant a better chance of ranking on the first page of online search results for the terms you want to be found for, like “best lunch in Chicago” or “Asian restaurants in Austin.” Since 75% of people searching online never look beyond the first page, improving your search rankings is worth your time.

Create a Google Business Profile

A Google My Business profile enables you to control how your restaurant shows up on Google Maps and Search. In addition, businesses with a profile verified by Google are twice as likely to be considered reputable as those without a profile. Here’s an example of the profile for western Canadian restaurant Blowers and Grafton.

Google My Business profile for the Canadian restaurant Blowers and Grafton.

10. Elevate Your Social Media Presence

In addition to making sure new customers can find your restaurant via online search, you also want to make sure they can find and interact with you on social media. 

There are numerous social media platforms you can choose from, but Instagram and Facebook are our top picks for restaurants. Here are two ways to make your restaurant stand out on social media platforms.

Leverage Instagram Reels and Stories

We’re sorry to be the bearers of bad news, but nowadays, posting pictures on your Instagram feed is the bare minimum you can do to promote your restaurant on this channel. 

While your feed is an ideal place to showcase branded photos like shots of your newest menu items, Reels and Stories are better for sharing behind the scenes, or just plain fun, content that gives customers a feel for what your brand is all about. This helps generate interest from new customers. Another bonus? Reels have been reported to drive 22% higher engagement than regular Instagram posts.

Take Reservations Through Your Facebook Page

Having a Facebook page gives new customers one more way to find you online beyond just your website. Why not make it even easier for them to try out your restaurant by leveraging this social media channel to the fullest?

Adding a “Book Now” button to your Facebook page enables you to take reservations directly through Facebook. This way, you’ll minimize the chances of a potential customer getting distracted if they have to click away from your page to book a table.

You can also allow guests to share reviews on your Facebook page. In turn, your raving fans might help new customers decide to dine with you.

11. Run a Contest

Creating a fun contest is an excellent way to capture the attention of new customers. Who doesn’t want a chance to win something exciting?

In fact, research shows that brands acquire more than 34% of new customers through contests. This tactic is also an effective way to grow your social media following. Statistics indicate that Instagram accounts that run contests increase their follower count 70% faster than accounts that don’t.

Here’s an example of how the successful restaurant chain Earls celebrated its 40th anniversary by promoting a cookbook contest on Instagram, including a gift card to sweeten the deal.

12. Sell Gift Cards

Gift card marketing is another solid strategy for acquiring new customers and encouraging repeat business from them. Combining software products like TouchBistro Loyalty and Gift Cards is a fantastic way to convert first-time customers into regular guests.

Gift cards are a perfect way to increase your sales because those who may not have heard of your restaurant, but have received a gift card, now have a reason to come in. This not only means new customers in the door, but also bigger sales since nearly 60% of people spend more than the value of the gift card they’ve been given when they use it. You can choose between selling physical vs digital gift cards, or both.

How to Boost Restaurant Sales by Driving Repeat Business

13. Use Email Marketing

While gaining new customers is critical for maintaining a healthy bottom line, customer retention is even more important. It’s common knowledge that keeping your current customers costs less money and drives more revenue than focusing on acquisition alone.

Enter email marketing. Email is an excellent way to nurture your restaurant’s existing customers and keep your brand top of mind with them. Popping into their inboxes to share information and deals encourages them to keep coming back to your restaurant.

Not sure how to get started with email marketing? Restaurant software like TouchBistro Marketing can help you design eye-catching emails with drag-and-drop templates. You can even automate these campaigns so you can set them and forget them!

14. Implement a Loyalty Program

All good relationships go two ways. It’s not just about the sales you can make from your customer base; it’s about the bond you build with them and the way you thank them for their loyalty to your business. This is why implementing a loyalty program is a genius idea for restaurateurs.

Loyalty programs help you strengthen your customer relationships and generate more sales, making them a win-win for both your restaurant and your guests. In fact, 57% of consumers spend more money at businesses they consider themselves loyal to.

A rewards program like TouchBistro Loyalty allows your diners to earn loyalty points and rewards automatically based on the items they purchase and the amount they spend, ultimately keeping them coming back.

No need to fear a slow sales day! You now have 14 tips in your toolkit to help you boost your sales in-venue, through takeout, and by marketing to new and existing customers. Happy selling!

Photo of Katherine Pendrill
by Katherine Pendrill

Katherine is the Content Marketing Manager at TouchBistro, where she writes about trending topics in food and restaurants. The opposite of a picky eater, she’ll try (almost) anything at least once. Whether it’s chowing down on camel burgers in Morocco or snacking on octopus dumplings in Japan, she’s always up for new food experiences.

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