You can train servers to take orders or you can motivate them to increase sales. When you decide that you are coaching salespeople (instead of just training a “staff”), you’ll find that sales and service will excel.

The most important thing to remember is that you can’t be everywhere all the time. Incentives do work, but highly trained professionals know that they always succeed when check averages rise. So, instead of dangling prizes in front of your employees, train them to think of themselves as their own professional profit centers. Here are a few ways to begin:

  • Provide solid sales training. More often than not, servers and bartenders haven’t received any formal sales training prior to taking the job at your restaurant. It’s your responsibility to teach them the basics as part of new employee orientation and through ongoing sales lessons during pre-shift team meetings. Teach, train, coach and counsel every day. If you think you can’t afford it, think again. Servers who are trained to increase sales through suggestive selling can improve your per person check average $1 or more.
  • Create a professional atmosphere. Employees won’t act like professionals if they’re treated like slugs. Empower your salespeople to handle customer service issues and other responsibilities. Make them a part of your marketing and menu decisions whenever possible. Create mentoring programs where your top performers are rewarded for encouraging and coaching weaker performers while on the floor.
  • Encourage prospecting. In most restaurants, it isn’t the server’s job to bring in new customers, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Give all your servers restaurant “business cards” good for a free appetizer or dessert. Each server signs his or her name on the back of the card and gets $1 for each card that’s redeemed. Not only will this increase sales and traffic, it will encourage your staff to become part of the overall sales process — from prospecting to closing the deal!

Restaurant Service and Sales Training

The Service & Sales Excellence Waitstaff Training Series is based on Service That Sells!, a restaurant training philosophy developed by restaurant owners for restaurant owners. Click here to learn more.