For restaurant owners, beverages are not only menu items you have to give diners to complete their meal. They are also products that drive in higher profits and more customers.
People love to drink when dining out. A lot of customers also go to restaurants simply to sip their favorite beverage.
Due to these reasons, failing to maximize the potential of your beverage menu is a huge mistake to make if you own a restaurant.
However, there is more to increasing your beverage sales than putting additional items on your menu.
If you want to boost your restaurant’s beverage and overall sales, follow these tips from established beverage distributors in the UAE:
1. Determine your beverage cost formula.
The beverage cost formula, which is also known as the pour cost, helps you determine the percentage of your total beverage sales that you spend on the actual drinks and ingredients each week.
Once you determine your pour cost, you can figure out your gross profit. Keep in mind that the lower the pour cost, the better.
Look for ways to reduce your pour cost to boost the profitability of your beverage sales without compromising the quality of your drinks.
And as you implement your chosen techniques to increase your beverage sales, don’t forget to keep your pour cost in line with the computations you obtained.
2. Lower your beverage costs.
Controlling your beverage costs will go a long way in ensuring you don’t lose more money on these menu items.
Start by making sure that your staff follows beverage pouring instructions and recipes. Establish clear guidelines and rules beforehand and explain them carefully to new employees.
Review the recipes regularly with your staff to check if you are still losing money on your beverage offerings.
Additionally, speak with your distributor to find out if you can work out a deal with them to get your supplies at lower prices. If you always order bottled or canned beverages and ingredients in bulk, ask them if you can get some discounts since you are buying plenty of their products.
Also, find out if your distributor has new beverage brands they offer at promotional prices to get their product in more restaurants. This is a great way to add more items to your menu at lower costs. Most customers enjoy tasting new drinks as well, so you will likely sell them.
Finally, for fresh ingredients, such as fruits and herbs, source them from local farmers. This will help you save money since many suppliers pass the shipping fees onto the buyers.
3. Offer customizable beverages.
Today’s modern customers love variety. Moreover, they also value creativity and uniqueness in their menu options.
Combine these elements to draw more customers and boost your sales by offering diners the option to make their own beverages.
Add flavor shots to your menu that diners can add to their soda, iced tea, or lemonade. If you serve coffee, offer add-ons that will add a unique spin to your customers’ orders. These can include honey, pumpkin spice, vanilla extract, melted chocolate, and a scoop of ice cream.
If you have cocktails and mocktails on your menu, highlight ingredients that customers can use to customize and elevate their drinks.
Don’t forget to instruct your waitstaff to recommend the option to customize their beverages to all diners.
4. Elevate your water options.
With more and more people becoming health-conscious, don’t waste the opportunity to cater to these potential customers.
Offer a variety of upgraded water options. Add or infuse fresh fruits, herbs, and vegetables to water to elevate its flavor.
You can also add flavored ice cubes to make the taste of water less boring and more interesting.
Additionally, when offering flavored water, bill it as herbal, green, and organic to capture the interest of patrons looking for healthy options.
Don’t forget to charge accordingly when you add flavored water to your beverage menu.
5. Promote your beverages.
When creating or tweaking your restaurant’s marketing campaign, ensure you also highlight your beverage offerings.
Take good-quality photos and videos of your actual beverages and share them on social media. Make sure to create posts or descriptions that will capture and boost the interest of people who read them.
Share posts about new beverages you have and events that take place in your restaurant where the drinks are also front and center.
Make sure you or your staff engage with people who comment on your posts and ask any questions about your restaurant and beverage offerings.
When using traditional marketing materials, ensure your posters, flyers, and other tools showcase eye-catching images of your beverages as well.
If you have several beverages, consider creating a separate menu for them. Also, entice diners to order them by putting a photo of your new signature drinks on a card on all tables. Add a line or two describing why customers should try them.
Lastly, host events in your restaurant where you can showcase your beverages. Have a weekly ladies’ night and brunches on the weekends and include promos for your drinks. If you are offering set menus, add a pitcher of your house iced tea or unlimited signature mocktails.
These events always attract your loyal and new customers. And if you set the price right, you won’t lose any money even if you serve lots of beverages during the event.
6. Don’t neglect your loyal patrons.
Finally, a big mistake you have to avoid making when trying to boost your beverage sales is forgetting about or neglecting your current customer base.
Your loyal diners are your most prominent and reliable marketers. They promote your drinks through word of mouth or the photos they put on their social media pages when they visit your restaurant.
Your repeat customers do all these without pay, so disregarding them when modifying your menu or creating new promos is never a good idea.
Ask your most loyal diners what beverages they would like to see on your menu. You can also hand out samples of recipes you want to try and ask them for their opinions.
You can also retain your customers by creating a loyalty program that allows them to claim a reward after visiting your restaurant a number of times. Make your repeat patrons feel special by giving them free drinks or other complimentary items on their birthdays or anniversaries.
With these tips, you can maximize your investments in your beverages and increase your chances of running a more profitable restaurant.
Jad Asaad is the Marketing Manager at Bidfood UAE with more than eight years of experience in digital, online and offline marketing. He started his career in Beirut working in a creative agency and then moved to Dubai to further expand his career. He created and implemented award-winning high-impact digital and offline marketing campaigns that consistently generated revenue streams and improved performance in targeted segments.