Running a successful, profitable restaurant is just like being a stock broker: you must diversify to minimize risk. This lesson is even more relevant today considering the current economic climate. So, you have a great concept, some popular menu items, and a decent dinner rush. Good. But your profit margins could be better, and your business more resilient, if you took the time to diversify.
Add retail items. Loyal customers love creative apparel referring to your restaurant. Think of all the money the Hard Rock Café has made just from selling T-shirts and hats alone. And they still have the gall to charge $16 for a burger! Plus you’ll get some great free advertising for your business.
Make your food more accessible. Customers love your menu, but they may not have the time or the inclination to sit in your dining room and eat. Consider carry-out for popular items, large party catering services, and even food delivery to make sure your customer can have your food whenever they want.
Host special events. Weddings, corporate functions, and large parties often require specialized menus and pricing, but making your restaurant available for larger functions is a great way to sell out the place on slow days and to take advantage of high seasons, like corporate Christmas parties. Plus many of the guests at a large event have probably never been to your restaurant before, so impress them so much they come back for more.
Create profitable partnerships. Chances are there are several other local businesses that would like to reach your customer base. Come up with creative ways to give such partners advertising access to your customers…for a fee. This could include advertising in menu inserts, banner ads on the emails you send out, or product giveaways at promotional events in your restaurant. Of course, there is a fine line here between annoying and pleasing your customer, but use constant feedback and modify your strategies until you get the formula just right. The result will be a great revenue stream that is almost all profit.