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Ana Doaga

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Train Your Waiting Staff to do Suggestive Selling I

Waiter restaurant

Fine dining restaurant waiter recommends wine to guests

Having your staff on your side is the key criteria when it comes to doing good restaurant business, as their conduct and engagement have a great impact on the customer experience and your profits, as well. Front-line employees are the ones your guests meet, the ones they take recommendations from and ask for advice. With this in mind, ensuring that they understand the benefits of suggestive selling and that they are well-trained in such techniques is a must. So, to help you increase your incomes, your profits and the levels of customer satisfaction, we have made a list of the top methods you should use to bring your human resources and your business to the next level.

  1. First of all, make your staff understand why suggestive selling is important. Your waiters must know that it does not only help them increase the company’s profit and margins, but also impact customer satisfaction, as well as their own tips. Suggestive selling is not a bad thing, you don’t take advantage of customers and force them to order more items. What you do, instead, is ensure that they order dishes which complement one another, ensuring they have a good experience and enjoy what they pay for. It is a form of advising customers, while having in mind their best interest, as well as the restaurant’s: if the venue generates good profits, they afford to keep the quality standards high and treat guests to the experience they come in for.

  2. Teach your waiters not to be pushy. Good things always happen at the right moments, so encourage your servers to “read” their customers and see whether they are open to suggestions. A businessman who has his eyes in his phone might be less interested in hearing recommendations than one who is having a business dinner with a partner and wants to ensure they get to enjoy a quality meal. On the other hand, a person who looks at the menu longer, might be less certain of what to get and consequently, more open to suggestions. Either way, suggestive selling should remain subtle and polite. Don’t overdo it, by recommending more than 2 items, if the customer has not asked for your advice.

  3. As in everything, relevancy is key. Waiters need to know the menu, the dishes’ ingredients and have proper training regarding how they can be mixed. Apart from that, it is very important that they have information on how to pair wines and food. At the end of the day, suggestive selling should be beneficial to the customers; otherwise, for a couple of extra dollars, you risk losing them.

  4. Focus on the product’s benefits. Asking guests if they want an appetizer is one thing, but recommending them to try your deliciously savoury bruschetta, served with warm goat cheese as a starter, until their steaks cook is another thing. When they sell, servers should always entice customers with their descriptions.

  5. Teach waiters that price isn’t everything. Your staff must understand that the value of the check isn’t everything that’s important. Margins are also relevant metrics that we cannot ignore, as they impact profits. To ensure they deliver the best results, waiters should know the dishes’ profitability and try to direct the customers towards products in the same range, but with higher margins. For example, if you know that your seasoned fries cost $0.50 more than average fries, but that each side of seasoned brings you  +$0.47 compared to average fries, why not have your customer test the mouth-watering salt and vinegar flavor?

Our tips on suggesting selling don’t end here, though! Stay tuned and we will get back with part II.

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