Prop Up Your Bar Sales


The restaurant business is show business — and your servers and bartenders should never go “on stage” without their props. Sales props, that is. What are they? Tools servers and bartenders can use to reinforce their menu suggestions. Examples include table tents, promotional posters, menus, bottles of wine, bottles and tall glasses of beer, reader boards and all your beer, wine and specialty drink menus and lists.

Why bother? Customers buy more when salespeople impact several senses while describing their products. When guests have something appealing to look at as a drink item is described, odds are they’ll buy it. The key to using sales props is to make sure customers look at them. Oh, and be sure they’re clean and in good shape, not stained, frayed or torn.

Pre-Shift Bar Sales Training

At a pre-shift or monthly sales meeting, have staff practice handing table tents, beer, wine and specialty
drink lists to guests and point out specific items as they suggest them. For example, when a guest asks “What kind of wines do you have?” servers should open the wine list, hand it to the guest and say: “We have a great selection, as you’ll see here on our wine list. Today we’re featuring our Sutter Home wines. They make a terrific Chardonnay which would complement all of the entrees you’ve ordered (pointing to that item on the list). Shall I bring you a bottle?” It will help servers reinforce what they say with what the guest sees to increase sales.

Reader Boards

Look around your restaurant. Are reader boards readable from every table? Have servers and bartenders practice pointing out the ones closest to their section as they describe specials to their guests.

Show Off

Hold a staff practice parade around the restaurant, with servers and bartenders carrying trays with bottles of wine, eye-appealing drinks, tall beers, appetizers and desserts through the dining room in a way that will catch the most customer attention. This is one of the most effective techniques for selling eye-appealing drinks and desserts — that’s why servers should always remember to make a show of delivering them each time a customer orders one.

Saving the Best for Last

Consider adding small “airline-size” liqueur bottles to your dessert tray. That way, when servers display the tray to their guests, they’ll automatically remember to suggest after-dinner drinks, as well as dessert and liqueur combinations. Train them to keep the tray below the guest’s eye level and point out each dessert and liqueur while describing it. It’s a great, inexpensive way to increase your sales of specialty liqueurs. But instead of actually serving those small bottles, fill the display bottles with water to control inventory and pour from the big bottles at the bar — it’s much cheaper.

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