Restaurant Doctor Hospitality Resources

How to Build Volume Without Losing Your Shirt

59½ Money-Making Marketing IdeasTrade paperback, 160 pages, 5½"x8½"
Copyright 2000
Published by Hospitality Masters Press

Add to Cart


Every restaurateur wants to build sales but nobody has an unlimited advertising budget and most operators have had only limited success with increasing check averages. Fortunately, there are ways to boost volume that are simpler, more effective, much less risky ... and almost free!

The secret is to get existing guests to come back more often and have them say wonderful things about you to their friends. This book will give you 59½½ painless prescriptions that can help you not only increase sales but gain the enthusiastic backing of both your guests and your staff in the process!

Among other things, this book outlines:

  • 3 ways to increase diner frequency
  • 20 ways to build a personal connection between your guests and your restaurant
  • 12 ways to make your restaurant more user-friendly
  • 13 things you can do to get your guests talking about you
  • 11½ ways you can set yourself apart from your competition

59½ Money-Making Marketing Ideas
How to Build Volume Without Losing Your Shirt



 1. Build loyalty, not the check average
 2. Invite guests to return
 3. Start a frequent diner plan

Part 2: BUILD PERSONAL CONNECTION ... between the staff and guests
 4. Respect the power of presence
 5. Learn and use guests' names
 6. Learn and use the names of your guests' children
 7. Remember guests' preferences

 8. Encourage call parties
 9. Have the chef serve the meal
10. Show sincere gratitude
11. Speak in complete sentences

12. Make personal recommendations
13. Reinforce guests' decisions
14. Provide business cards for everyone on your staff
15. Focus on guest delight

Part 3: BUILD PERSONAL CONNECTION ... with the restaurant
16. Get a good start
17. Start a mug club
18. Create a Wall of Fame
19. Send thank-you notes

20. Do a better job with birthdays
21. Get the kids involved
22. Hold a guest appreciation dinner
23. Buy regular guests a bottle of wine

24. No unhappy guests
25. Of course we can!
26. Resolve complaints quickly
27. Offer an escort to the car

28. Make it easy for large groups
29. Allow for the needs of blind patrons
30. On-time reservations
31. Provide armchairs for elderly diners

32. Provide diaper-changing tables
33. Get permission before refilling coffee or tea
34. Adjust the appetizer to the size of the party
35. Bring a fresh cup of coffee

36. Understand how word-of-mouth works
37. Educate guests as to why they dine with you
38. Offer free _____ if guests have to wait
39. Give away free meals

40. Invest in a few restroom amenities
41. Provide stuffed animals to "dine" with the kids
42. Put in a Lego® table and play area
43. Provide a toy box

44. Schedule occasional "front door" deliveries
45. Offer free postcards
46 Provide a selection of reading glasses
47. Have a selection of sunglasses on the deck
48. Do something unexpected

49. Differentiate the basics
50. Use oversized wine glasses
51. Offer wines based on consumption
52. Serve bottles of beer in a bucket of ice

53. Establish signature items
54. Offer a selection of local or regional beverages
55. Offer smaller portions at smaller prices
56. Give guests "something for nothing"

57. Engage in unexpected service methods
58. Garnish the doggy bag
59. Offer regional menu items
59½. The best idea of all

About the Author
Reading and Resources

Add to Cart



A few years ago I was conducting training programs in Northern Ireland. The question I was repeatedly asked was, "What do you think of the restaurants in Ireland?"

What I noticed was that the restaurants were only as good as they had to be to stay in business. Perhaps it was lack of strong competition or lack of a model for what was possible. Whatever the case, I had many good meals that could easily have been great, if only a few small points had been addressed.

It was easy to see in another culture, but when I returned to the United States, it occurred to me that it is really no different in our country. "Good enough" seems to be good enough ... until some new competition forces operators to raise their food and service to a higher level.

Well, that time has come!

Restaurant sales are growing steadily as a healthy economy makes for more disposable income. But the number of restaurants is increasing faster than either the population or dining dollars. In other words, the pie is getting bigger but there are more and more slices being taken out of it.

Competition is on the increase and many operators are facing deteriorating sales volumes for the first time in their professional careers.

The American business psyche seems to believe that we always have to do more volume than we did last year, so the erosion of profits creates a real dilemma, both financially and psychologically.

Shrinking Market Area
As more restaurants enter the market, the distance people are willing to drive is steadily declining.

Mike Hurst, the late owner of 15th Street Fisheries in Fort Lauderdale, Florida estimated that ten years ago, his guests came 15-20 miles for dinner. Today, he says, the majority of his diners live within 2½ miles of his restaurant and the radius is slowly tightening.

People will drive by two or three other restaurants to get to you but, unless you are a serious destination restaurant, they are not likely to drive past twenty or thirty other places. They don't have to!

Guest-Based Marketing
So your most realistic option to build sales has to come from guests who are already within the acceptable travel distance ... and your dining room is full of them! The trick is to be able to get them to come back again and again ... and that is the basis of what I call guest-based marketing.

Building volume from your existing customer base is less expensive and more effective than advertising because you already know who the people are and can reach them directly. By contrast, when you put an ad in the newspaper, 98% of the people who read it would not come to you on a bet -- you are just too far away.

The following pages are full of hints on how to build volume from your existing customer base without losing your shirt in the process.

The ideas are taken from my popular seminar on the same subject and are excerpted from my past books, most notably Guest-Based Marketing, 50 Tips to Improve Your Tips and Cashing In On Complaints.

If you already have these books in your library, this small volume will be a mini refresher course. If you do not have them, and want to explore these ideas in more depth, you will find more information on books and materials on Page 148.

A Word of Caution
You will do better to understand the thinking behind the ideas presented here than to blindly adopt them. Not every suggestion is appropriate for every restaurant (and implementing all of them is totally inappropriate for any operation!)

The trick is to adapt, not adopt. If you grasp the premise behind the idea and the principles that make it work, you will be able to identify and implement your own unique approach.

Get Busy
It is time to raise the bar. "Good enough" is no longer acceptable if you hope to survive and prosper in the new marketplace. I know everyone is doing the best they can at the moment, but doing the best you can is materially different from being as good as you can be ... and better than you have to be.

Why settle for good if you can be great? Do it now before your competition discovers these ideas!

Add to Cart