Boost Restaurant Sales with a Better System


Are you running pre-shift meetings, training your restaurant staff, tacking up specials, and talking about high-profit items until you’re blue in the face. Are you worried that if you push your servers to sell any harder, your restaurant will become the food-industry equivalent of a used car dealer? It might be time to take a fresh look at how to boost restaurant sales.

Your system is the key to your restaurant sales. Have your salespeople adopted a knee-jerk reaction to customers and their orders, a kind of “you want fries with that?” approach? And, if so, what have you done to encourage this? Do you typically make server sales contests that focus on the most popular items… or the most profitable? Do you talk about profit margins or making guests happier?

Zig Ziglar, the sales guru, once said, “You can have everything in life that you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” To boost restaurant sales, the key is finding out what your customers want. In the hospitality industry, it’s simple: to have a good time your guests need good food, good service, and a good atmosphere.

The first step to giving people what they want is setting up a system that marries service with sales. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Get everyone on the same page (including you): Good service happens when customers make good selections. Role-play repeatedly with your team to determine what guests are interested in, what they like, and make sure the chefs clearly communicate ingredients and preparation techniques. Make it mandatory for new employees to sample everything on the menu.
  • Create accountability, not blame. Instead of insisting on a sales number per shift, make sales goals that span a longer time frame. This shows servers that as they develop their skills of determining what guests want and fulfilling those needs, their sales will increase as well.
  • Award service AND sales. If you truly want to communicate that the goal of your operation is to make customers happy—and suggestively selling customized items is one way to reach that goal—then you must evaluate service as well as sales. One way to measure this is to tally the percentages of tips a server received in the last month. Your best servers—and sellers—will consistently be at 20 percent. Acknowledging that—and rewarding it—is critical to your success.

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.

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