3 Ways to Restart Sales Growth

If your sales have stalled when you compare year-over-year revenue numbers, you need to figure out why.  Here are three possible solutions.

New Promotions

If you have had the same promotion running on Tuesday nights for more than 6 months, this one is for you.

“Many people are in a rut and a rut is nothing but a grave – with both ends kicked out.”

– Vance Havner

On one hand, the tradition is wonderful. But it is a double-edged sword.  It might be holding you back from more profitable revenue.

Suppose you’ve been running a half-price appetizer promotion for the last two years on Wednesday nights.  You picked Wednesday because it was a slow night.  Since then, Wednesday has become your busiest weekday, but most of your food is now sold at half-price. Changing the promotion regularly would have allowed you to improve profitability on Wednesdays.

New Menu Items

When was the last time you added 5 new items to your menu at once?

“Not all treasure‘s silver and gold, mate.”

– Jack Sparrow, Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl

One look at the success of Costco and stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls  experience should convince you that the prospect of discovery is exciting for customers.  For those companies, the “treasure hunt”  is one of the main reasons credited for their growth.

Regularly adding (and removing) items from your menu will maintain sense of novelty.  You may even discover a new signature item that your restaurant will be known for.

New Pricing

Leaving ANY pricing in place too long makes it really hard to make changes.  If you’ve been known for a $6 cheeseburger for the last 2 years, then a price adjustment to $6.50 will feel like a big jump for regulars.  Making changes to promotions regularly makes pricing changes less obvious.

“You can determine the strength of a business over time by the amount of agony they go through in raising prices.”

– Warren Buffett

If you’re faced with an obvious jump that could cause you to lose customers, here are 2 strategies to try using our Cheeseburger as an example.

  1. Change the size. Make the burger larger when you raise the price.  It will preserve the sense of value.  Be sure to train your staff on how to communicate this.
  2. Make the pricing based on quantity. 2 cheeseburgers for $12 may allow you to keep some of your most price sensitive customers.


7 Reasons Your Customer Attraction Strategy is Failing

You aren’t doing anything specific to attract new customers

All too often, we just hope that new customers will walk in the door.  With competition coming from other restaurants and non-traditional competitors like meal delivery and grocery stores, not having a plan won’t build your business to its potential.

You don’t know when new customers visit

You need a way to identify new customers that walk through your door or order from you.  This can be as simple as having staff alert you or a manager when someone is new, or you can build out a customer loyalty program.  Whatever you choose, make one person responsible for tracking results.

Your staff is treating new customers poorly

Often customers come in because of a promotion.  If the customer gets treated like a second-class customer because they’re using a coupon, they likely won’t be returning.

You aren’t giving new customers a reason to come back

Your regulars know why they keep showing up.  They’ve learned that you have rotating specials, or that you always have soccer games on.  Whatever it is that customers love about you, you need to educate new customers, so they can participate.

Your staff has not been trained to help new customers

“What’s good here?” should be a question that elicits immediate and enthusiastic responses from your staff.  “I don’t know,” or “Everything” are useless answers.  Help your staff understand the importance of new customers and give them the tools they need to turn those first-timers into regulars.

You haven’t explained the purpose of your promotions to your employees

If your promotion is geared towards bringing in a new customer, make sure that your staff understand the goals of the program and how it will help all of you succeed as a team.

You’re using the wrong messaging

Deep discounts can drive sales, they can dilute the value you present every day.  Build out messaging that reinforces your brand and highlights what makes your establishment unique.

10 Things To Think About Before Running Your Next Promotion

The effectiveness of your promotion is directly related to the quality of the questions you’re asking during the planning process.    To ensure the greatest chance of success in your next promotion, use this guide to help you jumpstart the process.

 1.  Goals

If don’t set goals for your promotion, then nothing else in this post matters.

Questions to ask:

What is your goal for the promotion?

Is it to bring in new customers

Is it to get existing customers to visit more frequently?

Is it to get lapsed customers to visit again?

2.  Budget

Setting the budget for your promotion will depend heavily on your resources and experience in marketing.  The more promotions you’ve run, the better idea you’ll have about the results you can expect.

Questions to ask:

What is the expected REVENUE during the promotion period?

What is the expected PROFIT during the promotion period?

What are the expected LONG TERM returns

What is the maximum budget that you can spend on this promotion?

What is the minimum that you can spend to achieve your goals?

3.  Target Audience

Build on your goal by building a target persona.  To do this, simply imagine the person you would like to see visiting your restaurant.

Questions to ask:

What do you think they were doing 30 minutes before they came to the restaurant?

What do you think they’ll do when they leave?

What do they watch and read?

Where do they go during a typical day?

How do they spend their time and money?

What kind of car do they drive?

Where do they live?

Where do they work?

4.  Digital vs Traditional vs In Store

Your budget will have an influence on the medium you choose for your promotion.  Obviously, you won’t be shooting and airing a TV commercial on a $500 budget.  Consider your goals and your target and come up with an appropriate way to reach your customers.


Social Media Ads

Paid Search


Ad Networks








Direct Mail

In Store

Table top advertising

Menu inserts


5.  Message

Your customers face a barrage of marketing messages.  Coming up with one that breaks through the clutter is a daunting task.  Take your time, brainstorm and give yourself plenty of choices.

Questions to ask:

Does the message have a clear call to action?

Does the message build the brand?

Is the message concise?

Is there a sense of urgency in the message?

6.  Timing

Think about how you can use the calendar and the clock to your advantage.

Questions to ask:

When is the best time to run this promotion?

How long should the promotion run for?

Should the promotion be restricted to certain days or business hours?

Are there other events you can tie this promotion to?

7. Collateral

If your promotion is a DIY project, you’ll need to work out all of the details to ensure that all of your materials are created at a high level.  If you’re working with a media outlet (newspaper, radio station), leverage their creative department to enhance your own work

Questions to ask:

Who will create the ads and collateral?

Who will approve the creative?

Who will produce or print any materials

What is the cost for the initial run?

What is the cost for additional materials?

8. Training

If you’ve ever been a customer on the first day of a promotion, you’ve probably experienced the pain of having to explain the details to the employee who is serving you.  Don’t let this happen to your customers.

Questions to ask:

Do you need to train any of your staff on producing new menu items for this promotion?

Have you trained all staff on how to explain the promotion to customers?

Is your staff aware of the goals of this promotion?

9. Metrics

You set goals, but now you need to think about how you’ll measure your success.  For example, if your goal is to bring in new customers, you need to identify and track new customer visits.  If the goal is to increase average check, you need to know what it is before, during and after the promotion to see if the promotion is working.

Questions to ask:

How will you measure your progress against your goals?

How will you track your progress?

What will you do in week 1/2/3/4 to adjust if your goals aren’t met?

10. Follow On Sales

Be sure to consider whether there are further opportunities to engage customers.  Can you bring them in for additional promotions, get them to order online or through your app, or add them to your email or sms marketing list?

Questions to ask:

Are there additional sales opportunities for customers?

Can you use this opportunity to connect to customers in other ways?

Do you have another promotion coming up that you can educate your customers about during this promotion?