How restaurants that ‘thrive’ get higher spend from diners

Article by Aaron Copestake | 31st October 2019

There are myriad ways of getting people to part with their hard-earned in exchange for your spices and your silks—often involving appeal to psychology.

There’s the penny-pinching of  ‘charm pricing’ where you squeeze a round number price by 1 or 0.01. For example, to reduce 100 to 99, or 10 to 9.99.

Yes, that old chestnut. We all know how it works, but it still makes us more likely to purchase.

There’s ‘prestige’ pricing—the polar opposite to ‘charm pricing’—where you consciously keep the round number of 100, or 10 to convey quality and a more ‘up market’ brand feel.

And, of course, there’s the ‘no pricing at all’ or ‘ask to find out’ tactics reserved for ultra-premium, bespoke quoted goods and services that want to create a sense of exclusivity.

When it comes to hospitality and the dining experience, restaurants will borrow from each of these approaches aligning with the one that best fits their market position and brand identity.

Stroll down fine dining boulevard and you’ll see round numbers. Perhaps even without a currency sign. Fly-by fast-food central and you’ll likely encounter .99s and .95s.

Restaurants mould their pricing strategy around the demographic they want to attract. However, these approaches are aimed at getting people to spend in the first place—not necessarily spend more.

Given the typically low margins restaurants operate, real, sustainable growth can hinge on a dynamic team empowered and willing to inform customer choices to encourage purchases they might not otherwise have considered.

Everything boils down to motivation.

So you have a group booking of 10. Each customer will likely grab a main, perhaps a drink first.

OK… it’s a good start. Convert one of the 10 on ordering a starter while his paella is cooked fresh, and maybe others will follow suit.

Perhaps their host might like to talk to them about the seasonal specials. Or perhaps not.

Perhaps this F&B handler is carrying around frustrations about lack of training, being kept in the dark about things and feeling generally disempowered.

Glum staff just aren’t going to go above and beyond to engage and up-sell to guests to develop experience—they’re going to do the core essentials and little else.

As UpServe’s industry blog, Restaurant Insider asserts… 

“When employees don’t perform, it’s basically the same as losing money; and businesses with problematic employees spend more operating capital in order to deal with issues that arise”

Source—Restaurant Insider: Don’t Fire Your Lazy Employees, Motivate Them…and Here’s How

In order to drive repeat custom and higher average spend, restaurateurs need to create a culture whereby FOH and BOH teams feel bonded, energised, knowledgeable and confident.

One of the most sustainable ways of ensuring F&B handlers are investing themselves to find up-selling opportunities and maximising customer spend is to invest in *them*.

A team that knows they’re being up-skilled, looked after and developed will be more inclined to give back, master their craft to go beyond simply executing the basics.

“I see technology as being an extension of the human body”

David Cronenberg (Canadian film-maker)

Team communications technology can be a powerful way of empowering teams to do more and give customers reasons to spend a little extra, plus fewer reasons to roll up their sleeves and vent their 1-star frustrations online.

A team interconnected through push-to-talk voice headsets become each others’ eyes and ears and operate as a single knowledge bank keeping one another informed of mid-service changes and opportunities to up-sell.

Example—you see your colleague’s table finish their bottle of wine, you push-to-talk on your headset and you alert your colleague that his table might be ready to buy another bottle. Bingo.

Or you notice a couple waiting to be seated at the other end of the restaurant, but their table isn’t ready—perhaps inform a colleague that they might want to seat them at the bar and offer them a cocktail before they walk out of the door?

Restaurants shouldn’t need to reinvent the wheel by creating kooky interiors, spraying oceanic mists around diners tucking into their scallops or hanging macabre Damien Hirst installations around the place.

The right investment in the right team-comms tech can set off a chain reaction of morale and efficiency perks that ultimately translate to a higher spend per customer and a healthier return from each service.

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