You’re getting ready to reopen your restaurant or are transitioning to dine-in service instead of only offering takeout and delivery. You’re ready to hit the ground running and get revenue back on track, which makes this an opportune time to strategize about new ways to increase restaurant sales. With some ingenuity and forethought, you can implement changes that will revitalize the dining experience for your customers—and help boost your bottom line.

Give your restaurant a tech upgrade

Customers are hungry for high-tech amenities that make it more convenient and safe to dine out. Online ordering is paramount: One research report found that 40% of people like to place their order virtually, and they’ll spend between 13% and 26% more than if they had placed their order in-person. Other tech upgrades include kiosks at the restaurant entrance for placing orders, Wi-Fi access for customers, and tablets that allow for tableside payment processing. As a bonus, these innovations can help streamline operations and keep you competitive in a crowded restaurant landscape.

Encourage customer loyalty

Diners will come to your restaurant for quality food and service, and a rewards program will keep them coming back for more. The significance of these programs can’t be overestimated—more than half of diners (54%) rated loyalty programs as “extremely important” to them when choosing where to eat out. Creating a restaurant loyalty program is a great way to offer customer perks and incentives; it’s also a valuable method of building positive relationships with your clientele and enhancing your brand.

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Hold the (mobile) phone

Online ordering, apps, rewards programs—to make all of them run successfully, you’ve got to be optimized for mobile phones. Plus, it’s critical if you want your restaurant to be noticed. One study found that 37% of people use their phones to learn more about a new restaurant, while 49% use their devices to look at menus. If your restaurant website isn’t mobile-friendly, now’s the time to give it an overhaul. Allow people to scan your location, hours of service, and menu items easily and quickly from their phones. You also want to make sure your restaurant information (especially the address and phone number) are up to date on search engines or websites such as Allmenus, Google My Business, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Citysearch—since between 81% and 92% of people use them on their phones to search for restaurants.

Build your social network

The immediacy of Instagram and Facebook, among other social channels, lets you connect with diners every day and keeps you top of mind when your followers are deciding where to eat. You can provide useful information in your posts, such as specials of the day, tasting menus, or contests and promotions. A gorgeous photo of your new craft cocktail or signature entree is powerful (and free) advertising. And behind-the-scenes videos of your pastry chef whipping up a dessert gives people the chance to get to know your restaurant and builds a strong brand. If you want your social channel to be image-heavy, it can be worth it to work with a photographer to shoot a batch of photos and videos you can use over a period of time. And remember that you want to be responsive to people posting and commenting on your channels—it shows you are invested in excellent service online and in-person.

Build community in your community

Repeat customers will often be locals—the people who make your restaurant “their place” to go when they want to eat out. To establish roots, make sure to be a part of your community. This could mean donating gift cards to the neighborhood school’s fundraising auction or serving food at an event sponsored by a nonprofit organization. You may also want to host in-person or virtual events at your restaurant, such as cooking lessons or a session on wine pairings. If you are invested in your community, your community will invest in your restaurant.

Make takeout and delivery permanent

Even before COVID-19, Americans found delivery and takeout service convenient, with about 60% of people saying they took advantage of those options at least once a week. If you spent the time and money to pivot your restaurant to curbside or delivery service during the pandemic, it will likely be worth it to continue that part of your business in order to keep up with consumer trends.

Train your team

A vibrant regular clientele can make all the difference when it comes to increasing your sales; Harvard Business School states that “increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.” One of the best ways to make a first-time customer a regular is by providing impeccable service. Unattentive waiters, orders filled incorrectly, or water glasses not replenished during a meal can mar the dining experience, no matter how great the food is. But friendly, solicitous service elevates a meal and enhances customer satisfaction. A warm and knowledgeable waitstaff has another plus: enthusiastic and detailed descriptions of entrees, specials, drinks, and desserts can help upsell customers and increase revenue.

Running a successful restaurant requires creativity, and you can apply that same creative streak to growing your business and increasing sales. Combining digital and interpersonal service techniques can help your restaurant flourish and thrive for the long term.

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