While restaurants showed some slowdown in May and June, there is still a silver lining in this industry’s often darkening clouds. The good news is this: Guests are spending more when they visit your restaurant. 2018 has, thus far, seen average guest checks up by almost 3 percent. In 2017, this number came in at just over 2 percent.
The bottom line: Customers are enjoying meals at restaurants less frequently but spending more when they do decide to visit your establishment. With this knowledge in hand, it becomes clear that one of the most important benchmarks to consider is your Average Order Value (AOV) or the average total bill.
Modern Restaurant Management used their online ordering platform to come up with these AOV benchmarks for various types of restaurants. While not written in stone, these numbers can give you a general idea if your establishment is falling in the “average” range.
Here are a few of the various online ordering values:
- American – $25.67
- Asian – $39.16
- Indian – $44.79
- Italian – $35.93
- Steakhouse – $30.21
- Sushi – $40.37
How Steakhouses came in under Italian eateries, I’m not quite sure. As you can imagine, there is, underneath these statistics, a wide range of what is considered average. If you don’t know what your restaurant’s average check comes in at, now is the time to determine your AOV. After knowing where you currently stand, make raising that percentage just one of your many goals.
Tips for Increasing a Restaurant’s AOV
- Provide your staff with the information they need to excel at sales.
As any long-term restaurateur will tell you, a knowledgeable staff is one of the keys to success. This includes a thorough understanding of both menu and ingredients, including beverages and deserts—two often overlooked elements in the server’s training manual.
When I walk into a restaurant, ask the server a question about a menu item and receive the reply: “Let me ask the kitchen,” I stop asking.
- An understanding of the difference between service and sales.
It’s important that your restaurant staff treat each guest as an individual, avoiding the “cookie-cutter” approach that involves the same spiel at every table. Authentic engagement is an important phrase to repeat in your training modules. In a restaurant, it means taking the time to understand what a specific customer is looking for in terms of both their meal and experience, and then offering recommendations based on their expectations. Knowing the product gives your staff the confidence they need to make suggestions that will enhance your customer’s experience.
- Up-selling versus Cross-selling.
Up-selling involves offering a more expensive version such as when a glass of house red wine turns into a nice cabernet. Cross-selling refers to selling additional items. This is illustrated by the server that suggests a specific appetizer to accompany guest’s craft beers or an after-dinner coffee drink or dessert.
For these sales tactics to work, timing is everything. If I’m just finishing a glass of wine but still have half of my meal left to enjoy, I am much more likely to say yes when the server asks if I’d like a refill. On the other hand, if they don’t reach my table until I’ve just about completed my dinner, I will more likely take a pass.
- Offer online ordering.
According to Pizza Sales, the average online pizza order is 18 percent higher than orders by phone. It’s easy to understand how this statistic comes about. People making online orders have time to browse, can take their time when looking at additional add-ons, and take advantage of “online” offers. Your website becomes your best cross-selling strategy.
Teaching your Staff
One of the many complaints I’ve heard from managers when I’ve suggested additional training for staff members is: “I don’t have the time!” And understandably so. The life of a restaurant manager is often filled with long to-do lists and fires that require immediate quenching.
Fortunately, technology has come to our aid. There are several training opportunities on the market that can help your staff excel and increase their AOV while keeping your managers sane.
- Tipzyy is a mobile platform that teaches your servers about both food and beverages and how to elegantly upsell. By supplying this information as a mobile app, it connects with your staff where most of them spend a significant amount of their time—their Smartphones. In addition to increasing your staff’s knowledge, it offers a performance record after every shift and rewards and recognizes them for their achievements.
- HotSchedules recently partnered with 360Training in order to offer unlimited access to a library of Food Safety and Responsible Alcohol Service training courses. Their learning management platform offers training, quizzes and certifications.
It’s almost unbelievable, but we are half-way through 2018. Now is a great time to take stock of what this year has delivered and in what areas you’d like to expand. Consider setting up competitions that recognize staff that increase their AOV.