The dining out culture is in. Changing food habits of the young ‘Millennial’ generation is significantly contributing to this trend.“New data from LendEDU, which surveyed 1,000 Americans ages 22 to 37, found that 49 per cent spend more on dining out.”
The millennial generation of guests have mushroomed globally and are single-handedly driving restaurant businesses. While they call themselves the ‘food buffs’, you as a restauranteur need to adopt new strategies to sell your menu to these tech-savvy travellers and thereby drive sales to your restaurant. Remember that this segment is well-read and possess exposure to global trends and lifestyles. Also, their high spending power needs to be stressed upon as it is a major factor for driving the growth index of the hospitality industry. Not only do the millennials like to eat out, but they are also giving restaurants a boost in sales by sharing positive experiences (especially via online reviews and free word-of-mouth campaigns). Let’s check out a few interesting stats and graphs about millennials and their influence on restaurants.
Identifying Competition & Beating them to boost Sales
You also need to stay informed about cut-throat competition in your business. We are sure you already are but you have to segment your competition under broader heads. For instance, other restaurants are no longer your only competitors. Supermarkets and convenience stores these days have begun to sell ready-to-eat meal-kits and packaged frozen food. Adding to the complexity in the horizon are food home delivery startups and food trucks. You have to think of new ways to increase revenue in your restaurant. Here are a few local restaurants sales tips to help you stay put on the right track.
1. Emphasize on Upselling
You need to concentrate on raising your profits by 5-10% through upselling alone. Boosting sales can help you acquire these numbers. For instance: Restaurant-A threw an extra dessert into a couple of dinners and free appetizers in group dinners. Restaurant-B taught their staff various tactics to convince a customer to add larger fries to order or add an expensive appetizer. Only their top-performing salespeople were chosen for this job. You can adopt a strategy like that too or similar ones to see a rise in orders and revenue.
2. Adopt Restaurant Technology
Your primary target consumers are the millennials. These people do not experience a restaurant without a smartphone, unlike their older counterparts.
According to research by Zizzi, 18-35-year-olds spend five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30 per cent would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram presence was weak.
For that matter, today it is totally acceptable to sit down at a restaurant and order food right away, as you have already spent time pondering over what to order while researching about the restaurant online and on apps. Social media — Instagram in particular — has changed the way millennials or Generation Z thinks about food. “Instagram food trends provide aesthetically pleasing images that also promote a certain lifestyle,” says Amanda Baker Lemelin, R.D., a registered dietitian in private practice in Chicago. “Because all of us are on our phones throughout much of the day, it’s another way to connect with other people seeking to live this lifestyle.”
Customers prefer to stay on top of food trends (which are influenced by hashtags on social media like Twitter and Instagram). Besides, they carry out basic functions like reserving tables, ordering ahead of time, reading ratings and reviews, making special requests, posting meal reviews so on and so forth – through their smartphones. So the basic idea is to have a presence at every stage of your potential customer’s eating-out journey. How? By first launching a mobile-friendly site or an app. It has to have nothing less than responsive web design. Later, you need to incorporate online ordering to accommodate requests of this crowd. 73% of diners agree that restaurant technology improves their guest experience. (Source) Following stats are proof that restauranters across the globe have actually benefited from restaurant tech adoption.
- 95% of restaurateurs agree that restaurant technology improves their business efficiency. (Source)
- Research from the National Restaurant Association indicates that technology, including online ordering, is playing a larger role in how restaurants attract more customers: 36% of customers say they are more likely to use technology options in restaurants than they were two years ago. 8 in 10 consumers agree that restaurant technology enhances convenience. (Source)
3. Leverage Social Media
When it comes to social media, restaurants are comfortable using Facebook (92% of restaurants) and while they are not as likely to use YouTube (10% of restaurants) as others. (Source) Research shows that by the third quarter of 2019, Facebook attracted over 500 Million monthly active users and 100 million on Instagram (those who logged in during the last 30 days), making it the most popular social network platform worldwide. So Facebook and Instagram are exactly where all your potential and current customers are flocking. Across the globe, eating out has become a popular part of the average person’s celebrations which include birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. This year, over 200 million Facebook posts carried the hashtag #food and 35 million people actually shared photographs from their eating-out experiences! This is driving restaurant owners to spend considerably on Facebook and Instagram advertising. To be specific, we noticed that on Facebook, about 88% of restaurants are paying for marketing (source). Besides, a restaurant is more likely to not pay for advertising than it is to advertise on television in 2018. (Source) Which makes Facebook advertising inevitable for you as a restauranteur as of now.
4. Focus on Repeat Business
A Harvard study of the restaurant industry revealed that if you can increase the number of repeat customers by 5%, you can increase your profits by 25% to 125%. In order to boost your repeat business numbers, a good way is to start a loyalty program. In case you do not have time to plan a loyalty program ground-up, you can consider having a POS system in place to take care of the same from scratch. Honestly, 50% of restaurants like you do not have a POS and that is the main reason why they are missing out on true action in the hospitality space.
Why use POS Software for your local Restaurant
Consider adopting a point-of-sale (POS) system as its the basic foundation on the road to implement a loyalty program for your food business as well as make it successful. Such a system will manage customer data efficiently. For example, you can tie your food delivery with the POS and simultaneously reward customers for every interaction!
