7 Ways Your Restaurant Can Earn Additional Income
The restaurant industry is bouncing back after two years of lockdowns, mass layoffs, closings and increasing health and safety measures. Food service employment expects to grow by 400,000 jobs for a total of 14.9 million by the end of 2022, while market forecasts project $898 billion in sales.
However, inflation and slow hiring have many restauranteurs concerned about their bottom line. According to Alignable’s Small Business Inflation Poll, 51% of restaurant owners worry they’ll have to close their doors in six months due to rising costs.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to boost your business’s revenue and prevent a permanent closing. Here are seven ways your restaurant can earn additional income.
1. Sell Restaurant-Branded Merchandise
If your restaurant happens to be a popular local spot with a distinct style, you might want to consider selling branded merchandise for additional income. Perhaps unsurprisingly, establishments in tourist destinations benefit most from this marketing strategy.
Restaurants big and small profit from selling merchandise to loyal customers and newbies — and there are other options aside from shirts. Consider selling hats, mugs, pint glasses or decals with your logo across the front. Is your restaurant known for a secret sauce? Patrons can bring a taste home if you sell it in bottles.
Don’t stop at an in-store display, though. Sell your goods online or partner with local businesses to sell your merchandise for you and create brand awareness.
2. Offer Gift Cards
It may not seem like a revenue stream, but gift cards are the easiest to lure customers back and even bring in new clientele. If you haven’t started selling gift cards for your restaurant, you’re missing out. It’s not uncommon for customers with gift cards to spend more.
You don’t have to invest in plastic gift cards either. Offering gift certificates to your establishment can be done on paper, but be sure to track them well. Create your gift certificates online and print them out on cardstock. Remember to include expiration dates and watermarks to prevent fraud.
3. Become a Lottery Retailer
Another unlikely way your restaurant can earn additional income is by becoming a lottery retailer. Restaurants selling lottery tickets usually get a sales commission with extra dividends and promotions.
For instance, authorized lottery retailers in Virginia earn a 5% commission on all tickets sold, including claims earnings, retail bonuses on winnings over $20,000, incentives for high ticket sales and other promotions.
Generating side cash for your restaurant has never been easier. Plus, customers who feel lucky will probably spend more on food and drink.
4. Provide Catering Services
Simultaneously operating a restaurant and offering catering services is not an easy feat. Nevertheless, some establishments may opt to cater for weddings, parties, festivals, local fairs, conventions or work luncheons.
Public events may require you to fill out an application or pay a fee to cater. However, partnering with local venues can earn you the reputation of a “preferred caterer,” in which your restaurant is recognized for its menu and event offerings. For example, reception halls may recommend your restaurant for weddings if you’re their preferred caterer.
5. Write a Cookbook
Establishments renowned for their special offerings and unique flavor combinations might want to produce a cookbook of their best dishes. A cookbook doesn’t have to undergo formal publishing either. Your best option is to make copies through a local print shop, while some restaurants may offer recipe cards with popular menu items instead.
Ask your cook or chef to alter recipes to work best in a home kitchen and include tips and tricks, special notes or background stories. For instance, an amateur at-home bartender may be interested in knowing that the first Old-Fashioned was mixed in 1806 and how to recreate your restaurant’s version of the traditional cocktail.
Also, consider collaborating with other nearby establishments to create a cookbook of local favorites. This may be good for small town eateries that get a lot of seasonal visitors or if you intend to donate partial proceeds to a local charity.
6. Consider Online Ordering and Food Delivery Services
Online ordering and food delivery became the norm during the coronavirus pandemic and hasn’t slowed since. In fact, 68% of consumers still prefer ordering takeout after lockdowns. In addition, the rise of food delivery apps has made it even more apparent that convenience is essential when deciding what’s for dinner.
According to a 2019 survey by Zion & Zion, 63% of people between 18 and 29 used a multi-restaurant delivery app or website within a three-month period.
By allowing customers to call in orders, creating an online ordering system or participating in food delivery apps, takeout could become your restaurant’s primary revenue source.
7. Offer Coupons, Specials and Discounts
Customers are the most critical factor in any restaurant’s success. Without patrons, you don’t earn money or a reputation. That’s why rewarding customer loyalty with special offers and discounts can boost your income.
Dining establishments might provide frequent patrons with a reward system in which they can accrue points during each visit. Knowing they can exchange their points for money off their next bill will incentivize patrons to return.
Likewise, offering discounted meals or coupons for daily specials can increase your chances of bringing more customers through the door. Consider a two-for-one drink special, happy hour for people getting off work or Ladies Night discounts every other Tuesday.
Endless Possibilities for Your Restaurant to Earn More Revenue
No one said running a restaurant would be easy. You might even second guess your decision to enter the restaurant business during financially challenging times. However, there are numerous avenues you can take to earn additional income at your restaurant and have greater peace of mind.