- Susie Ross
Do you want your restaurant to be people's favorite place to enjoy dinner? Is your food consistently good? Is your waitstaff truly interested in providing your guests' best dining experience? How many times have you heard a server say, "I'm going to take table five's order now... be right back." The answer is "every day," of course. They are so used to just taking an order, they don't realize how much power they really have. With just a few suggestions, a server can turn a $20 tab into a $35 ticket.
Change the way your staffers approach their duties as servers. Help them understand that they are independent salespeople who have total control over their income. Done the right way, the server not only comes away with a higher tip, but more importantly to the business of your restaurant, customers leave feeling like they have been truly cared for and offered a premium dining experience.
Teach your servers to try these top suggestive selling methods:
- Suggest a cocktail or wine before the guest asks. Doing so says, "Welcome, and I know you are here to relax."
- When taking drink orders, suggest top shelf alcohol, indicating that you assume your guest has taste.
- Direct patrons toward favorite appetizers without selling them. Again, this reinforces your recognition that their eating out is special, as we don't often serve appetizers in our own kitchens at home.
- Ask guests what they like. This simple question establishes that you are not an "order taker." It says that you care enough to make this a two-way conversation.
- Suggest sides to accompany entrees without "selling" them. For example, "You know what's really good with that burger? A side of our homemade chili and some red onion! It's to die for!"
- Propose a bottle of wine instead of a glass by pointing out that if two guests are going to have more than one glass of wine, it's more economical to get a bottle. You've just told your guests that you care about their budget and you're not out to fleece them.
- Recommend a specific dessert and offer two forks so people can split it if they give you the "I'm full" look. Or offer to box up a dessert to take home for later.
Guests will, more often than not, tip a server much more when they have been guided through their dining experience. As guests, we want to feel like our server has earned the gratuity. If he or she has directed us through the sometimes arduous journey of a menu, found out our likes and dislikes and reacted accordingly, we feel good about leaving a bigger tip, knowing that our knowledgeable and caring server deserves it.
Done in a warm, welcoming manner, suggestive selling creates loyal patrons. With so many dining options, why wouldn't you go to a place that truly takes care of you?—
Susie Ross is the owner of Waiter Training. She writes a monthly newsletter on server training, retention and service and is the author of four books and manuals, including A Waiters Training: The Ultimate Guide to Better Service, Tips and Steady Employment and restaurant manuals for hosts, servers and buspeople. Ross can be reached at 720-203-4615 or email@example.com