Marketing on a Budget: 10 Strategies to Increase Sales in Restaurants
- Sarah Gurr
- 3 Min Read
When you’re focused on the day-to-day operations of your restaurant, it’s easy to lose sight of growth strategies—especially if your budget is tight. But the current climate is a great time for restaurant growth. The National Restaurant Association notes that the Restaurant Performance Index, which tracks the health and outlook of the restaurant industry, has been trending upward in 2018. In other words, there’s no time like the present to take advantage of this period of growth. But you don’t have to spend a ton of money in the process. Here are ten ways to think about how to increase restaurant sales without advertising.
1. Participate in Restaurant Week
Restaurant week is a community event where you offer discounts or prix fixe menus. It may seem counterintuitive to reduce prices, but restaurant week is one of the best strategies to increases sales in your restaurant. It gives you a chance to show off your food, your service, and turn new customers into regulars. You also have an opportunity to upsell diners with a drink pairing for the menu, as a way to even out the revenue loss.
2. Define Your SEO Strategy
Your website will serve as one of the best strategies to increase sales in the lifetime of your restaurant. But it’s nothing if people can’t find it. SEO, or search engine optimization, ensures that your site is at the top of online searches. By peppering key phrases throughout your site’s content, you increase the chances of your website being scanned by Google or Bing. Search Engine Journal recommends defining your geographic region, then using Google’s Keyword Planner to determine the best keywords to associate with your site.
3. Add Catering
Wondering how to increase sales without advertising all over the internet? Focus your attention on a single delivery platform that will do the heavy lifting for you. Catering may seem like a big undertaking, but if you use a third-party tool like ezCater to market your menu and manage your orders, all you have to worry about is prepping the food—which is already your strength.
4. Optimize Your Menu
Are the most popular dishes on your menu also the most profitable? If the answer is no, you may want to consider taking a second look. Maybe the menu is too cluttered, or maybe you’re not using images effectively. Your menu is one of your most powerful strategies to increase sales in your restaurant because you have the power to use design to direct diners to the dishes you hope they’ll order.
5. Create a Social Media Campaign
Your followers on social media are your biggest advocates. But social media is also a way to show your customers the real you. If you’re feeling stuck about how to increase restaurant sales without direct advertising, try creating a social campaign on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter that displays the authenticity of your restaurant. Maybe it’s behind-the-scenes photos or videos with your team. Or maybe you’d prefer to share inspirational quotes or funny GIFs. Whatever it is, launch a dedicated campaign (at least one post per week for a set period of time) that people will want to share with their connections. The more followers you gain, the more chances you have for people to come in for a meal.
6. Host Events
Events like live music, readings, or trivia nights drive people to visit your space and are tried-and-true strategies to increase sales in your restaurant. You can rely on the “talent” to help you get the word out, too. People will stay longer at your tables, but that means they’ll also buy more food and drinks along the way. And it gives them a reason to come out week after week.
7. Train Your Staff to Upsell
Your staff is potentially an untapped asset for increasing sales. Review your POS data to find out how much your servers are selling week-to-week. If some servers are falling behind, spend the time to train them on upselling appetizers, drinks, or desserts. You’d be surprised at how far a smile and a sales pitch go as strategies to increase sales in your restaurant—even on a popular night.
8. Maximize Your Table Turnover
The more people you can seat in your dining room, the more meals you’ll sell. Consider whether your staff is efficiently turning over tables, or if your dining room is arranged to optimize the number of customers you can serve at a given time. Strategies to keep the meal moving—and increase sales in your restaurant—include seating only complete parties, recommending dishes the kitchen can prepare quickly, and dropping off the check before the customer asks. Just remember that it’s not about moving people through quickly. Instead, it’s about giving people a great experience, while keeping an eye on efficiency.
9. Find Local Sponsorships
If you’re wondering how to increase restaurant sales without advertising, T-ball teams, bowling leagues, and a host of other local groups are always looking for sponsorships. The best part? This strategy doesn’t require an enormous financial contribution. Generally, sponsorships require you to pay for the group’s jerseys, and, in exchange, your name gets printed on the shirts. It’s an easy win, as your name is broadcast to every spectator when that Little Leaguer rounds the bases. It’s yet another way to build your position as a leader in the community, which sends more customers your way.
10. Try a Food Drop
A food drop is when you surprise a local business with food as an effort to get their business. Make a list of all the offices in your neighborhood, then plan to “stop by” with a tray of cookies, a sandwich platter, or whatever you do well. They’ll be delighted—after all, who doesn’t love free food? And they’ll remember the gesture next time they’re looking for a lunch spot or catered meal. It’s one of the best strategies to increase sales in your restaurant by winning over new customers—and it feels pretty great, too.
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