3 No Cost Secrets to Increase Your Average Order Value

publication date: Apr 25, 2024
author/source: David "Rev" Ciancio



What are the items on your menu that when a guest adds them to their order, it increases their ticket size above your average order value?

In the State of Independent Restaurants report published by Nation's Restaurant News and Unilever, it identified that growing top line sales is "non-negotiable" and that consumers have less to spend. This means maximizing every guest visit / purchase is crucial for running a healthy restaurant of any size.

Seeing as how new guest acquisition is the most expensive part of the guest sales funnel and 70% of guests only ever dine at a restaurant once, profitability on that one meal is critical.

"Would you like fries with that?" is not going to cut it anymore. Now we need to aim for "would you like fries, a milkshake, a baseball cap, a soda for later and catering for your office as well?"

And oh yeah, are you in our rewards program?

Let's get into tactics on increasing check average or average order value (AOV), whichever you prefer.

Back to the question: which menu items boost your AOV? Oftentimes these are also items that have your best margins.

At Handcraft Burgers and Brew I know that it's our loaded tater tots. When people order them, they order them in addition to, not in place of, an entrée or side. Essentially, it's our Burger shop version of an appetizer or share plate.

That is why we promote them everywhere we possibly can to entice people to order them. They're also super delicious and we get rave feedback over them.

  • Higher check average
  • Higher profitably
  • Happy guests

Sounds like a win!!!

For the sake of this discussion, let's call these items "check boosters."

Here are three ways to increase your average order value:


Take a quick look at Five Guys' Instagram account.

What do you not see? Burgers. Why? They know you already think of them as a place to get Burgers, and chances are if you walk in the door, you are getting a Burger. Burgers don't really need help with their sales at the Guys that are Five.

What you see is Fries, Milk Shakes, Free Peanuts and people having a great time.

Follow this content marketing rule of thumb: 20% of your marketing is what you are known for, 80% is what you want to be known for.


This one is easy. Want to sell more check boosters? Put them where guests can see them.

Check out any restaurant on any third-party marketplace (but please don't place an order! Do that directly on the restaurant's website!)

What do you see at the top? Faves, most popular, most loved, etc.

We ran a test at Handcraft Burgers & Brew. We put our most popular items, the ones that sell the most, in that section. After 30 days we saw wild increases of items that were already our top sellers.

By example, our number one seller on the menu is Fresh Cut French Fries. Makes sense, everyone adds them to nearly every order. In fact, they outsell our most popular Burger by a ratio of 4:1.

By adding them to the "most loved" section on our online ordering, we increased sales of the item by 19%. And our most popular Burger, we increased the sales by 40%!! That's insane.

If you want to sell more check boosters, put them at the top of your online menu. Highlight them on your printed menu.

This is really just a version of the next tactic ...


Would you like to try one of our [CHECK BOOSTERS]?

You have to have our [INSERT DESSERT NAME HERE]!

May I suggest a plate of [INSERT SHAREABLE APPS HERE]

Would you like another drink from the bar?

If you want to sell more check boosters, you have to suggest them to your guests. Maybe they didn't know you had them. Maybe they forgot. Maybe they were gonna order them anyway and talked themselves out of them but deep down inside they really wanted them and all they needed was to be pushed over the edge.

Suggestive sell at the register, at the table, on your online ordering, your kiosks ... anywhere you have a point of transaction. Be intentional about it.

Be highly intentional in your marketing and you'll see your business respond accordingly.

David Rev CiancioDavid "Rev" Ciancio is a co-owner of Handcraft Burgers & Brew and also a Brand, Customer & Technology Evangelist. Rev helps tech and software companies generate more leads, quicken the sales cycle, create memorable customer journeys, all while building fervent brand ambassadors and growing business & sales. He helps restaurants to make tech decisions and to create guest acquisition and retention marketing that works. Get more marketing tips from Rev at #revsmarketingtips. If you ever have questions about restaurant marketing, just email me.