Menu + Food

Raising Restaurant Prices: When and How

Don’t stress over not knowing when or how to raise your restaurant prices. We have all the answers you need right here!
Amanda Hamel

Raising your restaurant prices is a tough decision. You want to make money, but you also want to keep your customer base happy and loyal. That's where we come in! Here are seven ways you can determine when it's time to raise prices:

How do you know when it's time to raise your prices?

When you're ready to raise your prices, here are some questions to ask yourself:

Are there changes in the market that could lead to an increase in demand? Maybe new competitors are entering a region or people are learning more about your restaurant's quality. Maybe they've heard good things about how you run things and want to try it out themselves. Whatever the reason, these changes can make customers spend more money on meals at restaurants like yours.

Are costs going up? If so, then it might be time for a price hike—but only if those increases aren't too much for them and don't drive away existing customers. For example, if electricity bills have gone up by 10 percent over last year and this increase makes operations difficult or impossible without spending another few thousand dollars per month on utilities alone, then maybe it makes sense from an economic standpoint to raise your prices. 

First, be aware of the market.

When it comes to raising prices, it’s important to conduct some competitor research. To find out what your competitors are charging, visit their websites and take a look at their menus. Next, research the average cost of each dish on their menu. If you're operating a restaurant that serves high-quality food with no shortcuts or gimmicks to cut corners, then it shouldn't be too difficult for you to determine what other restaurants are charging as well.

To find out what customers are willing to pay for your product (or any product), use surveys or focus groups in which people tell you how much they would be willing to pay for your product compared with similar items sold elsewhere. You can also use social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to communicate with your audience and get a good idea of their limits.

Second, be honest with yourself.

You need to be honest with yourself if you want to make the necessary changes. You need to know what your costs are, and how much you can afford to raise prices. Also, be honest about the quality of your product. Is it good enough? Is it as good as other places in town? If not, why should people pay more for it? Most importantly be honest with your guests. Whether they're regulars or new visitors, don’t be afraid to tell them the truth. Your guests will value the transparency and it will increase their trust in your brand.

Third, keep a close eye on your costs.

You should also keep a close eye on your costs. Costs can be variable or fixed, and they're important to know about.

A fixed cost remains the same no matter how much you sell. For example, rent is a fixed cost because it's paid regardless of how many people you serve in your restaurant each day—even if there are only two customers left at closing time! On the other hand, variable costs change with how much you sell. If sales go down and don't recover by Sunday afternoon (for instance), then there will be less money available for payroll taxes and utility bills later on that week.

Fourth, evaluate your menu.

Now that you have a good idea of how much your food costs, it's time to put that data into action. The first step is to evaluate your menu, which means deciding what stays and what goes.

Ask yourself:

  • How much should I keep?
  • What should I cut out?
  • What can I replace with new cost-effective items?

The second step is to evaluate how much you raise prices for each item on the menu. This will help determine whether or not customers notice the change in pricing or not.

Fifth, don't rush into raising prices.

While you may be tempted to raise prices immediately, don't do it just because you can. Instead, make sure your restaurant has a plan for communicating the change and handling any negative feedback from customers. For example:

If you're raising prices on menus or food items, make sure that all of those menus are up-to-date with current pricing (e.g., if a menu item was $3 before but now costs $5). This ensures that customers have plenty of time to find out about the price increase and get used to it before they even walk into your restaurant.

Create an email list of people who regularly order certain items at this price point and send them an email letting them know when their favorite dish has been bumped up in cost by 10 percent. Or whatever amount is appropriate given its position on your menu board or POS system. Give customers ample notice before changing anything else (like hours), so there's no way anyone can misunderstand what's happening.

Sixth, consider the effect that price changes will have on your customer behavior.

Your customers are going to be more likely to order something that's a better value for money. In this case, you can use it to your advantage if you have new items on the menu or if discounts are being offered. You could also use it as an opportunity for loyalty programs by offering rewards for frequent diners and other incentives like dollar-off coupons when someone signs up for one of these programs and makes a purchase.

Seventh, make sure you have a clear plan for raising prices and communicating that change to your customers.

You should have a plan for how you will communicate the new prices to your customers.

If it's not obvious to you that a price increase is coming, then your customer may be surprised by the change. They may also be unhappy about having to pay more money for their meal or service. To avoid this situation in either case of raising prices, make sure that all employees are trained on how to handle any negative comments from customers and what they can do if they're asked directly by a dissatisfied customer. 

Raising prices can help you increase your profits, but it's important to do it at the right time and for the right reasons.

Don’t raise prices too often. If your restaurant is doing well, it's best to keep your prices stable. The reason for this is simple. If you keep raising them, you'll lose customers and they won't be able to afford what they used to be able to afford at your restaurant before the price hike. This can lead to a loss of revenue and eventually result in bankruptcy or closure if things get bad enough!

Don't raise prices just because other restaurants have raised theirs! Many restaurants think that if a competitor has raised their meal prices then they need do so too—but this isn't necessarily true! Most likely those other restaurants were already doing well before deciding on that particular increase so there was no need for yours to rise as well. Every restaurant business is going to be different so you need to do what’s best for yours.

We hope this article has given you some insights into how and when to raise your restaurant prices. Whether or not you're ready to make the leap, we wish you the best of luck!