Sales of food and drink probably generate most, if not all, of your income. But there are other ways you can generate a bit of extra money by selling your services or your space outside of the usual.
Diane Chiasson, FCSI, President of Chiasson Consultants Inc., a restaurant and foodservice consultancy firm in Toronto, suggests the following ideas to make a bit of cash on the side, and gain publicity for your operation:
1. Rent out your restaurant for seminars and workshops
During your restaurant’s or foodservice operation’s downtime, consider renting out space in your dining room (or private room if you have one) for people to give seminars and workshops. Invest in a decent A/V system including flat-screen TV/monitor, or a projector and screen. With such equipment, potential speakers can easily plug in their laptops to access and show their presentations. Include snacks and refreshments in your package, and offer all workshop/seminar participants a $5 to $20 gift card to come back and try your restaurant another day.
2. Give seminars or workshops
Alternatively, you can give seminars and workshops in your restaurant, such as cooking demonstrations and lessons. It’s a great way to get locals into your establishment, let them know who you are, try your food, and meet the chef. If possible, work with a local wine distributor to get the company’s wine for free in return for some free advertising.
3. Host artist/author nights
Artists and authors are always looking for venues to exhibit their work. Many of these artists and authors tend to be extremely active on social media to promote their products and upcoming appearances. By hosting an artist/author night, you could not only generate extra income via a small percentage of the sales of the artists’ work, but you can also generate a lot of first-time visits to your operation.
4. Organize a vendor trunk show
Although trunk shows are typically held by retailers to showcase a particular product line, it’s possible to hold a trunk show in a restaurant or foodservice operation as well. For example, if you serve a particular type of cheese or sausage on your menu, have a rep from that company set up a small display area in your restaurant so your customers will learn something about the products you use, and can also buy some to take home. You could also showcase the local farm where you buy your fresh produce, or the bakery where you buy your bread and desserts, or dishware/crockery/presentation plates from your suppliers. Remember that the host always receives a percentage of the sales.
5. Sell a cookbook
Creating a book with today’s computer programs is as easy as can be. Take some good photos of your signature dishes, and write the recipes, a short history of your operation, and any other fun and interesting elements. Be sure the book and its content are in line with your branding, theme and style of your operation. And make sure each copy is autographed by either the chef or the owner, or both.
6. Sell prepackaged home-meal solutions
Help control your food costs by freezing portions of your meals and reselling them as home-meal solutions. Invest in a small refrigerated display case at the front of your operation, and ensure that you market your new line of food properly during peak buying hours.
7. Renegotiate your contracts
Generating extra income does not necessarily mean you have to sell a product or a service. You can also generate income by saving money. Take a look at all the contracts you have with your suppliers, vendors, landlord, Internet/phone provider, credit card provider, etc. Get in touch with each of these companies and try to renegotiate your contract. You might be surprised at how much you end up saving!