Server Training: Are They Working Harder (or Smarter)?


There are a few cold hard truths in the restaurant business. The main one may be that you will work as hard for five bucks as you do for fifty. The man who walks into a restaurant, takes up prime booth space, orders water, a small salad and the cheapest meal will take as much time as the couple who has drinks, appetizers, dinner and dessert.

So let’s talk about how to boost productivity in your team by showing your servers how to work smarter, instead of just harder. The first obstacle may be convincing your team members that they are in the sales business and that soft selling is one of the ways they can deliver exceptional service.

You’ll find that servers may initially resist the title of “sales” and be hesitant to face rejection, but a little math may go a long way. Larger guest checks result in larger tips: it’s as simple as that. Prepare for your training session by comparing two typical guest checks in your restaurant. Create a basic no appetizers, no desserts, no drinks, etc. tab and compare it to a full-blown, “let’s splurge” bill. Then, tally the totals and a standard 15 percent tip. Your servers will find that their tip size can almost double. Then, show how those larger bills can mean more money per shift, per month… even per year. Your servers will be motivated to become true salespeople when they see that they can almost double their salaries with just a little soft selling.

After you’ve motivated your team to try suggestive selling, you’ll need to continually boost their confidence. They need to feel secure with their products (your menu!) and their ability to succeed or fail gracefully (no one wants a customer to become upset or annoyed). The only way to ensure that your team stays motivated and confident is to train them… again and again. Only by daily, ongoing training will you instill a sales mindset and create a professional sales and service team.

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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