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8 Ways to Boost Your Restaurant’s Basket Size as 2023 Approaches

While many restaurant promotional efforts focus on bringing new customers through the door, it’s important not to forget about engaging with the customers you already have. Increasing basket or ticket size is one of the most essential strategies to help boost your bottom line.

What is an Average Basket Size?

Average basket size also referred to as average order size, is the average amount your customers spend while placing an order on your online ordering system.

While this number will vary depending on your restaurant’s format and is highly dependent on how your menu items are priced, there are strategies you can employ to boost your basket size over time.


$200,000 Weekly Sales ÷ 1,000 Tickets = $20 Average Order Size

And while inflation is still impacting guests, studies show that that’s not all bad news for restaurant operators.

Stats to consider:

  • QSR net sales are up 1.4 percent YOY after experiencing a decline in overall performance in Q1 2022.

  • One in three consumers reported ordering "more or much more" from their favorite QSRs (up from 21 percent in Q1).

  • One in five respondents stated ordering more or much more from fast casual and full-service restaurants, an increase of four percent from Q1.

Once you calculate your restaurant’s average order size, try implementing some of the tips below to boost that number.

8 Ways to Increase Your Restaurant’s Average Basket Size

#1 - Upselling

Studies show that upselling and cross-selling can increase revenue by 10-30%. Though upselling and cross-selling are similar, (they are both ways to encourage customers to order more than they initially intended) there are two distinct differences.

  • Upselling is when your servers guide guests towards purchasing a more expensive version of an item. This includes things like subbing regular fries for sweet potato fries or upgrading from tap water to sparking.

  • Cross-selling is when a server suggests an additional item that pairs well with what the guest has already ordered like suggesting a wine to pair with their dish or recommending a dessert when the guest has just ordered a coffee after their meal. Another great way to up your sales is to cross-sell sides. When your customers purchase a main dish, point out the fact that you’ve just received an order from a local farm with fresh organic broccoli, for example.

#2 Combo packages and bundles

Structuring your menu offerings with combos and bundles is a proven way to increase your average order size. Offering fries and a drink with a burger order, for example, produce value for both customer and merchant.

An effective online ordering tool is one where combos are marketed to customers and orders can be upgraded with a simple click.

#3 Loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are a major component of your restaurant’s marketing engine. A well-structured loyalty program not only encourages your customers to visit your restaurant again but rewards your customers more as they spend more on your platform.

A well-designed loyalty points program that encourages customers to purchase items from your menu that yield higher profit margins, and rewards them with lower-cost items, raises the stakes even more. An example would be, “Purchase 10 specialty coffee drinks and get one small coffee.”

Just knowing that they’ll be rewarded makes them feel acknowledged and instantly gratified. Even if it takes 10 visits to get the free reward, every stamp makes them feel like they’re getting something, so they’ll likely come back.

This, in turn, generates brand promoters, who will spend more and spread the word about your brand. See our post, Gamification for Restaurant Delivery, for more information on the benefits of Loyalty Programs.

#4 Freebies and discounts

Offering discounts, freebies, and extras with a minimum order value is a proven way to encourage customers to spend more, increasing your average basket size. A two-for-one entree offer, complementary dessert with orders over $30, or free bread sticks with a minimum $20 order are just a few examples.

#5 Train servers to pick up on guest behaviors

Understanding your guests is a huge part of increasing your average order size. A guest who has a lot of questions about wine may also like to hear about your cheese board selection. A guest who comments on the cold weather might love to hear about your new selection of coffee specialty drinks.

Servers also need to understand that not everyone will be interested in hearing about your offerings, and that’s okay. If a guest is dead-set on their choices and seems uninterested (or engaged in a conversation and doesn’t want to be distracted), knowing when to back off is essential. Training new servers to learn the sweet spot between suggesting and annoying is a skill learned over time by veteran restaurant workers.

#6 Know what your regulars want

Statistics point out that it’s easier to upsell to customers who frequent your establishment. A customer happiness tactic, this is part of creating a relationship with regulars to keep them coming back. If you’ve noticed a regular customer has ordered the same dish several times, ask your staff to strike up a conversation with them.

Ask them what they like most about that dish or what flavors they’re looking for in their meal. This opens the door to making higher-margin suggestions in the future. Not only will they remember you for your great food, but they’ll appreciate you remembering them, enticing them to return and suggest your business to friends. A win-win.

#7 Educate servers

A key component of successfully increasing average order size by upselling and cross-selling is ensuring that your servers know the ins and outs of your menu.

When you add a new item, consider holding a training refresher course explaining the dish. Have your chef “guest star” by introducing staff to the new item, explaining the ingredients, sharing their motivation for creating it, or offering beneficial nutritional information. Then let each staff member have a chance to try free samples and act as taste-testers. Not only will this help to provide staff with a working knowledge and understanding of your menu so they can make appropriate suggestions, but it has the added effect of increasing morale and elevating confidence.

#8 Add More Modifiers to Your Restaurant POS System

While you want to ensure that your guests are able to upgrade and customize their items, you’ll also want to do the same for your servers. While they should all be trained on the menu and how to upsell and cross-sell, it’s human nature to forget once in a while, especially during a rush.

By adding more forced modifiers to your restaurant POS system, giving servers a pop-up reminder to ask guests about upgrades on sides, desserts, and beverages, assists them in increasing order size.

Take away

We’ve all been through a lot in the last few years but as business gets back to normal, it’s time to stop being satisfied with just staying afloat. Using these tips and tricks to increase your average basket size could result in a big boost to your restaurant’s bottom line as 2023 approaches.

By Eileen Strauss


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