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Getting the most out of your menu

In the restaurant business, known for razor-thin profit margins, every little bit of additional revenue helps keep an operation in the black.

Fortunately, to drive higher sales and profits, operators usually don’t have to radically overhaul menus and operational procedures. In most cases, increasing profitability only requires making your current menu work harder and getting the most out of the products already in place.

That’s why suggestive selling of add-on items such as appetizers, side dishes, desserts and beverages like iced tea—which almost all operators sell already—is so important. Coaching the servers to make simple, sincere statements to guests such as such as, “Would you like to try our new burger special today?” or “We have a great new cheesecake that you might like” or “May I bring you a pitcher of fresh-brewed Lipton® Iced Tea?” can lead to greater guest satisfaction and higher check averages.

However, striking the right tone is important in suggestive selling. Servers shouldn’t be shy about suggesting iced tea, appetizers, desserts and other add-ons in a friendly and positive way. Remind them that the pleasure and satisfaction of the guest is their responsibility. Additionally, mentioning special menu items and offers at the table improves the dining experience for guests and can generate higher tips as well as higher sales and repeat business.

The beverage menu is particularly fertile ground for add-on sales because the majority of guests have a beverage of some sort. One of the best approaches is schooling servers to recommend premium-brand, fresh-brewed iced tea, which can both satisfy guests and reduce the incidence of glasses of water given away free of charge, which are totally unprofitable. Research has shown that guests have a clear preference for iced tea that is fresh brewed rather than made from concentrate1, and great-tasting, fresh brewed iced tea sells again and again.

And as many operators well know, premium, fresh-brewed iced tea is the most profitable non-alcoholic beverage around. Selling just a few more glasses per day can flow thousands of extra dollars to the bottom line each year. Additionally, offering premium-brand, fresh-brewed iced tea by the pitcher is a great way to boost volume and profits. Guests enjoy sharing a pitcher at the table and conveniently refilling their own glasses.

Actually, the vast popularity of iced tea makes deciding to promote it a no-brainer. In 2012, Americans consumed more than 79 billion servings—or over 3.6 billion gallons—of tea, about 85 percent of it iced, according to the Tea Association of The USA.

To add further momentum to your iced tea program, operators can leverage the customization trend. Make iced tea even more appealing to guests by offering it with options—unsweetened or sweetened—and with a dash of flavored syrup, sliced fruit or a choice of enhancements at the table, such as sugar or sweetener. Another promising avenue is flavoring signature specialty drinks with tea—both creative cocktails at the bar and alcohol-free mocktails.

Operators who offer guests Lipton® Fresh Brewed Iced Tea—a product that generations of consumers have grown up with— have an advantage right off the bat. According to research by InnoQuest, Lipton® is the brand preferred 2-to-1 by restaurant patrons2, and more than half of iced tea drinkers are more likely to visit a restaurant that serves Lipton®.3 In fact, consumers are willing to pay up to $0.65 per glass more if the iced tea is Lipton®, according to research by the NPD Group.4 The bottom line is, Say It’s Lipton®, Sell More Tea.

To start making the most out of your menu, check out these special offers from Lipton®.


1 Technomic Consumer Iced Tea Segmentation Study, December 2009
2 Based on the question: How likely are you to order Lipton® Iced Tea if it was available at restaurants near you?” Ipsos InnoQuest, August 2012
3 Consumers responding to the question: “When out at a restaurant, which brand of iced tea do you prefer?” Ipsos InnoQuest, August 2012
4 The NPD Group, Lipton® Iced Tea Brand Study, June 2010

This post is sponsored by Lipton®

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