It’s never a bad time to consider additional revenue streams for your restaurant. And what if you didn’t have to open more locations in order to expand your offerings and drive up your profits? Sometimes, a new strategy can be offered straight from your kitchen without having to look any further.
Here are three initiatives that allow you to get creative and give your business a boost while adding new revenue streams:
Offer delivery options
Gone are the days of pizza or Chinese food being the only food options for delivery. Thanks to online ordering companies like UberEats, Doordash or GrubHub (just to name a few), delivery is a growing part of the restaurant industry.
It’s estimated that 60 percent of consumers order delivery or takeout on a weekly basis—a rate that’s even higher among millennials—because of its’ convenience. Delivery isn’t right for every restaurant, but it can translate into increased profits and exposure if it’s a good fit for yours. Here are some things to consider when deciding to add delivery services to your restaurant.
Delivery does not equal “easy money”
While adding a delivery service to your restaurant can be a new source of revenue, it’s not as simple as cooking the food and getting it out the door. It requires careful execution, menu, services and logistics planning and quality assurance measures—all of which can cost a restaurant additional money. So determine if your price point provides a high enough profit margin for it to be worth the added overhead.
Beware of staffing issues.
One of the most challenging aspects of food delivery is staffing. Regulations in your area may require delivery drivers to be on your payroll or act as independent contractors, so in either case, it’s important to train your drivers since they’ll be the face of your brand at someone’s door (whether it’s their car, home or office).
Consider the pros and cons of outsourcing.
Many restaurants don’t have the necessary resources to start a delivery business, so they rely on third-party meal delivery services—but, the fees charged by such services can many times outweigh the profits. Delivery checks tend to be lower than in-house checks because customers aren’t typically ordering drinks, desserts and/or appetizers.
How will your food travel?
Some dishes simply won’t travel well, so you might not be able to offer every item for delivery. If an item doesn’t travel well, you’ll be at risk for bad reviews and lost customers if what they ordered arrives cold, misshapen or soggy. Limit your delivery menu to items that can safely and freshly make the trek in one piece to ensure accuracy, better quality and a simpler process.
Check your tech.
To get your delivery business running, you’ll need a system to track orders and get them out the door. Make sure your restaurant POS system can track deliveries and include customer data directly on the receipt.
Plan the logistics.
Will your delivery customers be able to order online or will they need to call or text it in? Choose the way you take orders that’s most convenient for customers and your restaurant. Remember: Most people will prefer placing an order digitally since it won’t require talking to people and their order is already in writing.
If you decide to use a third-party delivery service, shop around for the one that has the best fees for your business, has a solid customer-service reputation and provides real-time updates on deliveries.
Related: Contactless food delivery
Cooking classes are a great way to boost your restaurant revenue during off-peak hours, but they can also give your customers a more intimate experience with your brand.
But before you start putting together a course schedule and selling tickets, there are a few details to sort out first. Ask yourself these five questions to determine if cooking classes are a good fit for your restaurant:
When would classes be offered?
When launching a cooking class, choose a time that works well with your restaurant schedule and is convenient for the consumer. Offering classes during slower days may make sense for your business but may not suit consumers who work a typical 9-5 job. Saturday or Sunday mornings are typically the best time for a cooking class.
What space will you use?
Not all restaurant layouts are suited for cooking instruction. While the kitchen may seem ideal, most restaurant kitchens aren’t set up to accommodate large groups, which leaves the dining room or a private dining space as the likely option.
What equipment do you need?
Think through everything you’ll need for a class to go smoothly. For instance, using your dining room would require tables to be protected with cloths or carving boards. And since you’re not working in a kitchen, you’ll need to do more prep work and have the right equipment, like portable burners, which may put pressure on your electrical systems.
What type of classes will you offer?
There are two kinds of cooking classes to consider: one in which students will be active participants and cook their own meals, or one in which a chef will demonstrate and let students taste the final product. Think through which format makes sense for your physical space and what you’re trying to achieve.
Who will teach the class?
A chef may be able to whip up fantastic dishes but might lack the skills to explain their process in a way that anyone can understand. When choosing your instructor, consider which members of your staff are both kitchen savvy and have strong communication skills.
How will it impact my brand?
Cooking classes will impact your restaurant’s brand—positively or negatively so doing it right can be a big boost to your restaurant. Make sure any dish you create in a class is of equal quality to what your restaurant serves. Even if your restaurant serves top-notch dishes, if a guest has a poor experience in one of your cooking classes, it will likely impact how they view your brand as a whole.
Don’t be afraid of cannibalizing your business by sharing a few secret recipes. If a guest now knows how to make one of your famous signature dishes at home, they’ll likely order something different the next time they visit your restaurant to experience more of your menu.
Related: How Chipotle combines customer and digital engagement strategies to reach new revenue heights
Hit the streets
Restaurateurs will often start a food truck before committing to opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant, but some are taking the opposite journey and adding a food truck to their existing restaurant. Food trucks are not only a great side business, but they also have the power to boost restaurant sales in-house.
Put your marketing on wheels.
A food truck bears your restaurant’s name, logo and contact information and the packaging will likely have the same. Think of your food truck as a large, moving billboard: it will expand your marketing reach and build awareness of your brand with the local community.
Convert customers with samples.
The main audience for a food truck is walk-up customers, and letting them sample your food is a great way to win their business. Giving out samples can impact what guests buy right away and set up their appetites for another craving of your food.
Keep wait lines shorter.
If your restaurant is packed, customers may not want to wait for a table, especially during the pandemic. On busy days, park your food truck outside of your restaurant to handle overflow and minimize the amount of customers waiting for tables. They can eat at the truck instead or get a nibble to hold them over while they wait.
Your restaurant might not be able to offer catering, but your food truck can cater weddings or private parties. You can even set up your restaurant’s food truck at local events like concerts and festivals.
Give back visibly.
Use your food truck to give back to your community. Having your brand visible at a charitable event or supporting non-profit organizations will build a positive association with your restaurant, especially among socially conscious consumers—which is growing all the time.
Of course, just like any restaurant, starting a food truck requires a bunch of licenses, permits and types of insurance. Prepare to jump through some hoops before driving off.