For Restaurant Servers: Guide Your Guests


When suggesting appetizers and desserts, have you ever noticed that some guests never quite say yes or no? They may mumble that they’re “kind of full” or “not sure.” Indecisive guests want guidance. Who better to offer direction than their server? Here are some ideas for restaurant servers to increase add-on sales of items such as appetizers and desserts.

  • If you suggest dessert and a party of two or more hesitates, never say: “I’ll give you a few more minutes” and then leave the table. Instead, suggest they share, using this dialogue: “You know, all of our desserts come with multiple forks!” The same strategy works well when suggesting appetizers.
  • Another way to guide your guests is to suggest your favorite items. Your endorsement carries a lot of clout. “Make sure you save room for one of our great desserts. The apple pie is my favorite, but the chocolate lava cake is a close second.”
  • When a guest asks “What’s good today?” describe the specials, and if you’ve tried one that you especially like, remember to endorse it: “I tried the vegan quesadilla before my shift and it’s really good!”
  • When suggesting appetizers and desserts, assume the sale. Don’t say “Do you want an appetizer?” That makes it too easy for guests to say no. Instead, ask which they’d prefer, like this: “Here are those drinks for you. Have you had a chance to look over the appetizer menu? What looks good to you?”

Not all restaurant servers have the skills to be salespeople. Just like your guests, they need guidance. Sales training for restaurant servers should include role-playing, sample dialogue, and product knowledge. To encourage application of your sales training, setup a program of incentives, contests, and rewards to keep restaurant servers motivated.

Sales Training for Restaurant Servers

Online sales training for restaurant servers provides a solid foundation to give your servers the confidence they need to sell. 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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