You’re incredible. Your restaurant business is intact post-pandemic. You’ve proven your mettle and shown resourcefulness and shrewd business acumen. Which is probably why you’re here!
Rising costs and a slowed economy might make other entrepreneurs stick their heads in the sand, but you’re different. You know you need to be proactive and progressive to increase restaurant sales and keep business booming.
We’ll show you how to set up your WordPress website to directly receive orders without a third-party platform, and regain full control of your online orders.
We’ll also help you unlock the incredible potential your online presence and community hold for your business.
Read on to find out how to make the most of your WordPress website, and cash in on the membership movement that’s taking the restaurant industry by storm.
The Tools You’ll Need
If your website is just a place to publish your menu and provide contact information for bookings, you’ve got a bit of catching up to do. But that’s ok.
It just takes a few plugins and integrations to transform your WordPress website into a powerful sales tool and compete with big chains.
Best of all it’s super easy with a little inside information. You don’t need a bunch of technical skills to pull this off.
WordPress and MemberPress have made it easy to get non-techies to run their business online. No programming necessary.
Here are the tools you need:
- WordPress: The most popular content management system (CMS) powering approximately 810 million websites.
- MemberPress: The #1 monetization and membership plugin for WordPress.
- WPCafe: A tool for managing online orders and reservations.
- WooCommerce: An ecommerce WordPress plugin for small-to-medium-sized businesses.
- Easy Affiliate: The “all-in-one” affiliate program plugin for WordPress
How to Increase Restaurant Sales With WordPress
Step 1: Choose a WordPress Host and Theme
If you haven’t already got a WordPress website (sorry, but popular builders like Wix and SquareSpace won’t have all the necessary features) you first need to pick a host.
BlueHost is one of the best for beginners. It offers free domain registration, a reasonable $2.95/month hosting fee, and excellent security add-ons.
Once you’ve registered your domain, you’ll need to pick a WordPress theme for your restaurant.
Divi is one of the most popular and most user-friendly WordPress themes for non-developers. Its visual page builder allows you to easily create original websites with zero coding.
Step 2: Install the MemberPress Plugin
MemberPress is the most popular WordPress membership and monetization plugin for a reason. Its ever-growing library of add-ons and integrations makes it highly customizable, so you can create the ideal membership program for your patrons.
With MemberPress, you can:
- tap into a growing trend in the restaurant industry of subscription services with recurring monthly or yearly fees,
- increase restaurant sales through loyalty incentives or members-only discounts for regular diners,
- and create a community of valued customers.
It’s not just big chains taking advantage of subscription services. Later on, we’ll go into more detail on how restaurants of all sizes are leveraging their websites to create innovative membership programs.
Step 3: Add WPCafe and WooCommerce Plugins
WPCafe is your ticket out of hosted platforms like GrubHub, DoorDash, and Uber Eats.
You’ve worked hard to develop a great menu, provide excellent service, and build your customer base. Why, then, should third-party platforms charge extortionate fees and commission rates?
DoorDash charges a whopping 30% for its full built-in marketing plan. But even if you opt out of their marketing and pay their 15% delivery fee, your business is still being marketed alongside your competitors.
So you could send your customers to these third-party apps. But who’s to say you won’t lose out to your competitors who are paying for prioritized marketing?
What’s more, you’re at the mercy of these platforms’ changing terms and conditions.
WPCafe is a WordPress plugin for accepting and managing online orders and booking reservations straight from your website.
With WPCafe it’s easy to upload your menu, set your operating hours, number of available reservations, cancellation policies, and more.
WPCafe requires WooCommerce to manage menu items as Products.
With WPCafe and WooCommerce, you can retain full independence and control over your operations at just a fraction of the cost of hosted platforms.
WooCommerce charges just 2.0% + $0.30 USD per transaction for a US-issued credit or debit card.
WPCafe charges a yearly fee of $59 or a lifetime fee of $149… for life. That’s it!
Step 4: Upload Your Menu
Now it’s time to upload your menu items.
In WooCommerce, under Products, upload descriptions, add categories and tags such as starter, main, soft drink, cocktail, gluten-free, vegetarian, etc.
You also have the option to upload images of your dishes so people can see what they’re ordering.
Step 5: Build Customer Loyalty with a Membership Program
Now you have all you need to run your restaurant online without a third-party platform, it’s time to get creative and think of ways to build customer loyalty.
Here’s a happy statistic: a 5% increase in customer loyalty generates more than a 25% increase in profit.
It pays to keep your existing patrons coming back.
But customer loyalty is in crisis.
Rising costs are impacting how customers feel about their favorite brands.
Here are some not-so-happy stats: Almost a third (30%) of customers say price increases affect their trust in brands, while 22% say their loyalty is declining.
Businesses need to find ways to create value (or at least perceived value) for their valued customers. And membership programs are just the ticket.
Through a membership program, you can incentivize repeat business with exclusive offers and online content. You can also use your new platform to upsell and cross-sell food and drink.
Stick around for tips and examples of successful membership programs.
