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Average Check Size: 12 Proven Tips to Increase Restaurant Revenue

American diners are tightening their purse strings, and this slower cash flow can negatively impact QSRs’ profit margins. But there is no way your QSR can cut any slack – labor and operating costs are already maxed out, and California’s upcoming Minimum Wage Bill will only add fuel to this fire. 

The market is challenging. 55% of diners say they now select cheaper items on the menu, and 45% of adults are eating out less at fast food restaurants. So, how can you break this cycle of tentative spending and ensure your QSR still brings home the bacon?

Understanding Average Check Size

The average check size is the average amount each customer spends at your QSR. It’s really useful for sales forecasting, creating an action plan to increase revenue, and identifying where you might be losing money. There is no magic number – it will vary depending on your business and customers. To get a ballpark target figure, look at the average check size of competitor restaurants in your area. 

The Formula for Calculating the Average Check Size

Average check size = Total sales revenue / Total number of customers

For example, if you make $5,000 in one day and serve 85 guests, the average check size is $58.82. This metric can be a guiding light to helping you achieve a higher average check size of $65. 

You can calculate the average check size over a certain period, such as three weeks or a whole year. 

12 Ways to Improve Average Check Size

No one said that improving your average check size is easy, but it’s certainly achievable using these twelve tips.

1. Understand Your Customers 

The first step is understanding what customers really want. This information is invaluable for deciphering their spending habits and identifying effective strategies for boosting the average check size. 

For example, do they spend more during certain times of the day or year? What is their preferred method of ordering? Invest time into gathering and implementing customer feedback, and you’ll reap the benefits of higher checks.

If you’re looking to get started as soon as possible with this, keep track of what customers are currently ordering and what’s selling out, and highlight any patterns you notice.


2. Train Employees to Upsell

The goal of upselling is to increase the average check size by identifying subtle ways to upgrade the diner’s purchase. Training staff in sales best practices, confidence, and building their menu knowledge helps engrain upselling techniques into their day-to-day activities. You can check in with your servers during weekly meetings to identify areas of improvement or knowledge gaps.

If your employees are reluctant to upsell due to nerves or busyness, you can delegate this job to technology instead. 

For example, Hi Auto’s conversational AI solution attempts an upsell 76% of the time (compared to employees’ 4%), resulting in an awesome average ticket increase of 10%.

3. Implement a Loyalty Program

43% of customers said a loyalty program or points would convince them to eat out more often. There are a few different types of loyalty programs, including:

  • Tiered: Rewards are split into different levels. 
  • Subscription-based: Customers pay a subscription and enjoy benefits as part of the scheme. 
  • Points-based: Customers collect points with every purchase and redeem them for perks. 

Loyalty programs are effective for boosting customer retention and increasing brand recognition, which is a win-win for improving your average check size while attracting more diners at the same time. 

4. Offer Combo Meals or Bundles

54% of diners say promotional deals would convince them to eat out more frequently. 

Combo meals and bundles encourage your customers to level up their meals instead of ordering one or two items, therefore increasing the average check size. 

Good cross-sell and upsell opportunities include family discounts, ‘fries included,’ and online-only bundle options. 

5. Change the Layout of the Current Menu

74% of customers say an effective menu display is the most important factor when selecting a QSR to visit. 

You can engineer your menu by replacing well-thumbed paper with digital menu boards, enabling you to customize them on the fly with promotions and graphics. 

Think big and bold: Choose large LED screens in strategic positions to catch diners’ eyes. Tactics like logical item grouping, color psychology, and visual aids like photography help with subtle upselling to increase ticket value.

Digital menu boards

6. Offer Seasonal or Daily Specials

Seasonal and daily specials keep your menu fresh and exciting, and you can easily integrate these offers with other marketing strategies.

Launching special menu items through cross-brand partnerships can hugely benefit brand awareness by expanding your reach to new audiences. For example, you could offer double loyalty points when customers purchase specific items from your Christmas specials. Promoting limited edition items creates a sense of urgency to buy, which is positive for your average check size.

7. Boost Your Online Presence

40% of customers prefer to place delivery and takeout orders via mobile app from the comfort of their own home, and online ordering now accounts for roughly 40% of all restaurant sales. 

With online ordering, you can offer a contactless and seamless customer experience while promoting high-margin items based on data from their in-app behavioral preferences.

8. Enhance the Ambiance and Atmosphere

A unique restaurant experience goes a long way, such as offering vegan alternatives or an ultra-modern customer experience using conversational AI at the drive-thru. 

But don’t forget the basics: keeping your QSR clean and tidy is non-negotiable for the atmosphere, and don’t underestimate the value of a great table layout and a well-designed floor plan. These simple tips will make customers want to stay longer – and buy more.

9. Increase Prices

Price anchoring is a strategy to help you squeeze extra pennies into each check. It involves increasing prices incrementally and starting with the cheapest items first. Therefore, they’ll still look a lot more affordable compared to high-priced items, and customers will feel like they’re getting bang for their buck.

10. Implement Tech Solutions

79% of diners say they will likely return to a restaurant that uses automated voice systems at the drive-thru, and an enormous 146 million US customers used voice assistant technology in 2023. 

Food production robots and contactless payments are also staple features in modern QSRs. Automation technology takes the strain off your employees’ workloads – a critical benefit in light of rising costs and labor shortages, both of which can take a slice out of your average check size.



11. Stand Out via Social Media Marketing

41% of diners use social media to decide whether to visit a restaurant, as the Internet is a hub for customer reviews and recommendations. 

Every click, like, and share makes a difference in building a positive reputation for your QSR, cultivating your brand’s personality, and helping you attract more business. 

You can also harness the power of influencer marketing to encourage user-generated content (UCG). Set up a guest feedback system and ask customers to share photos and videos of their dining experiences online in exchange for perks.

12. Integrate Geofence Location Capture

Geofencing creates a digital boundary around your QSR. When customers’ mobile devices enter this virtual parameter, you can send them automated marketing messages to tempt them in and get more revenue. 

For example: ‘The best fried chicken in the city is only fifteen meters away. Stop by and get a large drink for only $1 – hurry, the offer ends at 5PM today’.

How Automation Can Increase Your Restaurant Revenue

While operational and labor cost hikes will undoubtedly create headwinds for QSRs in the near future, automation technology provides significant support to ease the pressures.

A one-time investment in automation technology, such as food preparation robots or conversational AI, provides a workforce that performs 24/7. 

Hi Auto prioritizes upsell opportunities to increase the average check size, and it always maintains consistently high-quality service to ensure you serve as many customers as possible through your lanes. 

Learn more about upgrading your drive-thru experience today.

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