The restaurant industry has always been incredibly resilient — and this year is no exception. As the pandemic continues to transform the dining experience, restaurants are able to maintain or even increase sales by adapting to consumer trends. From off-premise dining to menu engineering to Instagram promotions, here are a few strategies to help increase restaurant sales this year.
Drive repeat business with a loyalty program
Making the effort to turn first-time customers into regulars pays off — in fact, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase profits by more than 25%. Create a loyalty program that makes sense for your business, whether you integrate a points system into your point of sale system, create your own app, or partner with a technology partner like DoorDash.
Analyze your menu profitability
Restaurant owners can increase revenue through menu engineering — a strategy to analyze the profitability and popularity of menu items. Start by breaking down costs for your dishes, including all ingredients, to determine the exact cost of each menu item (not including labor). Then, categorize menu items by profit and popularity levels to understand which items you should remove or give extra attention to, and adjust your offerings accordingly. Finally, redesign your menu with these insights in mind, using visual cues and compelling descriptions to highlight the most profitable and popular items that will increase your restaurant sales.
Focus on search engine optimization
77% of diners in the U.S. are likely to visit a restaurant's website before choosing to eat there. Your website is one of your best marketing tools — but it only works if people can find it while searching online. By focusing on a few basic search engine optimization (SEO) strategies, you can increase your chances of appearing in Google search results.
Make sure your website is easy to navigate and mobile-friendly and your Google My Business profile is up-to-date, since inaccurate information can be a turn-off for potential guests. Use Google Keyword Planner or other SEO tools to find the most relevant keywords to your business (e.g., "BBQ restaurants near Houston"), then add those keywords throughout your website and online content. The easier it is for people to find you, the more new customers you can attract.
Offer online delivery
Now more than ever, offering delivery is a great way to increase restaurant sales. According to a 2020 Technomic report, 74% of operators in the U.S. said their revenue has increased because of DoorDash since COVID-19. Delivery was already a growing trend before this year, and the pandemic has only accelerated it.
Partnering with a technology platform like DoorDash can help restaurants reach a whole different demographic — in fact, three out of four restaurants in the U.S. agree that DoorDash has allowed them to reach new customers. Take advantage of DoorDash's massive online reach and become a partner today.
Adjust your menu to consumer trends
As customer needs and preferences evolve, make sure you adapt to offer what they want. For example, 70% of restaurant guests today are looking for healthy options. You can also appeal to conscientious consumers by offering dishes made with organic and locally sourced ingredients.
And as people continue to stay home, restaurants are offering meal kits or family-style meals that can be delivered and heated up later. These larger portions will boost your margins while making it easier for families to share a restaurant-quality meal together.
Boost your social media presence
Social media enables restaurants and customers alike to share mouthwatering food photos that increase sales — in fact, #food is one of the top 50 most-used hashtags on Instagram. Capitalize on these hashtags by posting high-quality photos of your signature dishes, new menu additions, or items that could use a little extra attention.
Other content ideas include news announcements, such as updated operating hours, a new chef, or an upcoming event. And if you're on DoorDash, post about it on social media. You might reach customers who are thinking about their next meal, helping to boost your delivery and pickup sales.
Set up online ordering
Consumers today expect an Amazon-like experience from restaurants — and a seamless online ordering experience will keep them coming back. Not only does online ordering free up your staff from taking phone orders, but it helps you increase restaurant sales in a cost-effective way.
You can set up your own ordering platform on your website in-house, or partner with a third party. DoorDash now offers Storefront, which provides restaurants with branded online stores to enable pickup and delivery directly from their website, commission-free.
Whether you're catering to dine-in customers or fulfilling online orders, give customers the chance to upgrade. Coach your staff on upselling best practices so they can gracefully increase your restaurant sales. For example, when asked for recommendations, your servers can suggest items with higher profit margins or can highlight their own preferences by saying, "Can I offer you dessert tonight? Our crème brûlée is my personal favorite."
When DoorDash customers are finalizing their orders, our app automatically suggests additional sides and beverages in a "People also ordered" carousel, which is a simple way to increase the overall order size. We recommend including photos for all menu items, which increases add-on conversion by up to 25%.
Every restaurant is unique, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution to increase restaurant sales. That's why DoorDash offers a wide range of products to fit your needs, including delivery and pickup, white-label fulfillment, commission-free online ordering, and more.