Everyone knows that entering the
restaurant business is no small feat. You need to secure funding, choose a location, get the building ready, plan a menu, curate a brand, and not to mention draw attention to your new spot.
Once you cross each of those (and so much more we breezed right over) off your list, congratulations! You’re the proud owner/operator of your very own restaurant.
Now the real work begins.
While there are a lot of unsubstantiated figures thrown around about
restaurants closing within the first year of opening, it’s undeniable setting up a restaurant business for continuous, predictable growth is a challenge.
From high employee turnover rate, notoriously low-profit margins, and the lingering scars from COVID-19, it’s easy to fall prey to common
Looking to grow your restaurant? On the hunt for tips to increase sales in your restaurant? Looking to close out the year strong?
We’ve got you covered. We’ll cover common restaurant road bumps and the best ways to smooth them out on your road to success.
Common pitfalls to increasing your restaurant sales
Your restaurant is open, customers come and go in waves, and business is steady. Now what?
It’s time to grow. Before diving into the top tips for increasing restaurant sales, let’s review some of the blockers that can slow you down.
Pitfall 1: Not owning your slice of the market.
Generic restaurants rarely cut it anymore. If you don’t differentiate, you’re less likely to grow your restaurant business successfully.
Competition is a common blocker to restaurant growth. The industry is super competitive with new spots opening frequently. Staying on top of the competition can help you understand how to carve out your corner of the market.
Customer preferences also tend to change. If you don’t stay on top of what’s trendy and what’s not, you could quickly fall prey to irrelevancy.
Investing in marketing and branding can sometimes come as an afterthought. If you’re the “if I build it, they will come” type, expect to lose out on potential sales you didn’t attract with thoughtful marketing and branding. Pitfall 2: Not getting and keeping the right people Hiring the right staff is an ever-present challenge in the restaurant industry. With notoriously high turnover rates, building a healthy hiring and retaining culture will pay dividends later on. Training is just as important as getting the right people. If the game plan is to “wing it” or to expect great people to know how to churn out great results, you can expect some unhappy employees and unsatisfied customers. Pitfall 3: Setting up unsustainable or unscalable operations Staying on top of finances certainly isn’t the sexiest side of operating a restaurant but unless you’re on top of your investments and managing your cash flow you can anticipate financial struggles. Managing a supply chain is especially important in the restaurant business as getting fresh and high-quality ingredients is key to great food. But finding the right suppliers and getting those ingredients in an efficient way often proves challenging. Optimizing operations is another extremely unsexy way of emphasizing how important it is to get the right systems in place across the restaurant—in the kitchen, in the front of house, for deliveries, on your website, over the phone, etc. Without the right foundations in place, scaling your restaurant business will be impossible. Using technology is often overlooked when growing a restaurant. The food industry doesn’t embrace technology as quickly as others. It often falls into holes when trying to band-aid solutions together whether it’s inconsistency in reservations, phone etiquette, takeout orders, and more. Why you should focus on growing your restaurant in 2024
Any restaurant owner/operator knows there are a ton of challenges to growing a restaurant.
We only covered a few of those, but can’t emphasize enough that if you’re in the restaurant business, you always need to have your eye on the next phase of growth.
To be frank, the restaurant industry isn’t for the faint of heart or hobbyists. With investors to pay back, competitors to overcome, talent heading to other up-and-coming spots, and new brands popping up left and right, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.
As Alexandra Leung reported in her
Restaurant Industry Trends for 2024 for Linkedin, eateries that embrace growth and change will come out on top in 2024:
“By keeping pace with changing demands and industry advancements, restaurants can thrive in the coming years. Those who rigidly cling to the status quo risk falling behind the competition.”
10 tips to increase your restaurant sales
You’re committed to increasing your restaurant sales. Awesome. Before you put your foot down on the pedal, you need to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Let’s plug some directions into the GPS.
What’s your strategy for increasing sales at your restaurant? Need some direction?
