Boost Your Profits with Appetizers and Desserts

While many diners are in “dine and dash” mode whenever they go out to eat, there is still a large segment of restaurant guests who enjoy ordering a first course and/or a last course. Restaurants of all shapes and sizes often overlook appetizers and desserts, and will throw a generic offering together just in case, but by making a commitment to offering unique appetizers and thoughtful desserts, it can be the profit boost your restaurant needs to continue to grow. Here are a few great tips on making sure your guests don’t skip out on apps and dessert during their next visit.

Don’t Buy Pre-Packaged

Certain items, like onion rings, mozzarella sticks, and fries, are a staple in every appetizer section of menus. Unfortunately, restaurants see this as an easy opportunity to cut corners and serve the same old frozen, then fried, appetizers to guests. Sure, they may eat it, but taking extra effort to add a unique twist or ingredient to an otherwise “boring” menu item can leave a lasting impression on that customer. A unique spin on an old-favorite will have customers raving about it to friends and family.

Go the Extra Mile

To build off the previous point, it truly takes something spectacular to sell appetizers and desserts. Most of your guests will already have made up their mind about ordering one or not, so the extra effort put into designing and creating enticing offerings is what will make the difference in the “other” guests who may or may not order one or both. Not only should these appetizers be unique and appealing, but they also need to be prominently displayed on the menu or tabletop display. The visual aspect of this new offering will be what gets the initial order, but the delicious decadence of the appetizer or dessert will be what makes them order it again and again each time they visit your restaurant.

Train and Incentivize

A restaurant’s wait staff doesn’t have many opportunities to upsell the customer, but appetizers and desserts is the perfect area to allow them to give it a shot. Before setting the wait staff loose, ensure the staff goes through the proper training to learn proper upselling techniques in a restaurant environment. Once staff is ready, incentivize the servers by tracking total app and dessert sales over a period of time, with a prize for the weekly or monthly winner. If your menu regularly changes, be sure to allow servers to taste new items to be able to give honest first-hand recommendations to their customers. Guests can see through an “Oh, it’s my favorite” recommendation from a mile away!

Know Your Guests

What type of crowd does your restaurant attract? If you are full from open to close, then both appetizers and desserts can do very well. If your main crowd is a business lunch-type, then clean, quick appetizers are the perfect addition. Do guests come to celebrate special occasions at your restaurant regularly? If yes, then develop a dessert menu that has lavish selections, as well as some classics with a unique touch.

Take these steps in revisiting your menu this year, and you’ll see that appetizers and desserts are not only a great way to improve your margins, but are also additional opportunities for your restaurant to leave a lasting impression on your guests that will have them returning to your restaurant for years to come.