Running a foodservice business requires a lot of hard work and dedication. And although working towards a long-term goal is crucial, it’s nice to have some quick wins along the way. That’s why we gathered 10 of them to help boost your margins right away.
1. Reinvent your basics
Let’s start off with an easy margin maker: upgrading your current offering. Fries, for example, are perfect for a first quick win. Imagine you serve regular fries with most of your dishes. For a little extra (say, EUR 1) your guests can upgrade their regular fries to seasoned Twister fries. This gives people the feeling they can alter their dishes to their liking, and you profit from the higher margins these products have. Win-win if you ask us. (Of course, you can also do this with sauces, vegetables, or other side dishes).
2. Present smart pairing suggestions
Providing a great dining experience doesn’t end with serving your best dishes (or offering upgrades!). Drinks are crucial, even more so when it comes to boosting your margins. That’s why it can be very smart to add pairing suggestions to your menu. Serving small pub bites? Offer matching specialty beers. Ready for more traffic during cocktail hour? Add fancy snacks that complement their Cosmopolitan, Moscow Mule or Virgin Pina Colada. The possibilities are endless to surprise and advise your guests. Because in the end, happy guests equal happy margins.
3. Introduce limited time offers
Scarcity makes people want to have it even more (before it’s gone!). Just think about the long lines of people waiting to get limited edition Jordans, art lovers that invest in an original piece, or people that show off their new custom car. In food that’s no different and already much accepted. For example, take international chains that offer ‘Christmas-themed’ burgers in winter and specialty fries around a world championship, generating more traffic and making a lot of money due to higher margins. It can be smart to adopt this principle to your own restaurant, using social media to inform (potential) customers about your own limited time offer.
4. Start merchandising!
When searching for margin makers, you sometimes need to think outside the box. So, let’s approach your restaurant as if you would approach a brand. A brand that sells food and… merchandise. Why not? When you already have a strong (online) community it could be a great way to get some extra cashflow. Just take Hard Rock Café, where you can buy country or city-related shirts and pins with the restaurant logo on it. Collectors’ items and real money makers. You can even think about making a limited edition line, because, as you know, scarcity works!
5. Let data drive your business!
Numbers don’t lie and are a great way to make decisions for your restaurant and its offering. Many chains already have smart ways to collect data, via a loyalty app for example. Such apps show you which age groups buy which type of dishes, how often they order, etcetera. This helps you to adjust your menu or send specific promotions. Unfortunately, these apps are costly and time-consuming. So, let’s take a step back by manually analyzing your existing data: track the number of dishes you’ve sold, which ones are most popular, and how many dishes people order at what time of the day. Over time, this provides you with valuable insights on which you can act immediately. From boosting certain dishes to upselling desserts or upgrading side dishes.
6. Follow up on feedback!
Who knows best what your guests want than… your guests? So, let them have a say in your offering. Start a conversation with customers that visit your outlet frequently. Ask them why they keep coming back (so you can enhance this experience even more) but also what they would change or improve if they were the boss. You can also use your social media channels to ask for feedback or even set out a competition to come up with a new dish. This way, listening to your (potential) guests equals more business and therefore more revenue.
7. Tell the story behind your food
People are more (emotionally) connected to what they eat when there is a great story behind it. Take wine for example. A sommelier enthusiastically tells about its origin, the farmer, the region it is grown and its chocolaty aftertaste. This way of storytelling makes guests willing to pay more for it. So why not use this knowledge for your own restaurant? To get you started we collected all kinds of tips & tricks to let this insight work to your advantage (and margins). Read all about it in this article!
8. Create a cool scene
Let’s be honest, as it comes to food: looks are as important as taste. Guests will take their time taking pictures of your dishes before they dive into it. When they post it online you get instant (and free) publicity! But it’s not only food your guests are after. Having an Instagrammable décor helps to boost your online presence as well. A tip? Create a wall, nook and/or area that is designed especially for making awesome pictures. From a neon sign of a catchy quote to a restaurant themed photo booth. Just get creative and turn your restaurant into a Instagrammable hotspot people just have to go to (and are happy to spend some more money on!).
9. Hit a homerun with home delivery
Home delivery is a hot topic and definitely here to stay. That’s why it can be very beneficial to look into the opportunities of making more money of your delivery activities.
- Create a dedicated home-delivery menu
Pick out ‘home-delivery-proof’ ingredients that will spark joy. This will keep your customers coming back for more and improve your bottom line.
- Hire your own delivery staff
Having happy delivery staff, who are always open for chit chat when handing over a bag full of deliciousness at your customer’s door, is priceless. After all, who wouldn’t want to reorder after a great interaction?
- Build your own delivery platform
Invest in setting up your own delivery platform (as part of your website) to minimize the high commissions you have to pay for using home-delivery apps.
- Use social media to your advantage
Target your customers on Facebook, Instagram or TikTok with new offers. When you’ve made a guest happy once, they come back to you more easily. Especially when you give them a little nudge!
10. Reinvent the classics
People love their classics, from a well-made pasta to a delicious portion of fish & chips. This doesn’t mean that they’re not open for trying a new and surprising take on their favorites (and pay a little extra for it!). To help you get started we asked Jeroen van Oijen, the creative chef behind Culiversity, to give a culinary twist to 10 country-classic dishes. Ready to get inspired by these culinary margin markers? Check them out here!