If you own or manage a fast-food restaurant, you already know that people positively crave what you're selling. About 40 percent of Americans devour fast food every day, and consumption goes up, not down, right along with household incomes, according to a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, there are two sides to every hamburger bun, and those facts pale in the face of the competition you likely face, perhaps directly next door or across the street. Since you're probably known for your hustle, you don't want to waste a day trying to increase your sales.

Turn Smartphone Obsession to Your Advantage

Unlike other types of retailers who continue to reel from the effects of consumers' grip on their smartphones, you can benefit from their obsession by doing all you can to improve sales from a digital perspective. Consumers show every sign of responding.

At the same time, you're also smart enough to know not to ignore your core attraction: the food you make so irresistible through its taste and convenience, whether people sit inside your restaurant to eat or cruise through a drive-thru.

This reality gives you two opportunities to increase sales: digitally and internally, enhanced by a serving of creativity on the side.

Embrace Technology

  • Polish your mobile presence: As snappy as your restaurant website may look on a tablet or desktop, ensure that it looks good, functions expertly and loads at lightning speed on a smartphone. 

  • Reserve a place on your website for customer reviews and don't panic over an occasional negative one. They're inevitable and matter less to established fast-food restaurants than fine, upscale restaurants.* Finesse your social media presence: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are good places for you to engage with customers who gravitate to fast food and social media. Strive for a mix of timely content and ads to keep more than your ingredients fresh. 

  • For many consumers, a trip to a fast-food venue is a spontaneous decision they make after scrolling through their phones.* Solidify your online ordering system and delivery strategies. Research shows that people spend more on online orders, which can bode well for your restaurant. Whether you offer delivery, work through a food-delivery service or have forged a combination of the two, research also shows that the vast majority of people who order online from a restaurant do so again.

Focus on Your Restaurant and Menu

  • Turn on the charm, big time, for first-time customers. Shake their hands. Welcome them with a smile. Check that their order is correct. Offer them a free dessert or a discount on their next visit. Research shows that they'll respond. 

  • Bring new customers to your attention by posting a welcoming sign at your door, perhaps with the promise of an incentive. Fast food becomes a habit for many people, and you want your restaurant to top customers' lists.* Instruct your staff to upsell: Heed a vital lesson from fast-food pioneer McDonald's, which built a $20 billion empire, in part, by asking customers if they wanted fries along with their burgers. Order-takers shouldn't stop there. 

  • They can nudge customers to order beverages and larger food sizes too.* Experiment with sales promotions. Small-business owners aren't keen on loyalty programs, which can be costly, and every client base is different. Part of the fun of promotions is that they're short-term in nature, so you can pull the plug on those that are lukewarm. 

If you're feeling adventurous, consider an idea that merges tech with your core strength by offering catering services, perhaps through a third-party vendor that sets up shop in rotating business office parks several times per week.

By bringing food to people, right where they work, you could put a spin on the fast-food paradigm and create a secret sauce for your small business.