- Did you know? Millennials actually prefer restaurants that have an active loyalty program over its competitors. It has been observed that loyalty program awarding points on every dollar spent are 35% more preferred by millennials. This is closely followed by restaurant loyalty programs that encourage discounts.
Loyalty Program for Local Restaurants
Nevertheless, there has been a proliferation in fine dining restaurants which includes cafes, pubs, lounges and fast food joints. All of them are already out there, catering to your customers’ taste buds as well as spoiling them (especially the Millenials) with robust loyalty programs. In order to keep your customers hooked for a long time, you have to be right at their fingertips. Try by initiating the brand recall.
5. Actionable Tips to Initiate a Brand Recall for your Restaurant’s Customer
Immediately get your restaurant listed on locally popular third-party delivery apps. You can try DoorDash, Yelp, Swiggy, Zomato, GrubHub, Eatigo, Foodpanda and Uber Eats etc.
Build brand identity and keep your messaging crisp and consistent. When your words reach your customers through your marketing campaigns on social media, local Maps through Google My Bussines your customer should be able to recall your brand name, tagline and logo – at once!
For example – KFC has done a great job at naming itself and ensuring brand recall in the logo and tagline too.
Kentucky Fried Chicken – It’s finger-lickin’ good!
Brand Recall – KFC
6. Claim Foothold on Various Portals/Google My Business
Do not forget to add or list your restaurant business information on Google Maps, Search, and other Google properties. It is also important to create a Google My Business listing to get spotted easily when a customer is looking for you. After creating, it will look like this:
Local Restaurants Sales Tips: Google My Business Listing for your Local Restaurant
The below infographic will help you understand how to create a Google My Business listing for your restaurant. Additionally, you can also get listed on local restaurant listing apps and if your budget permits. Not to forget, do carry out SMS marketing about special deals and offers during a festive season.
Create a Google My Business Listing
7. Communicate with Customers and Employees
You can start out by highlighting your ‘employee of the month’ on social media and also on your restaurant’s notice board.
This will boost your employee’s morale and they will stay motivated enough to show up on schedule every day. When it comes to communicating with customers deeply, you need to make them feel cosy and familiar at your restaurant. In order to do so, address them as Mr X instead of just Sir/Madam. This is a way of encouraging your staff to build a rapport with certain frequent customers. You may also design a separate take-out menu for the frequent visitors or even add special perks for them if your budget permits. Other ways to communicate closely with people are;
- You can choose to participate in local food events
- You might as well donate food locally for noble causes (eg. in relief camps and orphanages).
8. Pay heed to your Business Website’s SEO
The world is highly connected today – thanks to high-speed internet. A few keystrokes presumably render all the right answers! Just so you know, your potential customers, especially the Millennials, are turning to Google repetitively for answers, even while they are looking for a new restaurant, a sushi place or even a fast-food joint. In “Mobile Path-to-Purchase,” it was found that mobile search behaviour – by people who search the Internet for good food using their phones or tablets – has a nearly 90 per cent conversion rate.
We are trying to say that having a jazzy looking website will not suffice your purpose. You need to ensure that your restaurant website comes up on the first page of Google search for exact queries entered by your potential customers.
How? Simply by investing in an SEO expert or agency right away. Doing so will help you reroute locality, traffic, customer sentiment, and structured data to benefit your business. Thankfully, the way your restaurant website has performed on Google till date does not matter (phew!). There is always scope for improvement, says Google. This can be done easily through search engine optimization (SEO).
Let me tell you that SEO can be very difficult and confusing. But, it’s vital if you want to succeed in the digital hospitality world. SEO done right will ensure that your restaurant website stays on top of organic searches. In case this made sense, I would like to add that paid ads running on Google for your restaurant will show up above organic results. This will direct all the more visitors to your website and thereby increase your online booking numbers by leaps and bounds. So SEO + Paid ads are the right mix to ensure you stay put on Google’s page 1 ranking.
Local Restaurants Sales Tips – SEO to Drive More Sales to a Local Restaurant
9. Increase Prices on parts of the Menu
- The new breed of customers – millennials – expect much more from their dining experience.
87% will actually order a nice and expensive meal, even when they have less money. (Source)
In such a case, you must slowly and steadily increase prices regularly to keep up with rising costs. Another way would be to come up with price-specific offers like McDonald’s $1 $2 3 Dollar Menu – it drives sales for the brand! You can also build a model like that to adjust your restaurant’s menu for bulk sales. Another example would be, if a low-cost pizzeria opens near your Italian restaurant, you will have to produce and deliver high-quality (and pricey) entrees without fail. That will give you a competitive edge. The thumb rule here would be “Do not relax your standards.”
As a new age restauranter, you cannot simply overlook the power of technology. Restaurant tech can help you surpass evolving competitors as well as disruptors to drive sales to your restaurant. Apart from going that way, a major factor you need to consider is to strike a delicate balance between acquiring brand new customers (like the millennials) as well as retaining existing customers (with the help of loyalty programs). Additionally, it is also crucial to analyze new competitors immediately. Only then you will be able to identify potential drains on your business and accordingly tackle them before it gets too late. That is the key to drive sales to your restaurant business in today’s digital world.