Vol. 9: Ask Fishbowl and 9 Tips to Increase Average Check

Email covidquestions@fishbowl.com and ask Fishbowl experts anything, tactical or strategic, about your restaurant brand’s current situation or needs.

On Monday we provided tips for one of the two levers that increase sales – growing traffic to your restaurants. Now we address the second lever, increasing average check size. Consider these tips to increase how much is spent on each order.

Get more out of bundle or family pack offerings.

  1. Use email, social media, and more to promote the purchase of more than one. Our analysis shows the following methods have been successful:
    • Buy one for yourself and another for a neighbor, friend, teacher, or essential worker.
    • Buy one for tonight and save and reheat another for later, offering the 2nd at a discount.
  2. Create bundles with flexible quantity options that can serve 4, 6 or 8 people, and price them accordingly.
  3. Offer a ‘build your own’ option that ensures spend will be higher than the base bundle promotion.
  4. Where possible, don’t forget adult beverages as an add-on item for immediate consumption or bottles (with or without a discount) to be consumed later.

Check size during lunch or snack (2 pm-5 pm) periods are typically lower than dinner.

  1. Where possible, limit your menu to items with large portions or above-average prices. Supplement by including a drink with every order to further increase spend.
  2. Offer a time-specific ‘Snack Pack’ (2 pm-5 pm) or ‘2 Desserts for $X’ after dinner.

Takeout and Delivery: Unique opportunities exist to increase the average check in each channel.

  1. Modify your delivery menu to only include larger portion sizes to help offset the delivery provider service charge, increasing your ‘net average check’.
  2. Offer a gift card with a minimum takeout purchase amount. This will raise the size of checks now, and ensure additional traffic later.
  3. Provide an incentive to pre-order a super-size bundle for a later date (Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day Weekend).

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What is Average Check?

To calculate the average check for your restaurant or chain for a period of time (specific days, specific time of day, etc.), take total sales after discounts and divide by the total number of checks. We suggest you do this for the most recent weeks, and compare it to the same days last year, or February of this year, to see how much your check has changed due to current conditions.

There are 3 ways to increase average check – increase the number of people involved in the meal occasion, increase the quantity of items on a check, or increase the average selling price of each item on the check. Strategies and tactics for growing average check usually include at least 2 of these elements, which often overlap. Check size will vary by time of day, and day of the week.