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How to Wage War on Water Orders

Restaurant BeveragesNow is the time for your restaurant to take a stand. The war on tap water is steadily spiraling out of control. You may have lost the battle but the war can still be won.

Whether it’s their growing waistlines, shrinking budgets, or a combination of the two, restaurant diners are ordering more tap water when dining out. The motivation for customers to do so is obvious: tap water is free and contains zero calories.

Over the last five years tap water has become increasingly popular, while other beverage sales have suffered. According to NPD Group, a market research company, tap water accounts for 10% of beverages ordered in the past five years, and total beverage orders are down 6%.

This is a trend that restaurant owners want to reverse. Beverages sales make up a large part of a restaurant’s revenue and when customers are sticking to water this revenue is diminished.

Restaurant owners need ways to attack their falling beverage sales. Here are a few possible ways to increase your restaurant’s beverage sales.

Maximize Your Beverage Options with Coca-Cola Freestyle

Coca-Cola Freestyle is a new beverage dispenser that offers more than 100 different drink options. Customers are able to choose their favorite option or customize their own beverage.

This is a great way to increase your beverage options and provide customers with a selection they cannot ignore. Five Guys and Burger King restaurant chains have already endorsed Coca-Cola Freestyle and will install machines in restaurants nationwide.

Create Your Own Unique Beverage Options

Instead of presenting diners with the same beverage list they might find at any other restaurant put a creative and customized spin on your drink menu. By putting in the extra effort to set your drink menu apart from the rest you will provide your customers with more incentive to indulge and experience drinks they have not encountered before.

Millennium, a gourmet restaurant in San Francisco, has embraced this idea and created an extensive customized drink menu. This drink menu includes specialty cocktails made of hand-crafted ingredients (like ginger agave) prepared by the kitchen staff, the bartenders then use these ingredients and their creativity to concoct unique beverages. The restaurant also offers specialty non-alcoholic juices and natural sodas.

Train Staff to Sell Beverages

Your servers are fighting on the front line and you should provide them with the artillery to combat incoming water orders. It is common for restaurant servers to just ask a customer whether they want a beverage and accept “no” for an answer.

Train your employees to use “suggestive selling” to help persuade diners to order a beverage with their meal. This can be done by suggesting an item from the drink list that would complement the meal they ordered or by highlighting some of the more unique and enticing beverage items your restaurant serves. It is important that your staff knows how to suggest a beverage without being too aggressive and overwhelming in the process.

Combo Meals

Creating combination choices on your restaurant’s menu is another good way to increase beverage sales. Combo meals can be implemented in any style restaurant, whether it is fine dining or fast food.

This is a great way to get your customers to order a beverage, allowing you to combine an entree with a beverage option and provide your customers with an easier and more affordable way to order a drink with their meal. Combo meals also create an opportunity to add an appetizer or dessert to generate more orders for these parts of your menu.

Happy Hour

Offering a happy hour for customers is a great way to not only increase beverage sales but also increase foot traffic that comes through your restaurant daily. A happy hour provides customers with a reason to stop by your restaurant frequently and order drinks.

This promotion will also increase appetizer sales. People are constantly looking for a reason to go get a drink with friends; by creating a happy hour you are giving them a reason and a place to go.

With the war on water out of control it is time for your restaurant to make a strategy change with its beverage sales. Tap water orders are becoming more and more popular as other beverage sales fall. Your restaurant needs to plan its counter attack today. By employing a new plan of action you may be able to reverse or at least slow this troubling trend.  Don’t loose your beverage sales in the fight against tap water.

About Ryan Eby

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