How Restaurants Can Boost Their Profitability
What's the secret to a restaurant's longevity? Is it great food? Outstanding customer service? Ambiance?
How about profitability?
You may have started out your establishment as a passion project to showcase your love for food. But just like any business, restaurants must make profits, not only to stay afloat but more importantly, to thrive. This is particularly important when you have workers depending on your leadership and decision-making.
Success, in practically most cases, does not come overnight. Instead, you build things slowly, brick by brick. If you want to give your establishment a strong fighting chance, here are a few strategies that you can enforce to boost its profitability.
Build a robust culture of excellent customer service
Great food, the right ambiance, and clever marketing can drive people to your restaurant. But what will encourage them to come back again and again? Outstanding customer service.
But how exactly can you improve your restaurant's level of customer service?
First, make sure that your servers know how to anticipate the needs of your customers.
Next, make it a habit to talk to your customers and solicit feedback, which you can use for improvement.
Some customers rely on your staff's recommendations. It would be helpful if your servers know exactly how each dish tastes. And the best way to do that is to allow them to sample the items on your menu periodically.
Another great way to boost customer service is to cut waiting times. These include fulfilling orders and processing bills.
Finally, leverage the power of your loyal customers to act as your restaurant's brand ambassadors.
Add healthier options on your menu
As more and more consumers become mindful of the food they eat, restaurants should also look at this as an opportunity to expand their offerings.
That does not necessarily mean that you should completely revamp your menu. Instead, try to give your patrons the power to choose healthier options, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free substitutes.
Establish an online presence
Websites, social media, and other online assets can help a fledgling restaurant gain equal footing with other more established industry players.
But how exactly can establishments leverage an online presence to their advantage? For social media, here are a few best practices to consider.
Plan your editorial calendar. Ideally, you should publish at least three posts per week.
Give your customers a reason to keep on coming back
Loyal customers are an invaluable asset that restaurants should strive to acquire. For one, it is far easier to market to consumers who already know you and your products. Second, loyal customers can help in promoting your establishment.
Apart from serving scrumptious meals consistently, there are a few things that you can do to strengthen your relationship with your customers.
For starters, consider giving loyalty or rewards cards for customers. Rewards can be as simple as a free drink or something bigger like a free meal.
Some restaurants have attracted new customers by partnering with other local businesses for rewards and gift certificates, so network with other establishments in your area for a win-win campaign.
Finally, consider offering discounted lunch sets or related promos for customers who are looking for great deals.
Revamp your menu design
Your menu is not just a list of the food and beverages that your restaurant offers. It is also a powerful tool that you can use to persuade customers.
Menu design is both an art and a science. In fact, there are agencies that specialize in crafting menus.
The first step involved in developing a robust menu design is food costing. Make sure that you compute for both the food cost percentage as well as the contribution margin of each item on your menu.
From there, group menu items based upon their popularity and profit margin. After that, print out an initial design and check its performance in your restaurant. You may need to tweak the design based on its performance.
Ideally, you should highlight your best sellers and use high-quality pictures. Many experts recommend removing currency signs to eliminate the customers' hesitation to order because of the price.
And speaking of price, avoid listing prices in a column. Instead, amounts should be placed after an item's description. This will help steer the customer's attention away from the price.
Revise your product description. If you can, enlist the help of a copywriter to create compelling descriptions.
Consider limiting food items to just seven per category. This can help you avoid overwhelming customers with too many choices.
Find ways to cut wait times
No matter how delectable your dishes are, people will become irate if you make them wait for an unreasonably long time.
Making customers wait can hurt your business in different ways, from getting bad reviews to having loyal patrons poached by nearby establishments.
Although there is no real way to eliminate wait times, there are a few things that you can do.
Hunger can make people cranky. And when you add the element of time to that equation, you have a recipe for disaster. You can overcome this by giving your customers snacks (a complimentary basket of Bridor bread, for example) to help tide them over while waiting for orders.
Consider taking orders while people are still waiting in line. It also helps if you create a great ambiance by providing comfy seats, free Wi-Fi, and the appropriate music.
Make data your friend
When making decisions, do not rely on hunches or gut feel. Instead, look at available data, find patterns, and make the right adjustments.
For the modern restaurant owner, this task becomes more manageable through the use of available technology, especially your POS system.
Your POS system can provide you with invaluable information like your bestsellers, least ordered items, and peak hours.
The restaurant business is not just about the food. If you want your establishment to thrive, you will need to pay ample attention to the different aspects of your operation.
Jad Asaad is the Marketing Manager at Bidfood UAE with more than eight years of experience in digital, online and offline marketing. He started his career in Beirut working in a creative agency and then moved to Dubai to further expand his career. He created and implemented award-winning high-impact digital and offline marketing campaigns that consistently generated revenue streams and improved performance in targeted segments.