Increasing Customer Spend

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OK, you’ve done the hard bit, you’ve attracted the customer into your restaurant, they’ve chosen your place above all your competitors. Now the challenge is to maximize their spend while they are in your restaurant, while at the same time making sure they feel the experience was enjoyable and value for money. If you succeed in this you will have a repeat customer. It’s a tricky balance to achieve but if you get it right the benefits for your business are right there in the bottom line.

Of course, it might be tempting to bolt the door, ply them with cheap booze until they’ve spent all they’ve got but that method is borderline illegal so you’ll have look at more subtle ways increasing the customer spend when they visit.

1: Sides and Desserts

Having an attractive range of side orders that are priced at 2€ or under is a good way of getting your customers to add items to their main purchase. Onion rings, mushrooms in butter, potato wedges and spring rolls are all potential sides that a traditional fish and chip restaurant can offer at a low price so the customer feels they can add them to their order without spending a lot.

Desserts are also a good way of increasing spend, have free samples at the till that they can have while waiting. Look at what the big chains are doing and make your dessert options visible. The aim is for the question to change from ‘Are you having dessert?’ to ‘Which dessert are you having?. Another good technique is to get the customer to order dessert before they eat their main i.e. When they are still hungry.

2: Make total spend part of your reward programme 

A restaurant rewards programme that is based on how much a customer spends can encourage them to increase the amount of items they buy on each visit to the restaurant. If they spend over a certain amount they get an item free or a voucher for a return visit. Have a spend threshold that, if surpassed, triggers
the reward programme.

3: Educate your staff 

Train your staff in what you’re aiming to do and incentivise them to encourage each customer to spend more on each visit. If the staff hit or exceed your sales targets they in turn can be rewarded.

4: The Soft Sell

Customers hate to feel they are being pressured to buy things they don’t really want so make sure you see things from their point of view, make sure their experience in your restaurant is the best it can be while making sure they are aware of all the extras they can buy if they choose.

5: Upselling 

Would you like fries with that? – this classic McDonald’s line is simple perfection in upselling terms – it’s friendly, non-pressurising and gently suggests to the customer that they spend a little more. The other McDonald’s line – “Will I super-size that?” – was pretty much put out of circulation by Morgan Spurlock in his documentary, Super Size Me.

You probably want to avoid any phrase which suggests to the customer that they’ll be putting on size…
Your staff is your frontline upsellers so they need to have the right techniques. Each staff member must know the menu, ingredients, and ideally anecdotal stories about the food and which suppliers the restaurant uses. A clued-in server will know your customer personally and can make specific suggestions based on the customer and his or her ordering history. New menu items provide a great way to upsell – something along the lines of ‘We’re trying out this new sauce/side at a special rate for this week’.

Upselling doesn’t come easy for some people, so training servers is time well-spent. Create mock scenarios where servers can fine-tune their selling skills. Help them identify the highest profit items and encourage the staff to recommend these items when appropriate. The trick is to get them to do all this without being intrusive!

6: Always add value

Don’t just upsell for the sake of profit, although this is, of course, your ultimate aim. Customers will see right through this tactic. Get to know which products go well together and make a point to match well-suited menu items when upselling. If you can identify the perceived value in the upsell, your customers will be more likely to see it too.

By developing complimentary menu items and designing your sales process with the upsell in mind, you can create an environment where additional profits can be made. When in doubt, remember the McDonald’s model: there is potential for an upsell with every product.


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