Small Space, Big Results

Sep 1, 2017

They say that good things come in small packages, and when you look at many establishments in the hospitality industry this is most certainly true. From the famed restaurants of Tokyo that seat 10 people or less to the rise and rise of the small bar culture, small venues are big business. Or are they?

When you’re significantly limiting the number of patrons you’re able to serve on any given night purely as a result of the size of your space, how do you maximize sales?

Here are a few ideas:

Increase return patronage

The old business saying goes that it’s twice as expensive to gain a new customer than to keep an existing one. In fact, a Harvard study of the restaurant industry revealed that increasing the number of repeat customers by 5%, can increase profits by 25% to 125% – so make sure your current customers feel the love. It goes without saying that ensuring customer experiences are always exceptional is step one, but what happens once the customer leaves? Provide incentives to return, encourage social media interaction, and communicate with them via relevant channels between visits to let them know you’d love to see them again.


Even if you can’t fit a lot of people into your venue at one time, you can most certainly aim to maximize sales from the customers you do have. Train staff in the art of upselling so that the offer of starters, wine, sides, and dessert is done as a genuine act of improving a patron’s dining experience rather than coming across as a hard sell. Also ensure staff know how to pick up on signs that a customer is open to additional ordering, and how to make the most of this.

Improve table turnover

For the most part, in order to maximize sales venues need to turn their tables as many times as possible during the day or service period. This of course needs to be done without rushing customers, and there are a few ways to ensure you’re maximizing your chances of ensuring multiple sittings. Set menu sittings are one very common way, with pre-determined reservations available that also limit time at a table. On the flip side, no booking venues can turn tables at pace without prescriptive bookings hindering the ability to fill an empty half an hour or so. Either way, your staff are a key part of ensuring you can turn tables as quickly – and as many times – as possible. Are tables being cleared and reset as soon as a party leaves? Are bills being presented and collected quickly, and do you have enough registers or POS systems in place to ensure timely service? All will help you to get more customers through the door – and out again.

Add a service

If your venue doesn’t offer take-away or delivery but has the ability to cater to this market, your customer numbers become almost unlimited. Online orders for take-away dining are often larger than dine-in bills, and the myriad of options available to at-home diners means restaurant diners are actually ordering take-away more often. Customers increasingly want quality food delivered to them, so give them what they want!

Engineer your menu

Spend some time forensically examining your menu. Work out if there are any menu items that are actually costing your business money instead of making it. Look at the least ordered dishes and work out why – is it price, or is it something else? Be strategic about not only what your menu offers, but at what price, to make sure that everything on there is working hard for your business.

VALUE ADD: Hear from Edward Mantel, the General Manager of Sales and Marketing at Priestly’s Gourmet at a free session on how to drive sales, add value and upsell. This session will be held on Wednesday 13 September at  12:30 pm at the Fine Food Australia Cafe Stage presented by Devondale on Level 1 of the ICC Sydney Exhibition Centre.

This article was included in the Fine Food Australia 2017 Newspaper. If you haven’t received a copy, you can check out the electronic version, or pick-up a copy at the show!

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