Training your restaurant employees on service and sales is more important today than it’s ever been. To survive and thrive going forward, you’ll have to increase per-person check averages without drastic price hikes, all while delivering service that brings guests back. Training is the wind for your restaurant sales.
Service & Sales Training is a Win-Win
They say money can’t buy happiness, but every hospitality employee we know says, “Fork some over and watch me smile!” When servers understand that they can earn more in tips through increasing sales and improving service, they’ll crave strategies that will help them do just that. Targeted sales training that teaches servers about product knowledge, situational selling, and suggestive add-ons will increase the restaurant’s profits and the server’s take-home pay.
Servers and bartenders should be trained to see themselves as independent contractors. Your waitstaff’s station, section or bar is their “territory.” Guests “sign” their commission checks daily in the form of tips, repeat business and referred business. The restaurant takes all the risk and pays for all the up-front costs: table settings, utilities, insurance, flatware, napkins, food and beverage, etcetera. Your servers have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Everyone Can Be a Salesperson
It probably makes sense to you to think of your servers as salespeople. But how does training your bus staff or host staff have an impact on better service or higher sales? Good question! Consider this scenario:
A couple having dinner flags down a passing service assistant and asks him to please get their server. “What do you need, sir?” asks the service assistant.
Just another drink, please,” the man says. “A vodka tonic.”
“Do you want to try top shelf vodka in that?” asks the service assistant, nodding subtly.
“Sure…” the man says, surprised. “Top shelf would be great.” The service assistant tells the server, and the server brings out the drink. The guest was served quicker (and therefore better) and the server saved a step and made a better tip (and maybe the service assistant too), all because someone took the time to invest some product knowledge training in their bus staff.
Plant the Seed at the Host Stand
Don’t forget to also invest restaurant training time and money in the first salesperson your guests meet … your host!
For example, a host seats two of your guests and instead of just saying “Enjoy your dinner!” he says, “We’ve got a great selection of wines by the glass listed here, and an incredible Mud Pie for dessert. Enjoy your dinner!”
Hear the difference? By briefly pointing out specific beverages and food (wine and Mud Pie) this host has opened the “window of opportunity” for the server to follow up with another wine or dessert suggestion and most likely make the sale and higher tip!
Could your service assistant or host perform their job in the same manner as the ones in the above scenarios? Do you think that the service assistant or host was born with that ability or were they taught that skill? Training all of your front line employees to know the menu and the right words results in better service, higher sales, and perhaps most importantly, sets your restaurant and bar apart from your competitors who don’t. Remember: 90 percent of all restaurants and bars do 90 percent of the same things the same way. It’s the 10 percent we do differently that means 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.