The restaurant industry is a notoriously tough market that unfortunately sees a lot of failure, especially during the first few years of business. Although there is certainly a lot of competition, there is also potential for great success if you execute proper business strategies. During the initial stages after opening your restaurant, it is extremely hard to even break even financially. So how can you realistically grow your profits in such a competitive environment? Thankfully, there are several steps you can take to increase your profit margin. At the same time, it is important to stress that quality and service should never be sacrificed in the name of increasing profit. Usually, this will end up having the opposite effect by instead turning off customers.
Connect With Customers Online
In today’s ever-changing world of technology, mastering the digital sphere can seem overwhelming and even impossible. Fortunately, there are several relatively simple ways to use the Internet to your advantage. Social media is an easy, cheap, and effective way to market your restaurant and connect with customers online. Creating profiles on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter will solidify your social media presence and increase your visibility to your customers and their connections as well! Social media contests are an especially fun way to utilize social media to promote your business. Through contests, you could require your entrants to “share” your post in order to gain more visibility within their friends lists. Giving away a free appetizer is a small price to pay in order to gain hundreds of new potential customers!
Offer Online Ordering
Another way to utilize the Internet in order to bring in more customers and in turn increase profits is through partnering with online order and delivery services. Some larger restaurants even have their own mobile applications for ordering! Of course, there are simpler ways to do this that are just as user-friendly and efficient such as using a point of sale system. You could also partner with well-known food delivery services such as GrubHub or UberEats to have customers order your food from within their app. The ease of using these applications is quite impressive, and you can get a delicious meal without even leaving your home! Of course, these services will take a small commission fee, but it can still be extremely profitable as these orders result in sales that do not take up tables in the dining room or the labor of your waitstaff.
Offer a Loyalty Program
Frequent customers can be a great marketing tool to increase traffic, and thereby profit for your restaurant. You can really sweeten the deal for those who already enjoy your food and service by establishing a loyalty program. There are several different formats for loyalty programs, but usually the gist is that the customer gets a certain amount of points or rewards for the amount they spend in the restaurant. Another tactic is sending out a coupon for a free dessert or appetizer to your program members every so often to encourage them to come into the restaurant before said offer expires. Many programs allow you to choose how you redeem your points by using them towards a free drink, free appetizer, or even a free meal! Variety and feasibility are important aspects to keep in mind when using this kind of reward system. People will enjoy being able to choose what they can use their rewards on and knowing that they only must come in one more time before they can get a free meal is a huge motivation as well. These incentives encourage your customers to keep coming back for more on a regular basis, and hopefully bring their friends and family along to enjoy with them as well!
Implement Daily Specials
Many restaurants encounter the issue of having less traffic during the week as opposed to during the weekend. This can obviously cut down on profits. You can maximize the amount of profit you earn during the week by featuring daily specials specifically during weekdays to encourage people to come in during those days and increase your table turnover during those slower times. Many restaurants choose to offer a discounted appetizer or special combo meal on certain weekdays. Happy hour is also a popular weekday event that offers discounted drinks and sometimes appetizers to encourage people to come in before the usual evening dinner rush. The more people you have in the restaurant during more times, the more profit you will earn!
Focus on Your Customer
When dealing with money issues, many restaurant owners often immediately look to how they can cut costs to increase cash flow. While you obviously should not be wasteful or inefficient, some cost-cutting measures can have a negative effect on customer satisfaction. Since the customer is the most important aspect of running any successful business, this is not a beneficial side effect. Instead of immediately considering cost cutting measures that could end up hurting your business image, try the changes detailed above first. Restaurant loans are also another option that can provide you with the means to give your customers the service and experience that they are looking for instead of driving them away by cutting corners just to save a few pennies. A happy customer is extremely valuable, and regular customers are likely to come back often and even act as a free marketing tool by telling their friends and family about your restaurant.