Creating a membership program is also an opportunity to generate a recurring revenue stream.
Rather than relying on one-off sales, you can set up a subscription model where customers pay monthly or annual fees. In exchange, they get access to special offers, special treatment, and/or exclusive access to paywalled content.
This kind of setup provides predictable and reliable income – which just makes budgeting and forecasting a whole lot easier.
Plus, if you offer different tiers of membership, customers can upgrade their packages as they become more engaged with your restaurant.
All of this is possible and made easy with MemberPress.
Step 6: Drive the Snowball Effect With Easy Affiliate
In the restaurant industry, improving customer loyalty has a secondary effect that increases overall sales: it brings more customers in!
Eating out is a social activity. That’s what makes restaurants different to, say, retail stores. People want to find a great place to eat and then share the experience with their friends, family, or partner.
That’s why customer loyalty is particularly important in the restaurant industry; Keep your customers coming back, and they’ll bring more and more people with them. Keep their guests coming back, and they’ll bring more people with them.
Well look at that, you have what’s called a snowball effect!
Membership programs can further drive this snowball effect. Offer rewards for bringing friends or family members to your restaurants and encourage them to sign up for the membership program, too.
That way, you’re not only keeping your regulars coming back, but you’re also driving new customers through the door.
An affiliate program is where people get rewarded for sharing your business with others. Each “affiliate” is given a unique link to your website. If someone makes a purchase or signs up for membership using their link, you can reward them!
With Easy Affiliate, you can reward your members for successfully inviting their friends and family to become members. Here’s how you do it.
- Add the Easy Affiliate plugin to your WordPress dashboard
- In the WordPress dashboard, navigate to Easy Affiliate > Settings.
- Select the Affiliates tab.
- Where it says Registration Type at the top, select Private.
- Turn on Auto-Add Affiliates so new members are automatically sent an affiliate link to your website.
- Head to the Advanced tab.
- Edit the Welcome Email to explain how everything works to your members.
- You can also select and edit the Send Affiliate Sale Email to automatically send an email with, for example, a voucher reward each time someone signs up using their code.
NOTE: Easy Affiliate is designed to reward affiliates with a monetary commission on each sale from their unique link. If you’d prefer to offer vouchers they can use in your restaurant, make sure you amend the settings and Ts&Cs to reflect this.
Ideas to Reward Members and Increase Restaurant Sales
Incentivize Frequent Diners With Special Offers
Remember, by keeping loyal customers sweet, you’re saving money in the long run.
Discount high markup menu items
If you’re nervous about squeezing your already tight margins, offer discounts on menu items with high markups such as drinks and appetizers.
Set minimum orders
You can also set a minimum-order rule (e.g. free drinks when you spend $X on your main) to make sure you’re still benefiting from the offer.
Do a members-only happy hour
Or you could run members-only happy hour specials to drive sales in slower periods. Whatever makes the most sense for your business while still driving up perceived value for your customers.
Get Strategic to Increase Order Size
Having a restaurant membership program can provide plenty of opportunities to increase sales and up-sell or cross-sell items.
It’s time to get strategic.
Think about how you can leverage promotions on your membership program to drive patrons to boost their spending.
One common way is to use package or combo deals. A patron who usually only orders a main and a soft drink worth $20 might be tempted by a combo deal with wine and dessert worth $28.
You can use data from existing customer purchases to target offers based on what they’ve already bought.
For example, if a patron typically orders the same dish when they visit you, offer them a discount on a wine that pairs well with the meal. Or offer a deal on a higher-priced meal with a similar taste profile.
You might just develop a new favorite, more expensive order that they’ll keep coming back to.
Create an Exclusive Online Hub
A membership program isn’t just about discounts and offers. It can also be a place where your customers feel valued and part of an exclusive community.
Create an online hub for members to connect, share recipes, and get access to exclusive content relating to your business. Make sure there are plenty of interesting content and activities that keep them coming back.
Why not add discussion forums right into your website? The bbPress integration for MemberPress makes it easy to do just that!
The installation setup process is quick and simple, and bbPress provides you with a unified admin area where you can easily manage and moderate forums.
The more your customers get out of their membership, the longer they’ll stick around and keep using your restaurant. It’s a win-win for both parties.
5 Examples of Membership Programs to Increase Restaurant Sales
1. Frequent Diner Membership
With this membership model, diners pay for carte blanche access to discounts and deals. The more diners eat at your restaurant, the more they maximize their savings, and the more business you get from them – everyone wins!
Using MemberPress, Waverly Stone runs its “Stone Club” rewards program. Club members get food and drink discounts, bigger draft pours, early access to events, and more.
The membership program is so popular, there’s a waitlist for when it re-opens this fall!
At St. Louis restaurant Blood & Sand, members pay $15 for access to a wide range of discounts.
- 20% off their bill
- 30% wine to-go
- Complimentary sparkling wine and appetizer
- New member sign-up bonus
- Preferential table assignment
- Guaranteed midweek bookings
- Complimentary cocktails on every 10th visit
2. Drink Clubs
With their high markup, relatively low cost, and high perceived value, drinks are a great option for membership deals and offers.
