The Secret to Sweet Success


One of the easiest ways to increase per-person check averages is to sell more desserts. Guests are dining out for a complete experience, not just a meal. Many times, they want to order dessert, they just need a little guidance to help them choose the perfect match for their sweet tooth. Train servers on these techniques to sell more desserts:

  • Teach servers to plant the seed for dessert sales at least twice before guests finish their meals: once when taking the entrée order and again when you deliver the entrée. Be specific with suggestions with dialogue such as “Be sure to save room for our deep dish apple pie or New York cheesecake!” Train host staff to plant the seed, too, by using table tents or other props to introduce guests to your dessert selection as guests are seated.
  • At a training session, ask servers to write down at least three descriptive adjectives or phrases for each dessert you offer. Use role-playing to help them incorporate those adjectives into their sales dialogue.
  • Train servers to be prepared when guests hesitate about ordering desserts. If guests are in a hurry, they may love the idea of taking a dessert to go. Guests in a party of two or more may say they’re “too full” for dessert, but would be tempted by the idea of ordering one dessert with a few extra forks.
  • Consider creating seasonal limited-time-only dessert items, paired with a specialty coffee or liqueur, and promote the combination with table tents, menu inserts and/or uniform buttons.

Role-Play to Sell More Desserts

When suggesting desserts, make it easy for guests to say “yes!” The canned order-taking line sounds something like, “Do you want some dessert?” or, worse, “Did you save room for dessert?” This is begging the guest to say “no.” Listen to this exchange instead:

Server, clearing plates: “I’m glad to see you enjoyed the special!”

Guest: “Thanks for the recommendation, it was delicious.”

Server: “Great! Now you’re ready for the best part of the meal — dessert! Our homemade pie today is fresh peach, and it’s even better with a scoop of cinnamon ice cream. And our chocolate mousse is drizzled with fresh whipped cream and topped with strawberries dipped in white chocolate… it’s to die for!”

Guest, looking at spouse: “I don’t know; I’m pretty full.”

Server: “All our desserts come with more than one fork. Which would you prefer?”

Guests, together: “Bring on the pie!”

Now doesn’t that sound better?

Online Waitstaff Sales Training

Need help training your servers to increase restaurant profitability? Our 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 about our restaurant training program delivered on the powerful trainingGrid® learning management system.

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