Skip to content

Free Ways to Increase Restaurant Sales Without Advertising

How to Increase Restaurant Revenue Without Advertising

Ever wondered how so many restaurants can increase their sales without any advertising whatsoever? Besides the obvious things like increasing prices, what other actionable things can you do?

As a company that has helped countless businesses streamline and improve their operations for the better part of the last decade, we feel like we have the solution for you.

Without further ado, let’s discuss some free ways to boost your restaurant sales, all without spending a single cent on advertising.

Key Takeaways

How to Increase Sales Without Advertising in the Restaurant Industry

Restaurant Menu Optimization to Increase Restaurant Revenue Organically

By far the most noticeable thing that you can do is to optimize your restaurant’s menu for sales.

According to our data, a well-designed menu can passively and organically increase a restaurant’s revenue by as much as 14%!

Here are some low-hanging yet actionable tips to help you optimize your menu for sales:

  • Positioning High-Margin Items in Menu Hotspots
  • Price Anchoring High-Margin Items
  • Include Add-Ons & Upsizing Options

First off, let’s talk about menu hotspots. To keep it simple, menu hotspots are where your customer’s eyes are naturally drawn the most.

The best places for you to put high-margin items are at the top of every page because that’s where people naturally gravitate to, and also that’s when their attention span is most.

Here’s a chart that we made to give you an idea of how you can go about it:

Menu Optimization, Best Place to Put Menu Items
Simple Yet Effective!

On top of optimizing item placements, you should also consider price-anchoring high-margin items! But what is price anchoring exactly?

It’s straightforward – Price anchoring is essentially just positioning the key item you want to promote close to pricier options. This clever tactic creates a perception that the main item is a fantastic deal, leveraging the contrast with the more expensive alternatives.

Think about it this way: A $40 steak will look like a fantastic deal next to an $80 lobster!

Yes, price anchoring is good, but you should ideally use sales strategies like these on higher-margin items. This allows you to sell items with lower ingredient costs, as well as maximize profit instead of just sales.

Next, to tie it all together, include add-ons and upsizing options. Doing this allows you to naturally sell more in the grand scheme of things.

Having these options will also indirectly increase customer satisfaction, as particularly hungry diners can get more food for their dollar.

Include Clear Descriptions and Pictures

Menu Description Best Practices

This next point relates to restaurant menu optimization but deserves a whole category to itself – yes, it’s that important. Let’s start with having clear descriptions.

Having well-written and clear descriptions can increase sales by as much as 27%, according to a study done by Cornell University!

A good general rule of thumb is to be as descriptive as possible, without going over the top, while also emphasizing selling points! Here’s a sample:

  • Example of a simple description: Steak and Mashed Potatoes
  • Example of the same description but elevated: Succulent Grilled Ribeye Steak Paired With Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

The difference is huge, isn’t it? Make sure you’re honest with your descriptions, as going too over the top can cause a mismatch in customer expectations and result in a complaint and a less-satisfied customer.

Remove Currency Symbols from Your Restaurant’s Menu

It might be unconventional, but removing currency symbols from your menu can naturally increase restaurant revenue, organically. Why is that?

Well, not having currencies on your menu makes your customers not immediately associate the price with real currency.

This disconnect makes them more likely to spend more. The same effect happens when you’re paying for something using a credit card instead of cash.

It’s a little like using a credit card instead of cash – as paying with the former will make you feel a lot less guilty about how much you spent when compared to paying with cash.

This approach is also similar to the strategies used in places like Las Vegas casinos, using chips instead of physical currency to change the perception of spending.

Upselling & Cross-Selling Sales Strategies

Upselling and Cross-Selling are bread and butter for most restaurants. However, not many restaurants do it right, without sounding pushy or salesy.

Remember, it’s not about pushing the most expensive or highest margin every time.

The first thing to consider is staff training. Training your staff to upsell and cross-sell effectively is by far the most important factor.

Start by going through your menu and creating unique selling points for each item. On top of that, have a list of supplementary items that go well with every item.

Doing this will give your staff the best opportunity to cross-sell and suggest tailored suggestions to customers. A great example is teaching them what wine pairs the best with certain menu items.

Encouraging customers to go for larger sizes or enticing them to add extra items is a smart approach to upselling. Here’s a classic example:

Customer: Can I have a latte?

Waitstaff: Oat Milk or Almond Milk?

Customer: Oat Milk.

In this scenario, the waitstaff subtly employs upselling by offering limited choices.

By omitting the standard milk option and presenting alternative, slightly premium choices, it naturally nudges the customer towards an add-on, like opting for oat milk.

This seemingly small shift can effectively prompt an additional purchase without a hard sell!

Build Customer Loyalty Through a Loyalty Program

If you don’t want to spend on advertising, having an email list or loyalty program can be a great way to increase restaurant sales through customer loyalty!

Research has repeatedly shown that retaining a customer is a lot cheaper than trying to attract new customers, by up to 5 times. Which is probably why you’re reading this article now!

Having a loyalty program encourages your customers to stick with your brand, and that means providing them value. Value could be in the form of freebies, discounts, or even special perks every once in a while.

The return on investment (ROI) is apparent, as there is actionable data that suggests that customers spend an average of 10% more once they join a loyalty program!

We know the importance of having a loyalty program, which is why we have a loyalty program platform that anyone can use – KlikNGo.

You can use our platform to keep track of your members, send automated marketing emails, or even set promotions with just a few taps. The best part is that everything will be tailored to your brand, including colors and elements!

We understand that not everyone knows how to use complicated software, so we made it our mission to make sure everything is as easy to use as possible.

Interested to learn more? Click the button below to contact us and let us do everything for you!

