From co-working to catering: 4 nontraditional ways restaurants increase sales (and local businesses benefit)

As profit margins narrow, restaurant owners increasingly turn to income-generating ideas to boost sales. However, creating multiple income streams requires more than an innovative concept.

Whether you offer co-working space during slow times or increase off-premises options, building successful multiple revenue streams is not about following the current trend. Restaurants need long-term solutions. Nick Iovacchini, CEO of Kettlespace, tells Toast that tactics like transforming your restaurant into a co-working space during slow times provide exposure and “the chance to cross-promote for other opportunities.”

Don’t get caught off guard by declining sales. Instead, use a promotional strategy that connects your unique idea to a creative income stream opportunity.

1. Schedule after-hours events.

Need a quick way to increase restaurant revenue this month? Promote and host an after-hours event. The National Restaurant Association reports:

More than half of consumers under the age of 35 make late-night restaurant visits several times a month, as compared to just a quarter of consumers over 35.

Attract new guests by creating events that feature appetizer or drink specials along with entertainment. Add exclusivity to your event with ticket-only attendance, a countdown ticker, and by combining your event with an integrated reservation and event promotion strategy.

2. Provide catering and banquet options.

Are you tired of exorbitant delivery fees and a lack of dine-in traffic? Go where your customers eat by providing catering and banquet services for individuals and organizations. According to IBISWorld:

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“Corporate and consumer party budgets are likely to expand, pushing up demand.”

Take advantage of this by creating promotions for business customers as well as individuals. Technomic data referenced in Restaurant Business shows:

B2C or social catering makes up 63% of the total catering market and B2B catering, serving institutions, accounts for the other 37%.

Narrow your catering concept to the segment with the strongest opportunity in your area. Then build a campaign for a select audience. For example, you could schedule business promotions around:

  • A working lunch during tax season for local accountants that offers energy-boosting foods.
  • Specialty platters so busy executives can celebrate their administrative professionals without hassle.
  • Helping local businesses fuel a food drive during October’s World Food Day.

3. Feature ready-to-cook meals or a grab-n-go section.

With more grocers jumping into the food delivery game, restauranteurs turn to grab-n-go or ready-to-eat meals as an extra income stream. However, home cooks who purchase ready-to-eat (or ready-to-cook) meals are a different breed than those who want a burger on the fly. Blythe Grates, senior marketing director at Firebird Restaurant Group, tells Forbes:

Part of the stay-at-home movement is due to the prevalence of in-home entertainment, as well as the Amazon effect—where virtually everything, including food, can now be delivered.

Adding more menu and packaging options can strain your operations, which is why it’s important to focus on what experience your customers want. If cooking a meal with their kids is a priority, then promote your ready-to-cook meals as family-friendly.

  • Create short social messages with pictures of children helping their parents cook.
  • Build a landing page with menu suggestions.
  • Add a resource page to your website that offers recipes for side dishes or unique ways to use your ready-to-cook meals.
  • Spread the word using both your loyalty program and gift card sales.

Consumers want control of where and when they eat your food. Adding off-premises dining options (delivery, catering, ready-to-cook meals, and to-go orders) helps your business weather the slow seasons.

4. Promote in-house events.

Restaurant Trivia Night

The Shire Pub features Trivia Night Wednesdays

In-house restaurant events provide excellent opportunities to boost sales and provide alternative restaurant revenue streams. Dive into data about your target audience to discover which types of in-house events they’d like to participate in.

Creative restaurant revenue-generating ideas include:

  • Sunday afternoon tasting menus
  • Happy hour specials
  • Guest speakers or demonstrations
  • Trivia nights
  • Music and art festivities

Maximize attendance by understanding why your guests want (or need) to attend, then create a compelling customer-focused campaign for event promotion.

Brainstorm restaurant revenue streams.

From renting out co-working spaces during downtime to entering the grab-n-go arena, restaurant owners withstand market turmoil by developing additional revenue streams. However, tossing ideas around without customer research and a clear strategy damages profit margins. Ensure your next venture is a winner with a restaurant communications plan designed for maximum profit.

Management consultant and brand strategist for small teams. Fan of dark tea, thick books, peace, and unity.

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