Read on for our top 10 tips for growing your restaurant.
Though the industry is known for being slow to adopt new tech, the best restaurants, restaurant groups, fast-casual establishments, and so on lean into new technology instead of shying away from it. Reservations systems and
phone services handle a lot of the busy work that you’d need to hire extra staff to cover. If you’re looking to get ahead, consider where you could invest in technology to fill some of the gaps in your operations. Listen to your customers
Even more than other industries, restaurant owners need to stay on top of what people want. Are plant-based options in? Would your clientele prefer booths or low tops? Does this menu reflect the brand you're trying to curate? Getting feedback from your customer base is the key to getting and staying ahead.
Enhance your customer experience
Once you know what the people want, give it to them. Incorporate customer feedback into your menu, seating layout, reservation experience, and so on. From there, anticipate what you think we’ll bring a
delightful experience for your customers. Most potential customers will have multiple touch points with your restaurant before dining there–a billboard, a scroll of your website, a phone call to make a reservation, a five-minute wait in the lobby before being seated, etc. Whatever those touchpoints are, make them delightful. Honor seasonality and run promotions
Cycling through different types of promotions can help boost sales when you need it most. Lean into seasonality and offer season-inspired menu items or holiday-themed promotions. Try out different promotions and see which ones work well for your business.
Invest in your staff
Hiring and keeping good people is one of the key challenges of the restaurant industry. What makes your restaurant a great place to work over the other spot down the street? Consider what benefits and culture you want to establish for your people and budget to make those investments happen.
Build partnerships that will last
Apart from the people who work in-house, the partnerships you build outside your restaurant are just as important. What suppliers are you working with? If you outsource delivery, who do you partner with and why? While in-house turnover is a huge headache, cycling through your external partners is a bigger headache and more importantly, a huge expense. Find partners with similar values and nurture that partnership.
Consider catering, takeout, or delivery
If you haven’t already considered opening other arms of your business, catering or takeout orders are likely one of the first places you’ll look to expand. Make sure you cover the scope of creating a new arm of business before moving forward. Do you have the right tech in place for take out like a website or
a stellar phone service? Don’t forget branding and marketing
It’s often difficult to attribute the return on investment made to your brand or marketing efforts but that doesn’t mean they’re not worth investing in. Especially in such a cutthroat industry, differentiation is crucial. Think about your favorite restaurant. It almost certainly has a strong brand, whether upscale exclusivity, fun fast casual, or something completely unique. Having a lukewarm brand identity will get you nowhere fast.
Engage with the community
Though much of the restaurant business operated online and over deliveries during COVID-19, we’re nearly back to our brick-and-mortar roots. It’s important for you, as a restaurant owner, to consider what role the community you based your restaurant in can play in your business. Who would it make sense to partner with in the community? Are there food fairs you should be a part of? How does your brand play with the local area?
Try cross-selling and upselling
If your restaurant is growing well but you’re looking to increase your average sale price or the amount a customer spends when they come to see you, try cross-selling or upselling to them. Maybe a wine pairing would work well on your menu. Or, you could train your employees to always ask customers if they want fries and a drink with their burger. Whatever makes sense for your business, cross and upsell, should be incorporated into your selling motion.
What is Slang and how will we help your business grow?
If there’s one thing to take away from this guide, it’s that making the
right investments for your business is the key difference between restaurants that make it and those that prematurely close their doors.
Embracing change, and more specifically embracing technology, will be key for restaurant growth in 2024 and beyond.
Slang.ai comes in.
We’re a digital phone concierge that answers questions, takes reservations, and satisfies callers.
Understanding your customer base? Check.
Creating delightful touchpoints for customers? Check
Optimizing operations? Check.
Investing in your staff (let’s be real, no one likes manning the phone)? Check.
Freeing you up to think about the future of your business? Check.
We exist to modernize the guest experience while preserving the essence of hospitality.
Interested in upgrading your hospitality service with Slang.ai?
Get in touch today.