The New Drivers of Restaurant Profit, Explained

The restaurant industry has completely transformed in the digital economy. So what are the new restaurant profit drivers in this marketplace?

What does it take for someone to decide to dine at your restaurant? Once upon a time, the answer was as simple as location, ambiance, quality food and service, consistency, cleanliness, and value. None of this has gone out of style, but the landscape has become more complex.

Consumers now make the majority of their decisions through their phones, tablets, and computers. This digital filter creates another layer of challenges for restaurants that want to fill their tables, as well as incredible opportunities to drive new profit.

What are the new restaurant profit drivers?

Restaurant profit drivers have always been a mixture of operational and market-based factors. Operational factors include menu pricing, productivity, and cost cutting. External factors include customer satisfaction and market share.

The digital economy has transformed the way restaurants can influence customer satisfaction and market share with third-party delivery apps and review platforms like Yelp, Google Business Profiles, and OpenTable. Now, maximizing efficiency and having top-notch food, staff, and ambiance are the bare minimum in the industry. To compete, restaurant operators have to understand the new digital restaurant profit drivers:

Digital convenience

How easy is it to book a table, place an order, or schedule delivery from your restaurant?

When consumers find your restaurant online, they expect to reserve their table or order food in as few clicks as possible. It’s even better if they don’t have to leave the platform where they found your restaurant. Seamless online transactions are the key to maximizing convenience.

A study by UC Riverside found that third-party delivery apps generated more than $19 billion in sales for restaurants in California alone during the pandemic. These digital ecosystems offer restaurants an active, built-in user base to tap into; operators just need to ensure they can profitably cover the 10% to 15% service fees.

Online reputation

What do other consumers say about your restaurant online?

PYMNTS reported that more than 55% of consumers now consider online reviews as a factor in their restaurant choice. Before deciding where to dine, a growing number of consumers look at ratings, read other user reviews and comments, and notice whether you’ve bothered to respond to any of them. If you have a low star rating, negative reviews, and no comment on platforms like Yelp, chances are consumers will pass over your restaurant for a safer option. In fact, if you have a low star rating and negative reviews, most platforms will filter your profile to the bottom of the search results.

Be vigilant about cultivating a positive online reputation on as many restaurant and business review platforms as you can manage. It can take a lot of work, but it will help build a loyal following and attract a steady stream of new consumers over time.

Shareability

What do people want to share about your restaurant?

Introductions to your business often begin on third-party websites and apps where potential consumers can get a sense of the ambiance and food through user-generated photos. Websites like Yelp and Google allow users to upload pictures to give other curious consumers a preview of the dining experience. Meanwhile, social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook let consumers share your restaurant’s design, menu, or events in order to amplify your reach.

Consider what you can change or improve about your restaurant to inspire more online shares. Can you host regular events that attract your target audience? Add signature, Instagrammable decor? Spruce up food presentation? Be creative, but don’t go overboard and undo your cost-cutting efforts.

Getting the most out of new restaurant profit drivers

Upside is a new kind of digital restaurant profit driver that connects hundreds of thousands of consumers in your area to your restaurant. The digital marketplace puts your restaurant on their phone screens and incentivizes them to choose you in the most profitable way possible. It also works alongside any of your existing programming to boost impact.  

Upsiders may even be inspired to post about your restaurant on social media or leave a positive review on Yelp. Best of all, Upside doesn’t require any effort or upfront costs on your part, and there are no service or processing fees. You only share incremental profit so you always stay in the black.

Learn more about driving more revenue for your restaurant in our new eBook.