It’s no secret that the cost of running is restaurant is rising. Bills are getting more expensive, food costs are growing, and wages are up. In the current climate, increasing prices is necessary to maintain profitability. But the thought of it fills operators with dread that they will lose all of their hard earned customers!
Even McDonald’s has spiked prices. Last year, they increased the price of their cheeseburger for the first time in 14 years, going from £0.99 to £1.19. If that doesn’t tell you to increase your prices, we don’t know what will!
So fear not, there are ways you can boost prices without scaring customers away – and we’ll show you how. Plus, we’ll take a look at the steps you can take to minimise your costs before you have to increase prices.
Let’s get to it!
How to Maintain Customer Loyalty When Increasing Prices
A survey from UKHospitality found that 55% of food operators haven’t raised menu prices to match their own cost increases. And we get it — raising prices can feel pretty daunting. Will it scare customers away? Will you get bad online reviews for hiking prices?
The truth is, if you increase prices in the right way, customers won’t be shocked into never returning.
Here are some things to consider that’ll encourage customers to keep dining at your restaurant even if you have to increase your prices.
Don’t Change Too Many Things at Once
Increasing prices across the board is a surefire way to scare customers away, especially regulars who are familiar with your current prices.
Instead, think about upping prices on a few menu items first. That way, it’s not such a shock for diners when they go to order their favourite meal and find out they’re paying more than they thought.
So how do you decide which menu items to increase?
Prioritise the quickest wins. For example, find menu items that give you the best profit margins with the smallest price increase. Or, you could choose the most popular items to get the most rewards in the quickest amount of time.
Raise Menu Prices Gradually
Another way to make the transition easier for customers is to up your prices gradually.
Let’s say you want to increase the price of your margarita pizza by 10%. Up it by 5% in the first quarter, and another 5% in the following quarter.
Breaking it down over time makes it easier for customers to digest (excuse the pun). Plus, it’s less noticeable, so they’re less likely to be shocked by the increase.
Of course, this only works if you have the time to spread the increase. If you’re struggling and need to boost prices pronto, be transparent about it. Explain to customers why your prices have increased, and they’ll be much more open to paying a slightly higher price.
Increase Customer Value
When you increase menu prices, try to focus on adding value for your diners.
For example, you might increase the portion size of certain dishes when you raise the price to make it more worthwhile for customers. This gives customers the feeling that the food is worth the higher price.
However, you need to make sure that adding value doesn’t cut into your profits.
Here’s what we mean:
If you choose to increase your portion sizes, you need to check that the meal is still growing your profit margins. If you increase the price but still make the same profit because of the amount of food on the plate, you’re not doing yourself any favours. In fact, you’re doing the opposite.
So what should you do?
Work out how much each plated meal costs you to make and weigh it up against the new price. That way, you can work out if the larger portion is helpful for your profit margins.
Double Down on Quality
People are willing to pay more for quality food. A survey from YouGov found that 80% of millennials say quality is important to their purchase decision.
So, if you provide diners with top-quality grub, they’re more likely to pay the higher price.
Here are some of the ways you can improve the quality of your meals:
- Sourcing better ingredients. Although it’s tempting to reduce costs and choose the cheapest ingredients, this doesn’t always bode well for quality. If you can afford to, try to find better quality ingredients to create your meals and improve the flavours.
- Training chefs. Make sure all your chefs are up-to-speed on the most effective way to cook and prepare food. Provide them with training, support, and mentorship to develop their culinary skills, enhance their pallet, and create top-quality dishes.
- Improving presentation. Although this doesn’t technically relate to the quality of the food, it does impact the customers’ perception of the food. And studies have found that people are willing to pay up to £28 more for food that looks good on their Instagram grid. So, make sure meals are well-plated to enhance the dining experience.
Run Strategic Offers
Running strategic offers is a good way to help customers feel like they’re getting more for their money. You increase your prices, but they get a good deal — it’s a win-win!
Have a look at a couple of offers you could run in your restaurant to increase customer satisfaction:
- Loyalty offers. Punchcards (physical or virtual) allow customers to collect points every time they buy from you. After collecting a certain number of points, they get a reward, like a free side or discount on their total bill.
- Off-peak deals. Offer combo deals or LTOs to give customers a sweet deal and increase sales during quieter periods. This could be a main, a side, and a drink for a set price — but remember to check your margins first to ensure it’s worthwhile.
Monitor the Impact of Increasing Prices
AI-powered tools and smart data can be incredibly useful when it comes to pricing.
Because they help you predict patterns in your performance and the hospitality industry as a whole. With these insights, you can beat inflation and price your menu to stay ahead of the curve.
It also helps you track and measure the success of your price increase.
Take a look at Nory as an example. With our software, you can track menu sales. If you up your prices for certain items and sales start to drop off, you can see it instantly. Then, you can make an informed decision about how to react.
Should You Always Raise Prices?
In the current climate, it’s unlikely that you won’t have to raise any of your prices to keep up with inflation. Having said that, there are some measures you can take to lower your costs and prevent large price increases.
Here’s what you can do:
- Optimise menu items. Mindfully adapting portion sizes, engineering your menu to minimise waste, and creating new menu items with cheaper ingredients are some of the ways to increase margins with your existing menu items without hiking prices.
- Streamline your supply chain. Review your current supply chain and identify areas where you can reduce your costs. This could be finding new suppliers, negotiating prices, or finding ways to make the supply chain more efficient (like automating processes).
- Review operating hours. If you don’t have enough customers coming through the door, should you be open? Closing during quiet periods can save you a lot of money on operating costs and staff wages, which boosts your overall margins. Keep an eye on your sales per labour hour.
- Set budgets and targets. Take a look at your sales and performance data to set targets for your restaurant. This will give you a clear picture of what your current profit margins are, how consistent you are in achieving them and ultimately where you can reduce costs. Take a look at Passyunk Avenue as an example. Looking at the amount of time they spent on manual work, they knew they could increase profitability by streamlining their processes. Using Nory to make improvements, they’ve since reduced labour costs by 26% and increased their bottom-line profitability!
- Optimise labour scheduling. Improving your staff scheduling staff can save you quite a bit of money. For example, if you can predict fast and slow periods in your restaurant, you can schedule employees appropriately to deliver more revenue and to keep costs flat. This helps you save money on staff wages and keeps your profit margins healthy. Find out more about creating a demand-based schedule!
Good news 🥳 You can do all of these things with Nory’s restaurant management platform! Check it out:
Use Nory to Strategically Increase Restaurant Prices
Increasing restaurant prices won’t always scare customers away. With the right techniques, you can strategically raise prices and keep customers happy.
To figure out the best way to increase your restaurant prices, use a restaurant management tool like Nory. With our software, you can analyse your sales data in real-time and make quick, informed pricing decisions.
Book a chat with the team to get the ball rolling!
FAQs About Restaurant Price Increases
Why Are UK Food Prices Going Up?
There are different factors causing food prices to increase in the UK. Inflation, supply chain disruptions, increasing labour costs, energy prices, consumer demand, and regulatory changes are all impacting the cost of food in restaurants.
What is the Food Inflation Rate in July 2023?
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), prices increased by 14.9% in July 2023 — the slowest annual growth rate since September 2022. Prices rose by 0.1% between June and July 2023, a much lower rate than the 2.3% rise between the same time in 2022.
How Much Does a Restaurant Meal Cost in the UK?
The ONS found that the average price of a pub hot meal was £11.05 in March 2023, increasing 13% from the previous year. Ultimately, the cost of a meal depends on the type of restaurant you go to and where it’s located (restaurants in London are far more likely to be more expensive than in smaller towns).