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How to Increase Restaurant Sales and Cut Losses in 2016

With our new year just a few days away, it’s time you start thinking about how to improve your restaurant in 2016. For savvy restaurant operators, this starts with taking a fine tooth comb to your 2015 financial reports. As a business resolution, this is the equivalent of cursing that last piece of honey baked ham you ate before stepping on the scale, noting the pounds, and then analyzing your eating habits to identify the junk and grease you need to cut from your diet. Instead of the resolution to loose weight, a restaurant’s resolution should be to increase profits. Like any New Year’s resolution, this means you eliminate bad habits, accentuate good ones, and add a few productive bits to your routine. There are now a host of new restaurant technologies available to help you do all that.

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Define Your Restaurant’s Goals

In order to define your future financial goals, you must take an audit of your profits and losses from the previous year. Remember the savvy restaurateur? They put together a weekly P&L statement to track revenue, losses, and determine how financially successful their restaurant is. If you’ve tracked these numbers, you can go back though each month’s P&L statements and pull all sorts of good data. With this data, you should be able to locate the areas where you’ve been least profitable, and identify ways to trim losses like the fat on a ribeye. If you aren’t currently tracking your financial numbers, then this should be your highest priority resolution for the new year. These numbers tell you the details of your restaurant’s story. You need them to ensure you’re writing towards a happy and profitable ending.

In order to increase profits, there will be three actions you need to take. Reduce losses. Expand profitable areas. Add new revenue streams.

Reduce Loses

Restaurant operators know that there are many expenses in running a restaurant. What are the two biggest sectors of loss for restaurants?

  • Labor Costs
  • Costs of Goods

Mismanaging these two areas can be severely detrimental to your restaurant.

Labor Costs

Scheduling can be a headache for managers. We recently wrote about a few products to help you better manage scheduling and inventory. One of the apps we highlighted was Homebase. These mobile-friendly apps are useful because you can communicate with your employees the way they communicate with each other. Labor is the biggest line item lost for restaurants. So an even bigger win for restaurant operators is that scheduling tools can help you track payroll, hours, and find points where you’re loosing money due to poor labor management.

Cost of Goods

If your cost of goods is too high, you need to rethink how you order. Restaurants can go through a lot of waste, so it’s important to make sure your inventory isn’t sitting on a shelf collecting dust or spoiling. The process for ordering product is important. A quick google search will show you countless apps to track your liquor inventory, and an app like LeanPath can help you track and reduce food inventory. It’s also important to track menu sales. This allows you to identify your fast-moving and high profit items and to determine which items don’t sell and aren’t worth the cost of carrying.

Digital menus like Uncorkd can track which menu items are being viewed and which are being ignored. This helps to identify profitable items. It also allows you to feature items to increase their sales. With an iPad wine list, you can promote low selling wines to decrease inventory.

Increase Sales with Better Marketing

How to increase sales is the big question for businesses. Expanding your bottom line is what make a restaurant successful. There a few helpful ways to drive business and increase sales.

  • Mobile Website
  • Mobile Campaigns
  • Return Customers
  • Menu Efficiency
Mobile Website

The importance of a mobile friendly website for your restaurant cannot be stressed enough. Restaurants are the top industry searched for on mobile devices. Over 81% of mobile users have searched for a restaurant online. Creating and maintaining a website that customers can interact with on their smart phones and tablets will help drive both online and real life traffic to your restaurant.

Managers must make sure they have an accurate menu online. Guests will want to peruse your menu before choosing to dine with you. Essential information like location, transit options, hours of operation, and service times for brunch, lunch, dinner, and bar should all be easily found on your website. A high quality mobile website will also help your restaurant’s search engine results, ensuring that yours is the first restaurant a customer will see when searching for dining options.

Customer Loyalty

Generating loyal customers who return to your restaurant is a key to success. Offering loyalty cards gives guests incentive to spend more money with you as they can gain points to use towards discounts and special offers. Gift cards can be physical or digital cards that work with promotional codes.

A good customer segment to target is local customers who live by your restaurant. You can create specials and neighborhood deals for customers who live within a certain area to build clientele out of your neighbors. Use their zip code as a promotional code.

Mobile Campaigns

Mobile and online campaigns like text alerts and newsletters are a direct way to let your guests know about upcoming events, specials, and promotions. This gives loyal customers insider tips and allows them to be the first to make reservations or RSVP to special events like wine pairing dinners.

Menu Efficiency

Your menu is the most important document in your restaurant. Make sure you put together a menu that is easy to follow and understand, and points your guests in the right direction. There is a lot to menu science, and the way you lay out this information can be crucial to increasing sales. Be sure you don’t fall into common traps, like listing menu items by price, or forgoing menu descriptions in order to save space. iPad menus, digital wine lists, and tablets are a great way to create efficient and interactive menus that are easy to update, offer high quality descriptions, and save time and money on printing.

Add New Revenue Streams

The restaurant industry is changing in the way that people order. This is happening in-house, with the adoption of iPad menus like we mentioned above, as well as how people order from home.

Mobile Ordering

If your restaurant is not available to order from online, then you are missing out on an important revenue stream. With customers increasingly turning to mobile ordering apps to get their food, restaurants must make themselves available to the many app services on the market. Services like GrubHub and DoorDash are expanding to cities throughout the United States and offer new ways for restaurants to reach hungry customers. With tech giants like Uber and Amazon getting into the mobile food ordering game, this trend is not slowing down. Look to see what mobile ordering apps are available for your restaurant.


Kyle Thacker