Everyone talks about working smarter, instead of harder, but in the restaurant industry many of those productivity tips fly out the window when you’ve got a 10-top in the back and a line out the front door. What’s a manager to do – what’s a server to do – except keep moving… and apologizing? Instead of focusing on the work, focus on the sales. Without the right training , busy shifts can cause servers to work harder, but make less. Sales training — combined with a different management perspective, can help increase sales and productivity. Take a look at these ideas to get you started:

Schedule More Servers

Your servers are already grumbling just at the idea of getting less tables (and tips), but what if they could make the same amount of money with less tables? What if that meant less work, less stress and more profit? When you train your team how to suggestively selland you chart the results – you’ll prove that less can be more. Implementing sales strategies in every interaction with a customer will generate more sales over time, but servers may not realize that their techniques are working, if they don’t see the bottom line. Track sales for each server. Add up appetizers, specialty drinks, desserts and add-ons and show the total sales for those items each month. Then, figure out 20 percent of that cost. When servers see those totals, they’ll realize that sales strategies do work and if they’re consistent in delivering them (especially when they have the time to do so), they’ll make more money with less guests.

Motivate the Entire Staff

Think of ways to involve every department when setting up sales contests and incentives. If you’re creating incentives and prizes for the waitstaff to sell more, remember that your kitchen staff may be thinking, “Why should I bust my butt when they win all the prizes?” Take an appetizers sales contest, for example. Prep cooks can be rewarded for zero mistakes in making the appetizers, the kitchen crew for consistently getting them out under five minutes or for any shift during which 60 or more are sold, and hosts, hostesses and servers for the total number sold.

Cut the Marketing Budget

Are you delivering what you’re advertising? Good marketing kills bad businesses all the time, but training makes a team great. Turn servers into sales professionals and your entire team into a real support staff and you’ll find that word-of-mouth and return customers will more than compensate for new customers who only visit your operation once.