How to Increase the Average Order Value at Your Restaurant

How to Increase the Average Order Value at Your Restaurant

Consumers are dining out more and more, creating a constant battle for restaurants to gain their business. With so many options out there like fast-casual, quick bites, and fine dining, everyone is trying to get their share of the wallet. Increasing the average order value at your restaurant is an obvious way to increase profits. Train your servers different tactics to push alcohol sales, small plates and add-ons. Rather than increasing your prices, increase the amount you sell – Sell more, don’t charge more!

Training servers properly is essential in increasing daily sales growth. Asking questions like the ones below can add just one extra item to the order ticket and take sales to a new level.

  • Any appetizers before your meal?
  • Could I give you recommendations for a bottle of wine to complement each of your entrees?
  • Could I interest you in curly fries with your burger?
  • Interested in topping off the evening with a delicious dessert?

Alcohol Leads to Dessert

Pushing dessert at the end of a meal is an overused tactic. Instead, focus on beverage sales. Over 75% of dessert checks have alcohol on them. However, not all drinks lead to dessert. Ordering a bottle of wine increases a customer’s chance of ordering dessert by 15%.

Red or white wine? 42% of customers who order a bottle of red wine also order dessert.

Educate your servers about your wine offerings. The more prepared and knowledgeable your servers on the the wine pairings, the better they can inform diners.

Small Plates

Your servers can offer appetizer options that complement the customer’s wine selection. Teach your servers to use language like, “While you decide on a drink, could I bring you an appetizer? I personally love our hummus plate.” This adds an air of personalization and connects your customers to their server.

If a customer orders an appetizer, they often answer “I’m stuffed!” when a server asks if they have left room for dessert. Rather than asking “Leave any room for dessert?” have your server ask, “What can I get you for dessert?” If a customer seems hesitant, propose the party shares a dessert. Training staff to be attentive and read body language assists in urging to order additional items.


Customers are savvy. They often can see through the, “Would you like to add a side of fries to your order?” tactic. Your servers can still promote the addition of sides, but another, less transparent method is pushing add-ons.

Try having servers suggest various add-ons to specific entree options. Adding avocado, extra protein to a salad, or bacon or cheese to a burger, can greatly increase the final bill total.

Add-ons can be effective because they seem like small and low-cost options to customers. Adding sautéed mushrooms for $1 versus a side of soup for $4 feels lower risk. However, these add-ons really add up in the end and create great margin!

Your servers are a key ingredient for restaurant success. Training servers to upsell and properly read their tables is an important part of increasing the average order size and daily sales. Once you’ve established credibility with customers, they are likely to return and spend more.