Today, we’re going to be delving into the art of the starter. Selling more appetizers can prove to be hugely profitable for your restaurant.

Thankfully, appetizers are an easy sell. Customers are at their very hungriest when they first sit down. Even though they probably don’t “need” an appetizer, they’ll almost certainly order one if the right starter catches their eye.

Let’s take a look at five tips to help your restaurant sell more appetizers.


1. Have some variety

Your top objective should be to encourage an appetizer sale for every single party that sits down. This means having a little variety in your starters, from both a price and portion perspective. Try to have appetizers that meet different customers needs.

This doesn’t mean you need to stack your menu with a huge list of appetizers. Just try to determine which appetizers are targeting which parties or customers. Consider your restaurant’s target audience.

For example, maybe you run a seafood restaurant that pulls in a lot of health conscious customer. In appealing to that audience, you might offer a shrimp cocktail for those who are counting calories. On the other hand, for those who want to indulge, you’re still going to want to have that fried calamari on your menu.


2. Design to share

There’s nothing like getting parties to order multiple appetizers. Of course, that can be a little more difficult if all of your appetizers are larger, possibly even portioned in mind for a single person.

Try offering an array of smaller dishes “designed to share.” This way, you institute a little portion control that promotes parties to order multiple options.


3. Happy Hour

Happy Hour and appetizers go hand-in-hand. Not only is Happy Hour one of the best ways to improve business during slower dayparts, appetizers are the perfect solution to do it with. Snack food is naturally a great pairing with alcoholic beverages, making Happy Hour the ideal time to push appetizers.

Depending on your restaurant, you may want to even consider having a seperate “Bar Menu” that customers can choose to order from during Happy Hour (or when they’re at the bar).


4. Create a signature appetizer

This is something that your restaurant becomes known for. It’s difficult to do organically, but there are a number of subtle ways you can “convince” customers that one of your appetizers is one of your restaurant’s signature choices (and to a further extent, even the entrees on your menu).

How? Start with visual aides. Here’s a few ideas.

  • Place a star next to the appetizer you’re trying to sell, along with any other signature dishes on the menu.
  • Place a box around your best-selling signature appetizer. This is the one you want them to order. Ideally, it’ll have a good profit margin compared to your other options.
  • Put your restaurant’s name into the title (Example: Oceanside Grille’s Smokin’ Chicken Wings).


5. Complimentary food

Is one of your restaurant’s staples complimentary bread or chips? One way to squeeze a few extra bucks out of your complimentary food is to offer something a little extra for a few bucks. This should be on top of what you’re already serving them of course.

What you should NOT DO: Provide bread without butter.

What you should DO: Sell a side of cheese fondue to dip the bread in.

You can apply this principle to pretty much any type of complimentary appetizer. If your chips come with a side of salsa, let your customers can pay extra for the guacamolee. If your pita bread comes with hummus, offer a spinach and artichoke dip to go along with it.


Sell More With CoGoBuzz

Want to really start selling more appetizers? With CoGoBuzz, we’ll get your customers thinking about what appetizer they’re going to order before they’ve even got to their table. Thanks to our advanced digital solutions, CoGoBuzz automatically engages customers via their mobile devices as soon as they connect to your in-store HotSpot!

Leveraging powerful WiFi, SMS, and Email solutions, our affordable service promotes your restaurant’s menus, deals, events and more (including your appetizers) – directly to customer mobile devices. All it takes is a simple, one-time login to the HotSpot. Because customers login through social media, Email, or phone number, we’ll even automatically create a full profile for every customer!

To learn more about the many benefits of CoGoBuzz, check out the rest of our website!

What does your restaurant do to sell more appetizers? Let us know in the comments!