Creative Cash Cows: Innovative Ways to Diversify Your Revenue Stream

Sometimes you can't cut any more costs. What's next?

Sometimes you just can't get blood from a stone./milkos ©

There’s no single road map to making money as a business owner (unless your business is selling road maps). And while advice like “cut costs and increase revenue” is technically true, it’s also trite—and not particularly helpful when you’re working 80 hours a week because you’ve slashed spending to the bone on every straw, every vegetable, and every worker that crosses your threshold. Restaurant accounting company Restaurant Accounting Services, Inc. (RSI) has combed through its stable of clients and come up with real-life solutions for increasing revenue that are working for restaurants in Colorado and beyond. 

  • Offer subscriptions for monthly meal packages.
    • Pick a package that works for your business, but an example would be charging customers $250 per month for two meals that serve four each week. You’ll save on labor and cost of goods and services by ordering exactly—and only—what you need.  
  • Put together custom produce boxes for sale. 
    • This can also be a subscription option. You can work with a distributor to help you create and package these.  
  • Opt for QR codes instead of paper menus.
    • Going paperless eliminates the cost of menus and allows you to immediately  adjust pricing.
  •  Work with government organizations and charities to help feed communities.
    • Many clients have sold meals to fire departments and charitable organizations that their city reimbursed them for. The more involved in your community you get,  the better chance you have or receiving these types of large orders.  
  • Sponsor a school. 
    • Help kids celebrate by providing reading or achievement rewards. 
    • Contact PTAs to set up community “Dine Out For” nights, fundraisers, and spirit nights.  
    • Never underestimate the “pester power” kids have over their parents once they’re hooked on your food.
  • Consider selling PPE products if you have a reliable or excess supply.
  • Offer online cooking classes and show guests how to  prepare one of your branded dishes. 
  • Compile a collection of your best-selling recipes for sale. 
    • Restaurant owners think if they share a recipe that guests won’t come return to have it prepared for them, but that is a misconception. Most people will never precisely recreate the dish; it always tastes better from the restaurant that makes it!
  • Lean in hard on grab and go meals. 
    • This can be huge, especially if you can manage to place your meals in a local supermarket.
    • Install a grab and go display in your restaurant for increased visibility. 
  • Increase your online presence by managing your website well.
    • Digital hospitality is absolutely key. Restaurants must be able to provide the same hospitality digitally as they do in house.  
    • Your website should be SEO- and revenue-driven as well as ADA compliant. And keep it easy to use and navigate ED: Would love some more details on what online ADA compliance looks like, as well as what you mean by “revenue-driven”
    • Avoid PDF menus; they’re not searchable via Google.  
    • Online ordering is a must. Make sure you’re offering web-specific menu options that drive business directly to your site, not third-party delivery services. 
    • Keep your Google listing up to date and accurate! Make sure the order button links to your ordering page. Don’t let Grubhub or Uber Eats hijack your page!
  • Mix and sell specialty cocktail growlers (okay, maybe not a full 64 ounces, but mix up a big ol’ batch).  
  • Promote gift cards for your restaurant.  

You know your business best: Not all of these ideas will work for you, but we’re betting some will. And hopefully they’ll spur that innovation hospitality folks are known for and get your own creative juices flowing.

Sydney Lynn is the Director of Client Advisory Services with RSI. She believes the modern restaurateur must be able to exceed the guest’s expectations without losing sight of financial sustainability. During her eight years at RSI, Sydney has helped hundreds of restaurant operators across the US achieve their goals through management team coaching while providing accountability and a sense of ownership over brand equity. Her 20+ years of experience within the industry previously awarded her with the opportunity to serve as VP of Financial/Operational Audit for a private equity firm that owned and operated over 130 restaurants.

Talk to us! Tell us what’s worked for you. Email your questions (and thoughts, opinions, and experiences—anything, really) to


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