Playing the $3 Game

Jun 27, 2019

Need to increase restaurant sales quickly but not sure where to start? Focus on small wins for big gains.

When single-unit operators contact us for help, most often they’re concerned about sales and operating costs, or both. With rising wages and increased competition — not to mention hefty third-party delivery fees — operators know they need to reign in expenses and boost their efficiency. Fast.

Oftentimes the best place to start is with an in-depth operations assessment. When we visit a client’s restaurant to analyze their operations, we bring a small team who homes in on all parts of the business, from the flow of food down the cooks’ line to taking inventory to steps of service to food quality and presentation. This list merely scratches the surface of what we do. Our goal is to do a deep dive into every aspect of our client’s restaurant to uncover opportunities for greater efficiency and innovation. While we’re delving into the intricacies of production pars, labor utilization, and ticket times, we often uncover “low-hanging fruit,” or quick fixes that our client can put into practice right away to reduce operating costs or bump up their sales.

During an in-depth operations assessment with a client last year who needed to kick-start sales, we encouraged the client to focus on those quick wins by inventing the $3 Game. The rules were simple — look for ways to increase their average check by $3. That’s it.

The client knew that they needed to overhaul a number of basic operating systems in their restaurant, from the POS technology to inventory management to training programs. This amount of change often feels daunting for clients. While these large-scale changes needed to happen, we wanted to show our client that they could make an immediate sales impact by getting creative and making some simple changes.

We kicked off the game with a few suggestions:

· Give the customer a reason to spend more money: Since higher-priced luxury items like steak sold well, add a great ribeye steak as a weekend special.

· Increase perceived value by the customer: By elevating cocktail garnishes with over-the-top touches, the customer sees greater value and is more willing to pay extra.

· Create a sense of urgency: Feature and promote high-value seasonal items on your menu to drive traffic and sales margins.

Game on! The client gladly accepted our challenge by:

· Increasing sales by improving plate presentations on a few underperforming menu items;

· Reinventing other menu items with high-demand ingredients to broaden appeal, and;

· Upping the price on a couple of good sellers that were underpriced relative to their competition.

After wrapping up our operations assessment, we continued to play the $3 Game with our clients by texting back and forth to check on progress. Our client texted photos of their creative ideas and their immediate sales impact.

We were thrilled to see our client put all of our ideas in motion, as well as their own. They gained confidence knowing that they could use the tools we gave them to increase sales on their own.

Who won the $3 Game? Our client of course.