Beverage sales can be liquid gold for your operation in terms of profit margin, and drink service can really heat up in the summer months as thirsty customers fill your tables. Be ready to meet their needs and boost your bottom line with these considerations for building a better beverage program.
Use data to bend the trends. Look at current and upcoming beverage trends, then do your research to make sure there are sales to back them up. With that knowledge, you can craft beverages keyed into what your customers will like and stand out from the crowd. In other words: know the data and the trends, then use them to your advantage to create a point of differentiation.
Stay on-brand. As you strategize your seasonal beverage program, keep in mind that the sips you’re considering should fall in line with your overall brand. For example, with its Polynesian background, a Mai Tai might not make sense for an Italian eatery. But, a Bellini, Aperol Spritz, Limoncello or Italian soda would be right at home.
Use your vendors. Once you’ve wrapped your head around the data and have a solid beverage strategy in place, seek input from your vendors for development. Their experience and product knowledge could prove invaluable.
Pick wisely. Keep fine tuning your refreshments until you land on the right product mix for your menu and your operation. Also consider non-alcoholic drinks like sparkling flavored water, fruit smoothies and iced coffees or tea, as relevant to your brand.
Adopt a “barbell” approach. Picture your basic barbell—weighted on both sides, thin bar in the middle, balanced overall. You can apply this same approach to your beverage menu by offering regular, recurring drinks at a standard price-point and flanking them with frequent, new drinks offered at a premium price. If executing this concept, evaluate weekly and make changes as necessary to drive guest counts and repeat visits from your regulars.
Train right. Before any new drink menus are printed, bring your staff up to speed. Thoroughly train them on the new offerings and include what’s in it for the customer and what’s in it for them, so they understand how they and the end user will benefit. Improved drink offerings equate to an enhanced guest experience and with that can come more sales, bigger tips and better customer interactions. Also, conduct a tasting with your team. Knowing the beverages by description and flavor will help your staff suggest them with confidence and authenticity.
Market to motivate sales and feedback. Use menu inserts, table tents, signage and social media to advertise your bevy of beverages, both the standbys and the specials. Social media can be especially effective at drawing attention to your drinks and empowers customers to socialize your sips and their experience with your restaurant.
Reiterate and reassure. As your communications roll out, it’s a good idea to reiterate that your staff adheres to responsible serving and encourages responsible drinking among your patrons. Doing so will reassure your local community that you’re committed to its health and wellness.
With your brand and a solid strategy as the backbone, a summer beverage program can help carve out differentiation while simultaneously driving incremental sales. As the season progresses, we hope you’ll take a moment, take it all in and raise a glass to everyone who helped make it successful.