Most restaurants, if they care about keeping their customers coming back at all, are constantly looking for ways to add value to their product. Not an easy thing to do, however, you should always be searching for ways to do it. Steal ideas from other restaurants, if necessary. Or other businesses. Google it. It’s ok!
There are a couple of great ones: There is a place in my neighborhood that offers both still water, and sparkling water, at no charge. When you are greeted by the server, they ask if they can get you some water, and then ask if you would like bubbles or not. Just like many places in Europe.
I think this is a brilliant idea. With just a little up-front cost, you can set up a CO2 system in your restaurant or bar, and offer this. Portland has great water, and sparkling water does not have to come in a bottle that has been shipped 5,000 miles. Think of that carbon foot print (I am so Portland).
Of course this guy is charging more elsewhere to make up for it, but he can because he is ADDING VALUE. Customers are not likely to notice or care that he is charging three dollars more for smaller portions since he is providing the value somewhere else.
There is a place in town that serves great food and drink. They also bake their own bread daily. If you happen to be there at closing time, they hand out the left-over bread of the day to those still lingering. Again, a great idea. How much does it cost to hand over some free flour and yeast? Besides, that bread is not going to be up to your standards to serve the next day. And you can only make and use so many croutons or savory bread pudding. Might as well look good giving it away for free.
There is a nice French restaurant in town that offers their Manhattans differently than most places. They serve the drink in a small decanter, chilled on the side, and the server pours it (not all of it) in to your chilled Manhattan glass. It certainly seems like there is more in the glass than there actually is, because there is still some left in that cute decanter–an old-school trick, but effective for adding value. Even though it has the same 1 1/2 ounces of bourbon as they pour down the street.
Presentation definitely adds value. So does packaging. I wrote (a long time ago) about paying $12 for a drink being the new normal. Which is fine if you are including some added value. It can’t just be a 1 1/4 ounce drink dumped in to a glass. There needs to be some other value added to make that $12 palatable to the customer.
Other ways to add value:
Service. Ambiance. View. Customer relations (technically falls under the service category, but deserves a category on its own). The possibilities are endless.
Find a way
There are a million of ideas out there. Find some. There is this thing called the internet. Just ask Al Gore. Use it. Find some ideas that make sense for your place and utilize them.