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With more than 647,000 food service establishments operating in the United States as of 2017, according to The NPD Group, many restaurant owners struggle to attract and retain patrons. From cafes and sandwich shops to steakhouses and fine-dining establishments, though, restaurant owners can gain the upper hand on their competitors by following these tips.

Invest in Quality Ingredients

Some restaurant owners assume that buying cheap ingredients will allow them to save money while simultaneously increasing their profits. But cheap ingredients don’t go unnoticed by patrons, and some patrons may stop visiting the establishment if it uses them in its dishes. Investing in high-quality ingredients projects a restaurant as a premium brand, encouraging patrons to return.

Keep It Clean

Cleanliness is an invaluable element when running a restaurant. No one wants to eat at an establishment with dirty floors, tables and bathrooms. Furthermore, failure to maintain a clean, hygienic environment may result in a failing score during an inspection by the local health department.

Launch a Website

Even if a restaurant doesn’t sell food or beverages online, it should still have a website. In the past, patrons used phone books to find restaurants’ phone numbers. If a patron wanted to make a reservation, for example, he or she would search for the restaurant’s phone number in the Yellow Pages. While the print version of the Yellow Pages is still in circulation, few people use it for this purpose today. Instead, they use the internet to find restaurants. Launching a website allows restaurants to reach the largest number of patrons.

Add Menu to Website

A website is the perfect medium on which a restaurant can display its menu. When choosing a place to eat, many patrons will search for menus online. It allows them to see the establishment’s offerings and prices before visiting.

Accept a Variety of Payments

Statistics show that roughly half of U.S. consumers don’t carry cash. If a restaurant only accepts cash, these card-carrying patrons may choose a different food service establishment. Therefore, restaurants should accept a variety of payments, including cash, credit card, debit card and mobile payments.

The stiff competition of the food service industry can be daunting for first-time restaurant owners. To gain an advantage in this industry, restaurant owners should follow these essential tips.