Only one in four of guests place blame on operators and the food industry for the rising cost of eating out, but rather than introducing a sudden price increase or just taking the hit so you don’t lose customers, introduce some pricing strategies that will benefit your bottom line without stretching your guests’ budgets.
Whichever example is right for your business set price menus have proven appeal with guests. Varying the set prices across different courses and day parts will boost business in different ways according to your needs.
The time could be right to experiment with some lower priced dishes that use cheaper cuts of meat and plentiful, seasonal vegetables. These often need expert preparation which a guest would not prepare at home so using traditional cooking methods such as slow roasting or braising which take time and care gives an appealing nostalgic angle to the dish as well as delivering the value and margin you need.
Innovate your salads and soups with dressings, toppings and dips, different ingredients, and cooking techniques. Promote the generous size of your starters for either sharing or making a main course. Four out of five US consumers felt that appetisers should be shared and three quarters would consider ordering a combination platter.*
Reward those customers who keep coming back, they will be touched by your offer and could become your biggest advocates. Offer them a free dessert at the end of their meal or a liquor with their coffee.
Upselling aims to convince guests to buy extra menu items or upgrade their current purchase. ‘Would you like fries with that?’ is the classic example. Sometimes, upselling is also known as suggestive selling.
If your front of house team is not practicing upselling, it could be time to introduce it. Upselling is one of the quickest ways to improve profits without spending any extra money. Good upselling has the following results:
Increased average spend per guest
By selling more items and upgrades, you will increase the size of the average spend in your restaurant.
Better guest satisfaction
When your servers practice good suggestive selling, it results in better service, since guests are made aware of the best options that are available to them.
More profitable sales
In addition to selling more items or selling more expensive items, upselling can increase sales for menu items with the highest profit margins, as servers learn to recommend the most profitable items.
Better tips and job satisfaction for waiters and servers
Higher spend averages means higher tip rates, which will make your waiters and servers happy.
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The opportunity to upsell wine and/or beer is also best at the beginning of service. Often, wine sales can be the main factor that increases profit margins.
Appetizers usually have good profit margins. They are also one of the easiest menu items to upsell. There is a good chance that guests are already hungry when they arrive so the front of house team should not miss the opportunity. Servers should be trained to offer enticing descriptions of appetizers to encourage the customers.
Any time a customer orders anything that would go well with something else, waiters and servers should suggest the side dishes.
All waiters and servers should offer guests dessert, describing them in mouthwatering detail. If a table seems hesitant to indulge, recommend that the guests consider sharing a dessert, just to get a little taste.
Every member of the front of house team should be aware of which items on the menu are most profitable, so that they can try to suggestively sell them. For example, if servers know which main course is most profitable for the restaurant, when a customer asks for a recommendation, they can mention that item. If servers know which dessert is most profitable, they can make sure to have a delicious description of it ready for when the customers finish their main course.