Hot Enough for Ya? (And Ice Breakers That Really Work)


Small talk is something not enough managers train their waitstaff on, yet it’s very important to the guests’ overall impressions of a restaurant. While it comes naturally to some servers, others jump right in to the specials and leave customers without even a “How are you tonight?” Unfortunately, without small talk the ice may never be broken… and guests will leave feeling as if they’ve had a good meal, but not a great experience.

Train your servers to establish relationships with guests – and increase your business and their tips – with these types of ice breakers.

  • “You all look great tonight. What’s the occasion?” Servers find out if guests are celebrating something and it leads the way for future sales opportunities as well (“How about some cake to reward that great report card?”).
  • “I’d like to find the perfect meal for you on our menu. What’s your favorite all-time dish?” This will prompt guests to remember favorite occasions and give servers the opportunity to lead guests to specific items.
  • “I have to tell you, the chef is in a really great mood tonight… I can tell because he made all his favorite dishes. It’s your lucky night!” Guests like to hear about the chef and they love to eat what the chef selects. It’s also a great way to lead into specials.
  • “Have you heard the one about…?” Whenever a server comes up to the table chuckling and says, “OK, I have to tell you this joke I just heard in the kitchen…” guests are already smiling. In pre-shift meetings have team members bring in their best clean jokes and rotate them around.

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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