10 Ways to Increase Your Bottom Line in 2013

2013 is upon us; the time of year where people analyze their lives and make resolutions.  People become reinvigorated and a sense of motivation fills the air… for about a week.  As for businesses, many take the New Year to take a look at the past and plan for the future.  Here at Origin Displays we have our own laundry list of items to tackle in hopes of reaching that allusive “next level.”  One of our habits that we agreed to continue was our blogging.  Not only do we enjoy passing along our knowledge to our readers but it also forces us to stay on top of the industry, keeping us keenly aware.

Last year we wrote 40 blogs, and we plan to maintain a 1 blog per week pace this year.  If I am not writing a similar blog a year from now saying that we wrote 52 blogs I encourage the hate mail calling me out.  Anyhow, as a part of those 40 blogs we touched on a wide variety of items, all with the purpose of helping you make educated choices.  This submission is no different.  We have plucked 10 items from blogs past that will undoubtedly help you increase your bottom line in 2013.  Some come with an investment, and some do not.  It is important to note, that I am not suggesting you try all 10.

#1- Add a drive-thru to your location

There is no question that adding a drive-thru to your location can add some significant revenue.  Depending on what you hear or read, locations with a drive-thru see 60-70% of their total sales go through that area.  Now the question remains, would that 60-70% go inside your restaurant if the drive-thru didn’t exist.  In my opinion, to assume that it would is an aggressive thought.  Consider the mom with the 3 kids in the back, the elderly, those under dressed for public viewing, and the plain lazy = there is a large market for those who do not want to get out of their car.  Getting back to whether it is worth it; a lot depends on your available budget and the physical traffic that goes by your location.  If there has never been a drive-thru at your restaurant in the past, you’ll run in to a lot of red tape.  Depending on the state, town or village your business is in, you can expect everything from the traffic patterns down to the landscaping that would be affected to be looked at.  This all takes time and money.  If there has been a drive-thru at your location before (i.e. you took over an old Taco Bell), then I think it is an absolute no-brainer.  Most of the aforementioned legwork has already been done.

#2- Increase the amount of ancillary signage

We get calls every day and 90% of the conversations revolve around menu boards, digital menu boards or drive-thru menu boards.  Now some of the blame can be placed on how people are finding us because of the way we are optimized online.  The fact remains, that although these signs are the focal point, there are so many other areas that can be capitalized on for increased revenue.

#3- Re-optimize your menu boards   

We have glazed over this topic on a number of occasions but we continue to see people devalue the importance of a well-designed menu board system.  Simply listing items and prices is not going to encourage sales where you want them to come from.  This is the single largest opportunity for you to control what you want to sell.

#4- Have specials be special

Have you ever sat down at a restaurant and looked at the specials menu and compared it to the regular menu?  You may be surprised that there isn’t a great “deal” of difference on the price.  Let me let you in on another little secret; a lot of restaurants put items on special when the main ingredient is nearing its expiration and they want to move the product to minimize their waste.  What I am getting at is, if you are going to have a special, surround it with value.  Maybe it is a seasonal item (i.e. pumpkin spice coffee in October) or maybe it is an item that it not regularly available on your menu.

#5- Increase online marketing  

You can open the flashiest new joint on the block but without a little advertising and marketing you are not going to get anywhere fast.  Even if you do not have a website, you want to be found on sites like yelp.com and directories like yellowbook.com and business.com.  I personally use the web to find everything.  Recently I wanted to try and new Thai place.  I entered, “Thai restaurant Long Island” and was given a small handful of options to choose from after drilling down some more.

#6- Use text campaigns

You have to be creative in getting the numbers so that you can use this technique.  There are lists that you can buy, but you want to make sure that you get them from a reputable source.  The good news is that everyone has to eat and lots of people eat out on a semi-regular basis.  The benefit of texting promotions is that unlike other marketing blasts, most people will open a text.  I can tell by the “sent from” and subject line of an email that I am going to send it straight to trash but text messages are different, you open them up!

#7- Loyalty programs

My first memory of a strong loyalty program was Subway.  You used to collect a sticker for every foot long you ordered and after you filled out a whole card you got a free foot long.  What a great idea!  Most restaurants have hard plastic cards that they hand out to do the same thing.  My pizza joint swipes my card and it keeps a running tally of what I have spent.  I can “cash it in” relatively quickly to receive a free 2 liter of soda or I can run it up for quite some time to get a package of pizzas, garlic knots, and soda at a significant discount.  It is a great way to encourage return visits.

#8- Free promotional giveaways

I have two giveaways that come to mind as examples:

1- Everyone gets a free Slurpee at 7-11 on July 11th

2- If there was a homerun hit in a world series game, everyone in the US got a free taco from Taco Bell

Giving the stuff away is the easy part (maybe not financially) but the difficult part is making people aware.  Put it in the local rag, Pennysaver, maybe a radio spot?  If you have a decent Twitter or Facebook following this is another great way to advertise.  “Like us for a free coffee.”  The point is to get people that do not typically go to your location to do so.

#9- Utilize Social Media

I touched on this briefly in #8.  By now, everyone knows what Facebook is and most people are active users.  Think about this for a moment; all users fill out a profile that can be relatively light on details or very heavy.  Let’s assume that most people fall somewhere in the middle.  What these profiles yield is gold.  What people like, what groups they are a part of, their age, sex, LOCATION.  Very quickly, you can advertise on Facebook to target a specific audience.  You can do the same thing on Twitter.  Again, there are lists that are available as well to be able to target specific regions and towns.  Although not social media, Amazon also collects all the data from people that order from them.  I get emails every day with dine-in specials, massage specials, flight specials, etc., because of all the data that has been collected by them and their affiliates (i.e. American Express).  As a business, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to advertise through these means as well because it is so focused.

#10- Update your curb appeal

There is something to be said about being the “hole in the wall” where everybody knows your name and becoming a staple in the community.  However, how many of those locations stand the test of time?  Just last week my wife and I were driving back from a sonogram in somewhat unfamiliar territory, and it was right around lunch time.  I wanted to get back to work so we were looking for something quick.  Out here on Long Island there is a deli on every corner, so that was what we searched for.  We must have passed at least 3 delis because of their curb appeal.  Dark, dingy, a single florescent light flickering in the window, whatever it was, we weren’t stopping.  Finally we stopped at a deli that had clean floor to ceiling windows, a bright sign outside and once inside it was equally inviting.  There was no tattered signage, it was easy to order, and everything looked fresh.  Now could the other three delis have made a better sandwich?  To be honest - probably but they didn’t get our business because of their curb appeal.

There you have it, 10 ways to make some more money in 2013.  I have to reiterate, I would hardly expect someone to try and tackle all of these in one calendar year.  Most budgets just simply wouldn’t allow for it.  So pick two or three and give it an honest shot.  Make sure you record your sales to see if you are getting anywhere.  Don’t become discouraged too quick.  Remember, there is an adjustment period for consumers as well.

What else would help drive your sales in 2013?  We’d love to hear your suggestions so that we could share them!  Give us a call today at 888-235-2579.