Take Time to Optimize for Search Engines (SEO)

Local Map Pack Sample for Restaurant SEO
Never underestimate the power of a first-page ranking!

If customers are actively looking for places to eat, particularly in their area, chances are that they’re going to use search engines (Google).

So what can you do to leverage this? You can take the time, and improve your search engine visibility! So what can you do?

The first and easiest thing to do is to set up your Google My Business (GMB). That’s the primary way to get noticed on Google without having an actual website.

The key here is to make sure your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) is consistent across all your platforms, be it social media, TripAdvisor, Yelp, or your website.

This gives Google confidence that you are a real restaurant that is located at this location! Also, make sure that you list the type of cuisine as well as post photos of your food, interior, and menu.

If possible, get your satisfied customers to leave good reviews along with a few photos. Restaurants with more amount of positive reviews and customer photos do better than their competitors on Google.

On top of this, you can also register your restaurant on local restaurant business directories to give Google more trust!

Just by doing these simple things, you could see growth, easily attract more people, and boost your restaurant revenue, without spending a single dime on restaurant marketing!

If you’re interested in learning more about this, check out our full guide on Restaurant SEO to get started.

Sign Up for Multiple Delivery Platforms or Have Your Own!

If you look at data from McKinsey, the global food delivery market was worth $150 billion in 2021, tripling when compared to 2017.

This means that more and more people are opting to have food delivered to their doorsteps than ever before, which means there might be fewer people walking into your restaurant.

To stay ahead, your restaurant should have a robust delivery procedure in place to take as many orders as you can.
Similar to SEO, there are ways to show up more frequently and rank higher on platforms like UberEats – you can check out a neat guide by UberEats themselves to learn more!

Despite the allure, these platforms come with their problems like massive commissions. Many of the mainstream delivery platforms charge you as much as 30% of the total order value.

You can see why that’s a bummer, as many small and local business owners find it hard to afford to pay the commission and stay afloat.

So what can you do to leverage the online delivery craze without paying heavy commissions? Get your very own delivery platform of course!

We at KlikNRoll specialize in doing exactly that for our clients. Our platform allows your customers to click a link and place an order all with a few taps of their smartphones!

Essentially, it’s kind of like having your own delivery platform, that allows you to customize every aspect of it, to include your own brand identity instead of relying on other platforms.

Sample of KlikNRoll Delivery Platform
Our custom delivery platform allows you to make it look and feel however you want!

The best part? You can have your delivery platform to be linked to your loyalty program, and special freebies or discounts to loyal customers – just like what we talked about earlier! Have it integrated with your POS system as well? Done.

One of our most prominent clients, Gold Coast Hotel (based in Hong Kong), utilized this feature to have mooncakes (delicious Chinese pastries) delivered to their customer’s doorstep, without any hassle!

We have a solution for you, regardless of your business size! So if you’re interested in having your own delivery platform, click the button below and contact us, we’ll see what we can do – no strings attached!

Social Media Marketing is Amazing Even Without Ads

Going along a similar route to SEO, you can also get free exposure by leveraging social media marketing on platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram!

We know what you’re thinking – Isn’t TikTok a platform where people dance around with obnoxious music? Well, the answer to your question is yes – but not quite!

You see, by posting engaging and entertaining content on TikTok, restaurants can see a huge boost of organic exposure without spending any money on ads.

Restaurant TikTok Sample
Focus on entertainment for internet growth!

Don’t believe us? Take a look at Shelby’s Canada – a Middle-Eastern restaurant based in Ontario with almost 5 million followers across YouTube and TikTok.

Getting traction from social media platforms is not impossible. It’s not just about trying to promote your food either.

The key is to prioritize entertaining the user, whether it be creating funny storylines or maybe giving them a glimpse into your restaurant’s operations (people are naturally curious creatures!).

Here are some cool TikTok ideas for your restaurant to get started:

  • A Day in the Life of a Restaurant Owner
  • Staff’s Favourite Dishes
  • Staff Menu Design Challenge
  • Here’s How We Make Our Signature Dishes
  • Tips on How to Order at a Restaurant

Prioritizing entertainment and not just hard-selling your items will naturally garner you a following on these platforms.

You can also include a direct link to your restaurant’s booking interface or delivery platform to turn engagement into potential customers.

The key is to shorten the process as much as possible.

Our booking system allows your customers to order to book a reservation in one click, and it doesn’t involve them trying to download any app. One-click and they’re ready to order to reserve a spot!

Consider Unlimited/Free-Flow Low Margin Menu Items

Sample of a free flow menu item
A good loss leader strategy could attract more visitors organically.

If you’re familiar with Costco, you might’ve heard of their $1.50 hotdogs. You might be wondering, how are they making any money from those prices in this day and age?

Well, they don’t, at least not directly. They use the loss leader concept to attract customers and once they’re in, customers usually spend more on other more profitable items.

You can use a similar strategy for your restaurant. You can have an unlimited menu item to lure customers in, especially during off-peak hours.

The most important thing is to make sure that the item doesn’t cost you much to make, in terms of cost and manpower.

That way, you won’t make too much of a loss with this strategy, while also attracting customers!

Here are some low-cost menu items you can consider:

  • Fries
  • Soda
  • Garlic Bread
  • Breadsticks

Most people who walk in as a result of your loss leader will probably order other items, as they feel like they’re getting a good deal!


As you can see, you don’t need to necessarily spend money on marketing to increase your restaurant sales! Remember, retaining customers will almost always be cheaper than trying to get new ones.

Returning customers are more likely to be loyal, and they’re the ones who will help you get more customers organically.

If you’re interested in a loyalty program or maybe your very own delivery platform, don’t forget to contact us using the button below!

Last Updated by December 27, 2023
You might also enjoy