Servers are either order-takers or salespeople. Order-takers do the bare minimum to get by, while salespeople focus on making suggestions that will enhance the guest’s dining experience. They sell more and, therefore, they make more. It takes more work to be a salesperson, but it’s worth it. Most servers start out as order-takers, and purging that mentality isn’t easy. It involves breaking bad habits and molding new ones. As Mark Twain said, “You can’t just throw a habit out the window. It must be coaxed down the stairs, one step at a time.” What you reinforce is what you get and what you don’t reinforce is what you lose. To get you started, here are eight easy ways to increase restaurant sales:
Increase Restaurant Sales Today
1. Give your employees a scoreboard. Start tracking sales of each server and bartender. Measure not only their check averages (at both lunch and dinner) but also the number of appetizers, sides, desserts, wine, soup, etc. they sell during each shift. What gets measured gets done.
2. Post the check averages where all the servers can see them, in order, from highest to lowest. Include each server’s “Personal Best” highest check in parentheses next to overall average.
3. After tracking your sales, design and post bar graphs that measure the individual appetizer, dessert, wine, etc. sales of each server. This will make it easier to compare progress
4. Schedule “sales” meetings at least six times a year with your entire service staff in which service and sales-oriented topics are discussed. Use these meetings as a forum to improve product knowledge, service skills and sales skills.
5. Stop referring to your staff as waiters, waitresses and bartenders, and start calling them salespeople.
6. Hold daily pre-shift team meetings in which you give every server and bartender specific sales and service goals for that shift. (Manager: “Frank, how many desserts and appetizers are you going to sell today?” Frank: “Five appetizers and three desserts.” Manager: “Great! Don’t forget to learn three new guests’ names as well.”)
7. Follow up during the floor shift to make sure that each server is attempting to achieve and exceed these goals. Coach them along as you check their progress. (“Just one more dessert, Frank! You’ve got two tables finishing up their entrees so you’ve got a great opportunity here. Now what are you going to say to those guests to make that sale?”)
8. HAVE FUN! Remember, he who laughs, lasts!
Want more ideas to increase restaurant sales? Check out the best-selling Service That Sells! book, and finish reading the excerpt above. Originally published in the 90s, the book has been updated to address challenges faced by today’s restaurant managers.