How to increase restaurant sales: 7 steps for success

Feeling the pressure to amp up your restaurant’s sales figures? 💸

Don’t worry — you’re not alone. 

The average profit margin for restaurants decreased from 2022 (10.3%) to 2023 (9.3%), with 67% of restaurants increasing their menu prices to try and close the gap.

But what if instead of hiking menu prices, you found a way to increase restaurant sales instead? 

That’s exactly what we’re going to cover in this article! Keep reading to explore seven simple but effective strategies that can bring more guests through the doors and boost your revenue. 

1. Use real-time restaurant technology

Restaurant technology is your best friend when it comes to restaurant sales. Why? Because it helps you understand your financial performance and identify ways to improve it. 
Take a look at Nory as an example (that’s us — hi 👋). With our AI-powered technology, restaurant operators can identify customer trends and preferences.

Nory sales insights on desktop and mobile

By better understanding your customers, you can create tailored menus to match their preferences. For example, you can pinpoint your most popular items and create a menu that aligns with those items. 

The results? More customers that want to dine in your restaurant. 

Fun fact 🤪 You can also use Nory to find ways to minimise costs, like optimising your labour scheduling or improving your inventory management. Although this doesn’t technically increase your revenue, it can boost your gross profit margins

Think about it — if you’re only buying ingredients you need, you’re spending less on food that’s going to waste. This means your profit margins go up even if your revenue doesn’t. 

Don’t believe us? Find out how Clean Kitchen used Nory’s real-time insights to increase its GP by 4%

“Having that visibility and insight and being able to instantly adapt to what’s happening within the business is massive. We can make quick decisions to control our costs and ensure we’re delivering consistently good-quality food to our customers.”

Adam Jefferies, Head of Operations at Clean Kitchen 

2. Market your restaurant

Digital marketing is a great way to get the word out about your restaurant. It helps you reach a wider audience, build relationships with potential customers, and encourage more people to dine with you.

Here are some tips for using social media to increase restaurant sales: 

  • Use the right channels. Make sure you’re using the right social channels to reach the right audience. Otherwise, you’ll spend time and money posting on platforms that aren’t reaching the people you want to target. Take a look at recent studies to find out which demographics are using certain channels. 

Engage with followers. Start building relationships with potential customers by interacting with them online. Reply to comments and questions to get the rapport

Example of a restaurant replying to customer comments on Instagram
  • Collaborate with local influencers: Many restaurants invite food bloggers and content creators to come in for free meals in exchange for content on their social media. It’s a great way to grab the attention of your desired target market, and also add credibility to your restaurant. People are more likely to trust your restaurant if someone they follow has already been there! 

3. Engineer your menu

Menu engineering involves carefully considering each aspect of your menu. From its design and layout to pricing and item placement — it all influences the customers’ decision-making process. 

If you engineer your menu as effectively as possible, you can encourage customers to choose higher-margin items. For example, if you know that pepperoni pizzas are your top seller, you might do the following:

  • Add a “chef special” section that features this pizza front and centre, drawing the eye to it immediately
  • Increase the price slightly to increase your revenue and raise profit margins. 
  • Include the pepperoni pizza as part of a meal deal to encourage customers to buy more food. 

Hot tip 🔥 Use restaurant management technology to optimise your menus as effectively as possible! With real-time sales data, you can identify top-performing items and adjust your menu accordingly. 

4. Take advantage of retail and branded products

Add an additional stream of revenue by offering merchandise and other items for customers to buy in your restaurant. 

Here are some of the products you might want to sell: 

  • Food, ingredients, or spice mixes: Identify popular or unique items on your menu that can be packaged for retail. This could be anything from your homemade pasta sauce to a spice mix that gives your dishes a distinct flavour.
  • Merchandise: Create branded merchandise that resonates with your brand’s identity. T-shirts, hats, aprons, and reusable bags not only serve as additional revenue streams, but also as marketing tools when worn in public. It raises brand awareness for your restaurant! 
  • Online sales: Set up an online store to sell your products and merchandise. This allows your loyal customers and even those who have never visited your restaurant to purchase a piece of it to enjoy at home.

5. Upsell, but make it subtle

Upselling involves encouraging customers to buy additional items on top of their original order. It takes skill to do it well, as you don’t want to come across too forcefully. But when done well, it can enhance the dining experience while increasing the average order size. 

