Raising Prices in your Restaurant: How to Innovate Your Food, Service and Staff

Restaurants have to change. Those that are able to stay open are having to change the way they do things in order to keep up.

In 1970, a Cadillac Coupe DeVille had a price tag of just over $6,000 (that’s about $40,000 in today’s dollars). In 2020, the CT5 was released with a starting price tag of over $45,000.

Sure, inflation is a huge part of that, but think about the INNOVATION that has taken place in the car industry over those 50 years.

The cost to build that car has dramatically increased but they are not selling you a 1970’s version of the Cadillac. You’re not cranking your windows down by hand and your car is LOADED with things that weren’t even possible in 1970.

The Upheaval of The Restaurant Business

The cost of doing business in your restaurant has escalated so quickly that many can’t keep up. Food cost, labor cost … it’s all at an all-time high.

The only way to keep up is to increase your prices.

No one is going to fault you for that.

What you want to avoid is raising your prices just for the sake of raising prices.

At one point during the pandemic, people were happy to support local businesses. They knew the restaurant had been closed down for months and had been losing business.

2 years later, we’re seeing things return to normal. Customers are no longer OK with paying $5 for the same fries that used to cost $4 – especially when they’re being hit hard in the pocketbook at the grocery store and gas stations too.

I know this isn’t your fault. You’re being hit just as hard in the same areas but as a business owners, we have to find creative ways to get around the problems that we’re facing.

Gone are the days of just opening a restaurant that serves good food.

Gone are the days of opening another “generic” restaurant.

Gone are the days of just having good customer service.

Where and How To Innovate In Your Restaurant

There’s 3 places where you can create innovation in your restaurant.

The Customer Experience

How do you want your customer to feel when they walk in the door? When they interact with your team? When they take that first bite of food?

List those 3 things across the top of a sheet of paper and ask your entire staff how we’re making sure those things happen AND what they think could be added to that list.

It doesn’t stop there. Think about the reasons that people might leave your restaurant. Are they going to head home because their phones are dying? Install charging stations at the table.

What about inclusivity? MeMe’s Diner in New York City trains their staff to greet everyone using gender-neutral terms like “Hey Folks” instead of “Hey ladies”.

The Food

During the pandemic, people learned quickly what they need and what they can live without. If we want people to come back to the restaurants the way they used to, we have to give them a reason to show up. It can’t be to get the same old thing they can make at home for way less money.

The Holiday Inn offered a kid’s happy hour where chocolate milk and cookies were served.

If you have an outdoor patio, offer a Dog’s Happy hour with a treat menu for the pooch and a special $5.00 cocktail only available that day.

In Situ, in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art wanted a restaurant that mirrored a museum so they ditched the idea of having a chef special and instead offered a rotating menu of signature dishes from 80 chefs from around the world.

The Team

If you want to have an amazing restaurant, it starts with having an amazing team. I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you don’t actively show your team that you care about them, they’re never going to feel it. When they don’t feel like they matter in your business, they won’t care about the work they do.

Start talking to your team. Find out what they love and hate most about working in your restaurant. Ask them what it would take to get them to leave. Yes – you read that right. Knowing what could cause them to leave gives you amazing insights into what would cause them to stay.

If another restaurant paid you more money, would you leave? If the answer is yes then you want to look for ways that fix that. And this is where innovation comes in. It doesn’t always have to be a wage hike.

How can you incentivize your employees? What’s important to them?

Have you thought about running contests? Raydiant has awesome unique solutions for digital signs geared toward back-of-house operations.

At the end of the day, we all know that prices have to go up. I want to make sure that rather than just charging more for the same thing, you’re finding ways to innovate the experience and food that your guests receive.

Inside the TRB Membership this month, I’m doing a special training called INNOVATE – How Great Leaders Build Great Companies. If you’re struggling to find ways to innovate inside your business, there is no better time to become a member.

Click here to join us – you’ll not only get access to all the previous monthly trainings, but you will also join the live Q&A where you can ask me anything and you’ll receive access to all of my training programs.


Read More

Running a Restaurant Isn't Hard

The #1 complaint in restaurant management is poor employee performance. If you’re not following this simple 5-step plan to train your employees, you’re never going to get the results that you want from them …ㅤㅤㅤ

Busy Is Killing Your Restaurant

Are you busy? There are things you’re doing all day, every day in your restaurant and it’s those things that are going to put you out of business. There are 4 things you can do today to battle the busy inside your restaurant …