“Let’s Go Somewhere Else. They Don’t Have…”

 In 1. David Scott Peters, Increase sales, Menu

Restaurant owners work hard every day to meet the needs of their diverse restaurant guests and their range of tastes, but they often miss the one or two things they’re not doing that cost them literally thousands of dollars in lost opportunity each year.

Following are some examples of things to consider for your range of diverse restaurant guests to increase your sales.

Scenario No. 1

When I was the chief operating officer for a franchisor of a 30-restaurant sports bars chain, I had a company credit card, like many other executives. I traveled a lot, visiting the franchisees. I conducted most of my meetings in restaurants. And I chose these restaurants based on whether or not they accepted my corporate AMEX card.

Yes, I know, as a restaurant operator, you probably wish you didn’t have to take AMEX. But you see, you can’t afford not to carry AMEX because of lost opportunity. There is a large number of business people who are traveling right now only armed with that card. And if you don’t carry it, they are taking their business somewhere else.

Scenario No. 2

When I was the operations manager of an independently owned multi-unit brew pub and café we were extremely proud to be producing and serving some the best beers you would find anywhere. Heck, we even won a medal at the Great American Beer Festival!

As beer geeks and maybe even snobs, we originally chose not to carry any domestic beers. We felt like we could convert anyone and everyone to enjoying hand crafted ales and lagers.

When we opened our second location, we were only blocks away from where three professional sports teams played their home games. We quickly learned that sports fans — and the average beer drinker — tend to drink light beer. So we started carrying the top three domestic brands. If we didn’t carry those beers, the rush of sports fans was going to go somewhere else.

Soon after we learned this lesson, our original location started carrying them, too.

What’s sad about this is we had already learned this lesson. It was the same reason we carried a small selection of wines, which represented less that 2 percent of our sales. We knew that if we didn’t carry wine, the one wine drinker in a party of eight could steer that group to another restaurant. It’s business you don’t want to lose.

Scenario No. 3

One of my Elite Members has an extremely busy seafood restaurant in Delaware. They understand the principle of if you don’t carry it, they WILL go somewhere else.

One of their top selling items on the weekends is their prime rib special — of all things in a seafood restaurant. In fact, people travel from all over just for this special.

They understand that not everyone likes seafood and if they not only have an option or two for the non-seafood lover but make it incredible, their restaurant will be full.

ID what you’re missing

Here’s a short list of questions to get you started on determining if there’s anything you can add that will stop people from coming because you don’t have that one thing.


  1. Do you offer a healthy appetizer, sandwich, salad or entrée?
  2. Do you offer gluten-free menu items?
  3. Do you offer sugar-free desserts?
  4. Do you offer vegetarian menu items?


  1. Do you offer a great iced tea?
  2. Do you serve liquor, beer or wine?
  3. Do you offer a gourmet root beer?
  4. Do you offer soy milk?

Payment Options

  1. Do you take all major credit cards?
  2. Do you accept checks?

WARNING – You can’t be all things to all people

As you go through this exercise of identifying opportunities that will result in brining in more business, know that you can’t be all things to all people. The key is to keep it simple.

Simply ask yourself the following questions:

1) If I add this, will it be worth the effort?

2) Will it slow down my kitchen?

3) Will it affect my end product quality?

4) Will it slow down or affect service?

5) Will it make my restaurant better?
The goal here is to not be so narrow minded about your restaurant’s style that you aren’t willing to make a few necessary exceptions here and there. Consider each of the scenarios above and see if you find yourself in any of them. If so, it’s time to make some changes and eliminate the problem of “Let’s Go Somewhere Else. They Don’t Have…”

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