Here are ten tips on building your restaurant revenue through creativity rather than simply raising the menu prices. Let’s look at each one and see how it stacks up.
1). Make sure all of your food costs are in line. The average food cost in restaurants hover around 33%. There are some fine dining houses that creep to 40% while some great, well run operations can maintain a 28% food cost. Remember, this is an average. The key to a perfect menu is perception, value and food cost balance.
If you aren’t tracking it, you won’t know if you are in line or not. Bad. If you are tracking it, you should be on the constant lookout for prices going up and always asking your vendors for the best possible deals, viable alternatives and try to have at least two vendors for everything you stock to keep them honest.
2). Analyze profit margin as closely as you analyze price. If one of your menu items is priced at 40% food cost, then another menu item needs to be at 20% to maintain your average. That’s one of the reasons many restaurants mingle reasonably priced pasta on the menu with a high priced lamb sirloin. The pasta will deliver more profit to the bottom line at $14.00 that the lamb ill at $25.00.
This is why you plan your menu pricing structure at the same time you develop your menu- so you have balance in your margins and for the palate.
3). Add items that tantalize taste buds and increase profits nightly. Make your specials, special.
4). Appetizers, desserts, soups, salads and side dishes all bring joy to the table and profits to your pocket. There are some very simple recipes that you don’t need pastry chef to create that are highly profitable.
Not only should you offer exciting and tempting and new dishes with good margins, you should also make sure your staff is properly promoting them to your customers.
5). Remember, remind your servers what business they are in: Sales. They work on commission. And, depending on how they do, they also realize increased revenue while you realize more profits.
Right, I just said that. Seriously, though- make sure they are doing it and doing it well. Figure out who your best servers are and ask them to mentor the weaker performing ones. Anyone who really doesn’t get it needs to be replaced as they are costing you money.
6). Marketing. The worst marketing anyone can ever do is to promote an over priced menu. If you are going to market to your customers, make sure you are enticing their presence with a value oriented offer
Marketing is a good way to increase revenue because you are just selling more of the stuff at the same price rather than raising your prices. A good loyalty marketing program is the best of all because it costs the least and typically gets the best results.
7). Menu item descriptions are as important as the ingredients in the dish. Menu writing is an art that needs to be done by the most creative person on your staff. It’s copy writing in a concise form. We eat with our eyes, that’s why chefs use plates as canvas. But before we see the food, the description needs to paint a vivid picture.
Your menu is a selling tool. If you are just using it as a list of food with prices, you’re doing it wrong.
8). If your menu is getting resistance, and is already considered too pricey you may be at a crossroads. If you don’t have the capital to close and remodel, try introducing a new menu while still maintaining the old one. This takes a bit of ingenuity. You certainly don’t want to order twice as much product so you will need to create different entrees with the same product. Print the new menu on a single sheet of paper, don’t include it in the old menu covers. Price it more reasonably than your old menu. If marketed successfully, within weeks you can toss your old menu, have new ones printed and be on a fresh course.
It sounds like this suggestion is: change your entire restaurant. That sounds pretty radical. But I suppose in some cases it may be required. Hope that’s not you.
9). Staff meetings are a vital step towards increased revenue. Daily pre shift meetings are essential. Let your staff know what your goals are and include their ideas to obtain them.
The way your staff operates is the way your restaurant goes. A great staff can elevate an otherwise mediocre restaurant to greatness. A poor staff can bring down a potentially great restaurant. And it all starts with the leadership of the owners and the culture they establish. Unfortunately, the ones who need it most are almost always the ones least likely to read something like this or pay any attention but that’s the way it goes.
10). Have a plan. Nobody can raise prices, or develop a marketing campaign, or increase items without an overall plan. You need to review your business quarterly and analyze your failures and successes while charting a course for the future. Restaurants are fashionable places. And, just like fashion hey can change seasonally. Use the options to your advantage. If you don’t like the results of the last quarter, change the plan for the next season. It’s one way to keep the customers you have and if done well, it will bring in new ones.
Yes. Have a restaurant business plan. Definitely.
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