One of the best ways to increase revenue in a restaurant is to prioritize alcohol sales. By thinking more strategically about this part of your business, you may be able to significantly improve your bottom line and create more stability in what can be a cutthroat industry.
5 Tips for Increasing Alcohol Sales
If you want to take your restaurant sales to the next level, alcohol is a not-so-secret weapon that has the potential to unleash new levels of profitability. If you aren’t already set up to sell alcohol, we’d recommend getting your alcoholic beverage license as soon as possible. Not only will alcohol get people in the door, but the profit margins are incredible.
“Different types of alcohol in your bar’s inventory should carry different profit margins. For instance, liquor should fall around 80 to 85 percent, while draft beer should have a margin of approximately 80 percent,” entrepreneur Steve Lander writes. “Bottled beer margins can fall around 75 percent, while, on average, wine margins come between 60 and 70 percent.”
But profit margins only matter if you’re getting people to buy. Try these useful tips to increase your sales figures:
1. Promote Your Happy Hour Events
If you’re already selling alcohol, you most likely have happy hour events. Try to be more intentional about promoting your happy hours. If you have an active social media presence, regular posts about that day’s happy hour can drive more traffic to your restaurant.
2. Add a Bar in the Waiting Area
It’s good to have people waiting to be seated. It means you’re busy. Plus, it’s an excellent and visible element of social proof. (When people see a line, they assume the restaurant is good.) But you never want people just standing around. You want to monetize this “dead period” as much as possible.
In addition to training your hosts to direct people to the bar area, you may want to add a bar to common waiting areas. You’ll find more people are willing to order a drink if they don’t have to walk all the way back to the main bar.
3. Use Suggestive Selling
Suggestive selling is another useful strategy that can increase the average tab size. Train your bartenders and waitstaff to use suggestive selling techniques like:
- Suggestive pairings. Consider adding a suggested drink pairing underneath each of your menu items. This may encourage diners to order a drink when they’re otherwise unsure of what to get. You can also do this in reverse. If you have someone sitting at the bar, you may encourage a food pairing for the drink they order.
- Suggestive refills. Train your staff to always suggest a refill when the patron is done. For even better results, have your staff call out the drink specifically. (For example, don’t just say, “Do you want another drink?” Instead, say, “Can I get you another bourbon and coke?”
- Suggestive premium pours. When ordering cocktails, most guests will say something like, “I’ll take a vodka and tonic.” In situations where no brand is specified, train your staff to offer two top-shelf liquor choices. For example, the server may reply, “Do you want Grey Goose or Belvedere?”
If you train your staff to effectively do these three things, you’ll see a noticeable increase in sales on day one. It can take some practice and encouragement, but it’ll eventually become second nature to them.
4. Get Better Lighting
Better bar lighting could be another key to increasing your drink sales. Research shows that people look better in warm, dim lighting and are willing to drink more and spend more when the ambiance is just right. An improvement in this aspect of your restaurant design will pay for itself very quickly.
5. Add Descriptions to Your Drink Menu
If your current drink menu provides nothing more than the name of the drink, you might be inadvertently shooting yourself in the foot. While some people know what they want right away, most people would like some more information. Get creative and descriptive – particularly with high-margin drinks. (You’ll see more people order these cocktails!)
Putting it All Together
Not every customer is interested in alcohol, but many are. And, without exception, customers who order alcohol are going to be your most profitable tabs. Use these tips and suggestions as inspiration for increasing sales and keeping customers happy.