Here’s how to do it effectively:

  • Train your staff: Ensure your team understands the menu thoroughly and can recommend complementary items without coming across as pushy or salesy. This includes suggesting premium sides, upgrading drinks, or offering desserts. 
  • Create pairing menus: Design menus that suggest food and drink pairings, such as wine with cheese or specific dishes. This encourages customers to try something new while increasing their order value. 
  • Highlight specials: Use table tents, digital displays, or verbal recommendations to highlight daily specials or premium items, making it easy for guests to choose add-ons.

6. Provide deals and packages

Attract new customers, encourage repeat visits, and increase your average order value (AOV) by offering smart deals and discounts in your restaurant. After all, who doesn’t love a good bargain?

Chef standing at food station

There are a few different ways to offer deals to customers: 

  • Run a loyalty program: Implement a loyalty program that rewards customers with discounts or free items after a certain number of visits or money spent. You can incentivise spending by offering lower prices, meal deals, and even free menu items. 
  • Bundled meal deals: Create meal packages that offer a slight discount when items are purchased together, such as a burger, fries, and a drink combo.
  • Create seasonal promotions: Offer limited-time discounts or special menus during holidays or local events to attract those looking for a unique dining experience. For example, you might create a Christmas menu towards the end of the year, or a plant-based menu that aligns with a local vegan festival. 

7. Enhance customer service

Exceptional customer service can increase restaurant sales in a couple of ways.

First of all, it can turn a one-time visitor into a regular customer. If they enjoy the experience at your restaurant, they’re more likely to return. Secondly, it can help you get positive online reviews. And the better your reviews are, the more chance you have of attracting new customers

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can improve the customer dining experience: 

  • Train staff effectively: Invest in regular training sessions for your staff to ensure they are knowledgeable about the menu, efficient in service, and skilled in handling any situation that arises.
  • Create a feedback loop: Implement a system for collecting and acting on customer feedback. This shows that you value their input and are committed to improving their dining experience.
  • Create a personalised dining experience: Provide diners with a unique and tailored dining experience by offering personalised menu recommendations, wine pairings, and so on. 

Hot tip 🔥 Restaurant technology can really help you personalise the customer experience. A digital loyalty scheme, for example, will show you which menu items are the most popular for each customer. Then, you can create an incentive that appeals to each diner individually. 

Ready to boost your restaurant sales? Work with Nory 

Increasing restaurant sales feels like a big undertaking. That’s because it is — we’re not trying to minimise the amount of work it takes. But there are changes and improvements you can make to help you get there. 

Hopefully, this article has given you some inspiration on what to do to get your restaurant sales above the line. And if you want to give yourself the best chance of increasing revenue, get in touch with the team at Nory. 

Our real-time insights can help you make quick and informed decisions to improve your bottom line.

Discover how Dr. Juice achieved a 43% surge in sales per labour hour using Nory.

Dig into the case study to learn more.

Read the story
Dr Juice Success Story with Nory

FAQs about restaurant sales 

How can I increase sales in my restaurant?

There are various ways to boost restaurant sales, including:

  • Offering promotions and discounts
  • Optimising your menu with high-margin items
  • Improving customer service
  • Leveraging social media for marketing

These are just a few examples. Read back through the article for some more inspiration! 

What is the formula for restaurant sales?

There are a few ways to calculate restaurant sales. The basic formula for calculating your average revenue is:

Number of customers × Average spend per customer = Average revenue

You can break this down even further into specific meal periods or menu categories if you want a deeper understanding of margins and areas for growth. Or, you can use a platform like Nory to do it for you! 

How important is social media in marketing my restaurant?

Did you know that 5.7 billion people use social media? With the sheer volume of people on these platforms, we’d have to say yes — restaurants need to use social media marketing. It helps you build brand awareness, reach a wider pool of people, engage with customers, and attract new diners.  

What are some psychological tricks for menu engineering?

Besides descriptive labels, consider the visual hierarchy of your menu. Place high-margin items where the eyes naturally go and make them pop on the page. Limiting choices can also reduce decision fatigue, and using appetising images can encourage people to order more items. 

Can I really make money from branded products?

Absolutely! Branded products like sauces, spice blends, or merchandise can generate additional revenue streams and increase brand visibility. It’s a win-win. 

What kind of unique experiences can I offer?

Another way to generate additional sales is to host fun and unique events at your restaurant. 

Think cooking classes, seasonal feasts, or guest chef nights — anything that attracts a crowd and provides diners with a memorable experience.