The restaurant business is not like most businesses.  Focusing time on how to increase or maximize sales in a restaurant is not a daily function that is usually given specific priority in most restaurants.  Going through your daily routines, you’re focused primarily on the day’s operational priorities.  It takes talent and perseverance just to get through daily operations more now than ever.  I get it.  But it’s important to remain open to opportunities and possibilities that can maximize your restaurant’s sales.  If “getting through it” is the main or only priority in your restaurant, there are great sales opportunities slipping right through your fingers.

Knowing what it is you don’t know

Think about this one for a moment.  We all know there are things that we don’t know.  More to the point, there are important things that we don’t even know that we don’t know.  Get your head around that one.

Well, here are two challenges that you may not even recognize that you have:

  1.   Slower business periods are not the only areas with room for improvement
  2.   A lineup at the door is no guarantee of maximized sales

Since rush periods should represent your highest sales and profit points, thinking about how to increase and maximize restaurant sales is an idea usually dedicated to slower business periods.  Unfortunately, rather than focusing on the great opportunities during a busy period, we usually focus on simply getting through it.

Sales opportunities in your lineups!

So, here are some challenges I’m proposing that you might not know you have:

  1. Don’t take the business from people lined up at the door for granted.  Not everyone in line waits/stays, and you want to make sure you make them feel looked after, even as they wait.  If they feel ignored, they could decide to leave.  Be sure to communicate with them, and give them some certainty about how long the wait might be.  You can positively affect the guest’s frame of mind and how open they are to your hospitality & suggestions at the table.
  2. People don’t usually plan to wait in line when they plan a restaurant visit.  If they have to wait in line, they have less time at the table, especially in a working day lunch.  So, you both may not be getting the most out of their visit, even once they’re seated.
  3. The next challenge is how to turn that potential into a real and profitable increase in sales.  Yes, an increase.  This requires that you take action to think and operate differently.

Keep an open mind to the sales possibilities

You need to be open to the possibility that you may not be operating to your full potential, and that you have room to grow.  Over the years I’ve worked with countless restaurant managers who are unwilling to admit they might be able to continue to learn & grow, benefit from getting help, and who fail to recognize and act on opportunities.  As a leader in your restaurants, it’s up to you to set the example for your teams and to set your pride aside to allow room for that growth.  Only then will you allow for your serving teams to also recognize those opportunities and begin working toward growth.

So, where are the sales opportunities?

  1. Recognize that even when your restaurant is full, you may not be maximizing sales.
  2. Tend to every guest with hospitality & offer some certainty about their visit from the moment they arrive, not only so they stay, but so they are relaxed and in a positive frame of mind, open to hospitality and suggestions
  3. Ensure all guests’ time at the table is handled efficiently and respect that they may have time limits
  4. Ensure empty tables are cleared, re-set and filled with urgency for productive table turns
  5. Now you have added table turns and guests who are open to your suggestions.  Add to the average sale of those tables by changing the mindset and language of the server.