Check Average

There are two ways to up revenue in your restaurant:

1) Get more people to come in.

2) Get those coming in to spend more money.

I have spoken before on Marketing.

Yes, you could come up with strategies to figure out how to get more customers through that front door. In fact, you should. It is obviously a very important piece of the puzzle if you want to be successful.

But I want to share some thoughts on how to get those already in the place to pony up some more do-re-mi…

Up that check average

Before I give you some ideas on how to up the check average, let’s do some simple math:

If your restaurant is open 312 days a year, has 60 seats, averages about 1.5 turns a night (90 dinners a night), with a check average of $22 per person–you will sell about $617,760. If you are able to up that check average just $2 per person, you will end up selling $56,160 more! If you are controlling your food cost and labor cost, it means that you will have over $20,000 more in profit for that one year. Just by upping that check average a measly two bucks.

So put some strategies in place! Start with those servers. You know the ones I am talking about. Those servers who are just order takers. Who just write down what the customer orders–without ever making a suggestion.

Suggestive selling

How about: “Would you like a salad with that?”, or, “Want to try a cup of our wonderful soup to start you off?”, or maybe, “Want me to have them make that Manhattan with Maker’s Mark?

If it were me, I would look at the check averages of my various servers, and find who was consistently my top seller. I would then find ways to clone that person. At least figure out what they are doing so you can use that information to help train your other, less productive, servers.


This is a very effective tool. Someone orders the duck. The server seizes that opportunity to recommend a wine for that duck, that is a perfect match (of course, this assumes that your server knows a little bit about wine, and therefore is coming from a place of knowledge when suggesting that particular wine).


This is classic, cheesy corporate America at its best. Yet effective. Would you like some grilled chicken with that Caesar salad? Some blackened shrimp, perhaps?

More suggestive selling

The server goes up to a party of four after every one has finished their entrees, and asks if any one would like to try some dessert. They all say they are too full. The server says okay, and goes to get their check. How about this instead: “Would you like to split one dessert? That salted caramel pudding is to die for…”

All of a sudden the party of four is sharing an $8 dessert. The check average just went up $2 a person. BUT. Now they want coffee…um, no, a latte, an espresso, a cappuccino…a glass of dessert wine….That’s how it works, folks.

The chef

Get the chef involved with the staff. Have weekly afternoons where the chef talks about the food. If the chef is letting the servers taste and talk about the food, they will sell more. That is a fact.


No, not that one. The National Restaurant Association will identify the five most undersold items. I would look there.

2nd beverage before dinner

2nd wine with dinner

Side salad, soup, or side dish


After-dinner drink

Work with your staff. Come up with a plan. Don’t just wish it to come true. Take control and up those sales!




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