Driving with service magic:
Implementing sales techniques in your restaurant
Do you think sales happen by magic? In a way, you are right because you create the magic of your guest’s positive impression of your restaurant’s food and service.
Management and employees need to drive sales. Your service personnel are your primary sales people. The kitchen staff must be motivated to provide quality food to your guests. Management needs to keep both areas on track and make sure that the mood for each customer is a positive experience. There are two key elements we see as the magic that can keep staff on track and positively motivated: “WOW Steps of Service” and “Pre-Shift Alley Rally”.
First, each server must realize that they are sellers and they will create more tips and happier guests by selling the menu. This means that every server should know the menu from the inside out. This is done through proper server training and motivation from your managers.
How many times have you visited a restaurant and the server was completely unaware of menu knowledge? Does it create the magic you want in service? What about the server that quickly answered your questions about the menu? This is the WOW service magic you need to create in your serving staff.
WOW steps for service
There are many aspects to training your waiters and waitresses. These are basically summarized in the easy to remember format of the WOW Steps of Service. Know your servers and use WOW Steps of Service? If so, you are ahead of the game. Here is an overview of the frequently used steps:
- Regards – Seat: Make sure every guest is greeted as soon as they enter the restaurant. You can even add more flair by opening the door and welcoming them as guests. Place your guests as soon as possible. Customers hate standing at the door when there are plenty of open tables in sight.
- Tell-Sell: Tell guests about the menu to sell the menu. This is a key factor for all service personnel. Waiters and waitresses should be immediately informed of changes to the menu and if there are special offers. They need to know the menu completely. They must be able to answer any guest questions. They also need to know what they personally like in the menu and what are popular items on the menu. They have to sell the menu. Plant the thought in the guest’s mind by suggesting a menu item. If the guest says they don’t like it, ask the guest if they like a particular type of food – spicy or mild, fried or grilled, and such. Their questions incite thoughts in the guest’s mind and create the feeling that the server will sincerely delight the guest, which should always be the case.
- Ring Bring: Call food immediately. Each server needs to be trained in how to call the orders or place the orders in the kitchen. If you have a POS system, they should each be trained so that they know how to call 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 for 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. Waiters and waitresses must give special instructions to the kitchen staff. As soon as the food is ready, it should be brought to the hot food hot, cold food cold. If it sits, the temperature will not be as it should be and this can create customer complaints. Who wants a cold steak? Serve it quickly. Teamwork is ideal – every person has to deliver food to the table. If this server is busy and cannot deliver it quickly, someone else must deliver it, then check that server as soon as possible to ensure that the guest has received everything.
- Check back – Refill: After two bites or less than two minutes, the server must check back to ensure that the guest is satisfied with the food. Even if the guest says it’s fine, the server should read their body language and expressions and ask questions if they have any doubts 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 asks for a refill. The server must be proactive and refill before being asked. They should also check back throughout the meal and remove empty plates or glasses.
- Tell – sell desserts: Before guests finish eating the main course, the server must propose a dessert item. Plant the idea in the guest’s mind by saying, “Save space for one of our delicious desserts.” Servers don’t just have to ask if the guest wants desserts. The server should say something like, “We have these moist, delicious chocolate cookies baked from a local bakery. It’s my favorite dessert item. Wouldn’t you love to try it?” If the guest says no, they can also ask for the guest’s favorite dessert. If the guest says they are too full for dessert, the server may suggest an execution box to get the dessert later. If desserts are ordered, they must be brought immediately. If no dessert order is made, the server must ensure that guest check is ready.
- Check back – Check down: Within two bites or within two minutes, the server must check the dessert back with the already checked check. If guests are satisfied with the dessert or have not ordered dessert, the server can cancel the check. If you have server control buttons, place them vertically. 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 box is no longer upright. Make sure the server has provided execution boxes if desired, or suggest them if there is a lot of food left. The server must bring these execution boxes immediately.
- Receive – Reset: The server must return to receive the payment. If it is a credit card, they must 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. Once guests have left the table, the server must reset the table within two minutes to allow the next guests to sit.
These steps are easily learned by your staff. Different restaurants may vary in their service style, but these steps can be used or adapted to any restaurant. If you implement these steps consistently, you will create the right impression on your guests and they will want to return.
Pre-Shift Alley Rally
Management is ultimately responsible for leading sales in your restaurant. They must motivate your staff properly and communicate effectively.
Fifteen minutes before any peak period, management should conduct an alley rally to keep employees informed. Always make sure the alley rally is upbeat and positive, as negative comments will only bring down the crew and ultimately affect guest service.
- Focus for the day
- Today’s function or special
- Tips on selling a particular item
- Recognized any employee who performed in addition to duties
- Uniform compliance
- Server and / or cook competition
- Guest reservations in large groups planned
The management must project a good and fun atmosphere for the change.
Reward employees with:
- Free meals
- movie Tickets
- Lottery tickets
- Gift card
Believe it or not, your guests are listening and observing the management and staff. Good interaction between management and staff leaves a positive view of your restaurant.
Happy employees who love their jobs and actual desires to get to work and will be more skilled and will project a positive aura in the guest’s view. Happy staff make a positive impression on your guests.
No matter what – the guests are always right, even if they are wrong. Make sure each guest leaves satisfied. Your atmosphere, the food served and the service staff will all impress the guest. Every customer’s positive impression of your restaurant is ultimately the magic of repeat business to create sales – happy customers lead to higher sales!