Driving Sales by Service Magic:
Implementing Sales Techniques in Your Restaurant
Do you think that sales happen by magic? In a sense you are right, because you create the magic by your guest’s positive impression of your restaurant’s food and service.
Management and employees need to drive sales. Your Service Staff are your primary sales persons. The Kitchen Employees should be motivated to provide quality food for your guests. Management needs to keep both areas on track and make sure the atmosphere for each customer is a positive experience. There are two key items we see as the magic that can keep staff on track and positively motivated: the “WOW Steps of Service” and the “Pre-Shift Alley Rally”.
First each server must realize that they are sales people and they will create more tips and happier guests by selling the menu. This means every server must know the menu inside and out. This happens by proper server training and motivation from your managers.
How many times have you visited a restaurant and the server was completely oblivious in menu knowledge? Does that create the magic you want in service? How about the server who quickly responded about your questions regarding the menu? That is the WOW service magic that you must create in your serving staff.
WOW Steps of Service
There are many aspects in training your waiters and waitresses. These are basically summed up in the easy-to-remember format of the WOW Steps of Service. Do your servers know and use the WOW Steps of Service? If so, you are ahead of the game. Here is a summary of those commonly used steps:
- Greet – Seat: Make sure every guest is greeted as soon as they come into the restaurant. You can even add more flair by opening the door and welcoming them as guests. Seat your guests as quickly as possible. Customers hate standing at the door when there are lots of open tables in sight.
- Tell- Sell: Tell the guests about the menu to sell the menu. This is a key factor for all service staff. The waiters and waitresses should be informed immediately of any changes in the menu and if there are special promotions. They must know the menu completely. They should be able to answer any guest questions. They should also know what they personally like on the menu, and what are popular items on the menu. They should sell the menu. Plant the thought in the guest’s mind by suggesting a menu item. If the guest says they don’t like that item, then they should ask the guest if they like a certain type of food – spicy or mild, fried or grilled, and such. Their questions spur thoughts in the guest’s mind and create a sense that the server sincerely wants to please that guest-which should always be the case anyway.
- Ring-Bring: Ring in the food immediately. Each server should be trained on how you ring in the orders or place the orders to the kitchen. If you have a Point of Sale (POS) system, they should each be trained so they know how to ring in the order. If you use paper checks, make sure you have developed a system, so that the flow from the guest to the kitchen, back to the guest, and then to the register is smooth. The clearer the check and information to the kitchen, the better the kitchen is able to prepare the food in the way it was requested. Children’s food should be prepared and served first, whenever possible. The waiters and waitresses should give any special instructions to the kitchen staff. Then as soon as the food is ready it should be brought to the table-hot food hot, cold food cold. If it sits, then the temperature won’t be as it should be, and this can create customer complaints. Who want a cold steak? Serve it fast. Teamwork is ideal-every person should deliver food to the table. If that server is busy and can’t deliver it fast, then someone else should deliver it, then that server checks back as soon as possible to make sure the guest has received everything.
- Check back – Refill: After two bites or less than two minutes the server should check back to make sure the guest is happy with the food. Even if the guest says it is fine, the server should read their body language and expressions and ask questions if they are in doubt about the guest’s level of satisfaction. Refill drinks when the glass is half full. Don’t wait to see an empty glass or the guest to ask for a refill. The server should be proactive and refill before it is asked. They should also be checking back throughout the meal and removing any empty plates or glasses.
- Tell – Sell Desserts: Before the guests are finished eating the main dish, the server should suggest a dessert item. Plant the idea in the guest’s mind by saying, “Save room for one of our delicious desserts.” Servers should not just ask if the guest wants desserts. The server should say something like, “We have these moist delicious chocolate cakes that are baked from a local bakery. It is my favorite dessert item. Wouldn’t you love to try it?” If the guest says no, they can also ask about the guest’s favorite dessert. If the guest says they are too full for dessert, the server can suggest a carry-out box to have the dessert later. If desserts are ordered, they should be brought out right away. If no dessert order is placed, the server should make sure the guest check is ready.
- Check back – Check down: Within two bites or within two minutes the server should check back on the dessert with the check already tallied. If the guests are happy with the dessert or didn’t order dessert, then the server can put the check down. If you have server check pads, place them upright. This serves two purposes, it is easy for the guest to see the check and it is also easy for the server to know if the guest has payment ready when the check pad is no longer upright. Make sure that the server has supplied carry out boxes, if requested, or suggest them if there is a lot of food leftover. The server should bring those carry out boxes immediately.
- Receive – Reset: The server should return to receive the payment. If it is a credit card, they should process it immediately and return it to the guest for signature. The server should also invite the guest to return to the restaurant and thank them for their visit. Then once the guests have left the table, the server should reset the table within two minutes so that the next guests may be seated.
These steps are easily learned by your staff. Different restaurants may vary in their service style, but these steps can be used or adapted for any restaurant. Consistently implementing these steps will create the right impression on your guests and they will want to return.
Pre-Shift Alley Rally
Management is ultimately responsible for driving sales in your restaurant. They must properly motivate your staff and communicate effectively.
Fifteen minutes prior to any peak period management should conduct an alley rally to keep the employees informed. Always make sure the alley rally is upbeat and positive, as negative comments will only bring the crew down and ultimately will affect guest service.
- The focus of the day
- The feature or special of the day
- Suggestively selling a specific item
- Recognize any employee that performed over and beyond duties
- Uniform compliance
- Server and/or cook contest
- Guest reservations in large groups scheduled
Management needs to project a great and fun atmosphere for the shift.
Reward the employees with:
- Free meals
- Movie Tickets
- Lottery tickets
- Gift card
Believe it or not, your guests will be listening and observing management and the staff. Good interaction between management and staff leave a positive perception of your restaurant.
Happy employees who love their job and actual want to come to work and will be more proficient and will project a positive aura in the view of the guest. Happy employees give a positive impression on your guests.
No matter what–the guests are always right, even if they are wrong. Make sure every guest leaves satisfied. Your atmosphere, the food served, and the service staff will all make an impression on the guest. Each customer’s positive impression of your restaurant is ultimately the magic of repeat business to drive sales–happy customers lead to higher sales!