Does your restaurant need a boost in profits? A variety of options are discussed below to send your business in the right direction:
Sell Restaurant-Branded Merch
Restaurants with a distinct style have loyal customers happy to flaunt their merchandise. Local and regional favorites are prime for profit with a variety of merchandise ready to order. This is especially great for establishments located in a tourist destination as souvenirs are commonly sought.
Many big-box restaurants have had success merchandising including Starbucks and Krispy Kreme. If you are a local startup of any kind, most likely you have a loyal customer base. Offer some basic items for purchase, such as t-shirts, baseball caps, coffee mugs, pint glasses, or sell your private-recipe sauce.
When selecting merchandise, be sure to follow these rules to ensure revenue growth:
- Items selected must reflect your restaurant’s values and lifestyle and be high quality. T-shirts should be soft, imprints should be clear, and colors should be pleasing.
- Be creative. Select items that relate to your business in unique ways. Locate vendors who provide trendy and modern impulse items like kitchen accessories, socks, coffee mugs, pint glasses, and postcards.
- Proudly display your items! Have a small display of your items near your cash registers or entryway, with prices clearly marked. If you have custom sauces, jams, or spice mixes, be sure to have samples available on tables for customers to try.
- Consider collaborating with other local businesses or partnerships you have.
- Sell your items on your website. This is a particularly good way to increase revenue from local and remote customers while selling additional types of branded merchandise. Remember to occasionally promote items through social media.
Some particular ways to sell merchandise for coffee shops are outlined here.
Offer Restaurant Gift Cards
While it is not a true revenue stream on its own, restaurant gift cards are a way to upsell and boost sales. Gift cards draw customers back, and they also bring in new customers. If you haven’t started selling gift cards yet, you are missing out on one of the easiest ways to generate more business for your restaurant. Oftentimes, customers with a gift card tend to spend more than they typically would.
Gift cards do not require plastic; however, should be tracked appropriately to hinder gift certificate fraud. Be sure to have expiration dates on gift certificates (paper versions). There are many creative sites online to produce gift certificates, such as canva.com, which can then be printed on cardstock.
A slight twist on gift cards is a booklet of coupons. There are several ways to go about this, from a free appetizer or drink to buy one get one free or half-off. Varieties range from winter-savings and back-to-school or specific a month. Again, be sure to have expiration dates and incorporate a watermark to hinder coupon fraud.
Write a Cookbook
While eating out is a significant part of social life, eating in has become a favored way to celebrate special occasions. It is no surprise with the continued production of reality and cooking shows that people now want to cook their favorite dishes at home. A perfect way to fulfill this need is to publish a cookbook.
Now, this does not mean to formally publish a book; it simply means to create a small booklet that can be mass-produced through a local print shop. Some restaurants opt for old-fashioned recipe cards sold as a set or baker’s dozen and tied with a lovely ribbon or placed inside a coordinating potholder.
Depending on your restaurant, this could be a way of increasing revenue and your restaurant’s reputation, as well as a steady source of income. Work closely with your cook or chef to ensure the recipes will work in a home kitchen. To build content, include stories and background of the house recipes, and include preparation tips and instructions.
Another way to market a cookbook is to collaborate with other local restaurants and create a local favorites cookbook. Often this style of cookbook does well when a portion of profits are donated to a local charity, such as a food bank or soup kitchen. These do especially well during the holiday season.
Offer Meal Kits by Delivery
A unique way to increase restaurant revenue is to offer meal kits for pickup or delivery. Much like a take-and-bake, all the ingredients for the dish are pre-measured and ready for cooking. Since restaurants are naturally set up for this line of business, it’s a matter of prepping and packaging the ingredients and having easy-to-follow directions.
Individual ingredients such as sauces, marinades, or time-consuming processes should be made in advance and packaged as an ingredient. Your customers will enjoy preparing your restaurant’s favorite dishes at home, whether it’s for friends or for a night alone. Customers can pick up their meal, or if you already deliver, then offer meal kits via delivery.
Offer Catering Services for Special Events, Conventions, and Festivals
Many restaurants offer catering services; however, it’s not always possible to run a full catering business and restaurant at the same time. Consider catering specific events, special occasions, holidays, conventions, festivals, or local fairs.
Most public events, conventions, and fairs will have a fee or application process. Be sure to target events where your target demographics attend. Additionally, partner with local event venues as a ‘preferred caterer’ with a specific menu for events, all based on your regular menu items.
With the options above, it is suggested to start small and see what your customer base is drawn to. Discuss with regular customers what types of merchandise or items they would consider buying. Then, as revenue flows, add more items and see your business grow in a new direction.