Offer them discounted drinks, and guess where they’re choosing to eat out? At your joint, of course.
Here are 3 examples of companies that center their membership programs around drinks:
Cooper’s Hawk restaurant offers monthly membership to their wine club.
Members get to take home 1-3 bottles of the restaurant’s “wine of the month” accompanied by tasting notes and pairing recipes.
They can choose between red, white, sweet, or variety wine clubs depending on their taste preference. They can either enjoy the wine in-house with their meals or have them delivered.
Members also get access to a range of other offers such as a $15 birthday reward, 10% off carryout and catering, and discounts on wine-tasting events.
Cooper’s Hawk also offers gift membership! A great option for wine lovers and corporate gifts. It’s a great avenue to increase restaurant sales and introduce more customers to their business.
East Village’s first dog-friendly café offers a monthly coffee subscription.
Members get 8 beverages a month (which would normally cost up to $40) for $25.
This membership program works particularly well with small, independent businesses with a solid community, like B&H’s dog-loving patrons.
Panera rolled out an $8.99/month unlimited coffee subscription back in February 2020 to huge success. By July of the same year, loyalty membership had eclipsed 40 million.
Three years on, Panera has extended its offer to include a range of other hot and cold beverages.
In an interview with Fast Casual, Panera’s chief brand and concept officer, Eduardo Luz, explains the success of the free beverage model:
“Subscription services are table stakes in many other industries, and coffee was a product we saw fitting into that model to create a more convenient and cost-effective option […] and providing us a recurring revenue stream.”
3. Exclusive, VIP Experience
With this model, members pay a premium to feel extra special. This isn’t about creating value for your members, so much as giving them an all-out, luxury, VIP experience.
In London, Gaucho Steakhouse and M restaurants have partnered the create M Den, a private membership community with exclusive offers and invitations.
Their annual all-venue membership costs £1000 (about $1240) and includes VIP offers such as:
- An invitation to the “M is for Monaco” Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend event.
- A personalized bottle of a premium spirit of their choice.
- Exclusive Members Lounge access for events once a year.
- Guaranteed restaurant bookings and a VIP phone line.
- Unrestricted Members Lounge access for up to 5 guests.
- Four tickets to attend VIP events with sports celebrities.
- Monthly networking parties.
- Full concierge service for travel, accommodation, and events.
Members also get access to The Portal – an online hub with details of upcoming events and extra benefits.
4. Community-Supported Restaurant Memberships (CSR)
This is a great option for restaurants in need of capital upfront. The principle is along the same lines of GoFundMe or Kickstarter, but for restaurants.
Patrons pay an upfront sum to redeem the same amount (or more) in food and services over time.
You benefit from an immediate injection of capital to help fund things like refurbishments or expansions, and your patrons benefit from greater returns.
Austin-based Lenoir restaurant offers patrons the opportunity to become part of their CSR.
They have 3 tiers of investment:
- $1000 gets you $1200 on their house account.
- $2000 gets you $2500 on their house account.
- $5,000 gets you a $3,000 house account; a private, 5-course all-inclusive dinner for 8 people at your home or in their dining space ($3,000 value); 2 complimentary knife sharpenings, first access to events, and priority reservations.
5. Content Hub Membership
If your restaurant has solid branding and strong, authentic roots to its cuisine, you have the perfect recipe to create an engaging online content hub for members.
Create behind-the-scenes videos sharing recipes, cooking techniques, food stories, and pairing suggestions.
Also based in Austin, L’Oca d’Oro is an award-winning restaurant with a strong connection and branding around its Italian cuisine.
They offer 2 subscription types through their website. Food lovers will opt for Fiore’s Regional Pasta Club, priced at $90/month, while aspiring sommeliers will go for the Wine Share Club at $65/month.
Each month, members of the Pasta Club not only receive ingredients and pantry essentials, but they also get to immerse themselves in Italian culture.
Members join Chef Fiore Tedesco as he tours the cities and countries that inspired his dishes, sharing stories and recipes along the way.
L’Oca d’Oro combines subscription deals and online content for a unique exclusive experience for their members.
We hope these examples inspire you to create a membership program that rewards loyalty, brings you recurring revenue, and ultimately increases sales.
We’ve shown you how it’s done, and now it’s your turn!
Make sure you set up your website to take delivery orders so you’re not at the mercy of hosted third-party platforms. Get back your independence with WPCafe.
Then it’s time to get creative! Think strategically about which membership program type will work best for your restaurant and get that revenue pumping!
Here’s a reminder of the steps you need to take to increase restaurant sales through your website:
- Choose a WordPress host and theme.
- Install the MemberPress plugin.
- Add WPCafe and WooCommerce plugins.
- Upload your menu.
- Build customer loyalty with a membership program.
- Drive the snowball effect with Easy Affiliate.
Have you come across any interesting restaurant membership programs? Do you have any suggestions on how to increase restaurant sales with WordPress? Let us know in the comments below.