The people sitting at the tables in your restaurant are a captive audience, and the more they order, the better it is for your bottom line. To boost their ticket totals, you need to train your servers how to upsell. Consider trying these tips.
Have Servers Try the Foods
When someone’s at a restaurant, they expect recommendations from their server. If your staff hasn’t tried the majority of the food on your menu, they can’t credibly recommend dishes. To remedy this situation, consider offering free staff meals that rotate through different options on the menu. When you’re rolling out a new menu, try scheduling a sample afternoon, where servers get to try the new dishes. Keep in mind if a customer asks "how’s the chicken?" and the server replies "amazing," that’s going to sell a lot more dishes than a server who replies "I don’t know. I’ve never tried it."
Educate About Pairings
Ordering dishes is just the start. Once your customers do that, your servers should be able to jump in with recommendations about what pairs well with that dish. That way, if a hungry customer orders a roast beef and cheddar sandwich, your server can pipe up and let them know that the French onion soup is a delicious accompaniment to the meal. Similarly, if a table orders a round of steaks followed by flourless chocolate torts, a knowledgeable server can recommend wines that take the diners through both of those courses.
These recommendations can be a powerful way to raise ticket totals, but your servers need to be educated about food to pull it off. In that realm, you have two options. You can screen for this type of knowledge during the recruiting process, or you can devote time to training your staff after you hire them.
Never Stop Training
That said, training is an ongoing process. When possible, try to include your servers as you expand your menu. For instance, if a wine rep has a bunch of new wines for you to try, consider inviting your top servers to the tasting. They can taste the new options, and you can get their opinions on which wines to buy for your restaurant. Similarly, you may want to take 10 minutes or so at the beginning of every evening to go over new specials.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Upselling at the table requires servers to think on their feet. They need to be mentally nimble and ready to make all kinds of recommendations. To help new employees practice, you may want to run simulations, where the servers take orders from each other to practice. As necessary, you may even want to do that with seasoned employees.
Remind Servers of the Personal Connection
When your servers upsell, it drives up ticket prices and helps increase your revenue, but it also directly impacts your servers. Remind your servers of the value of upselling, and break down the numbers as well. For instance, if your servers are likely to get a $20 tip on a $100 meal, they’re likely to get a $30 tip on a $150 meal. If they remember that upselling puts money in their own pockets, they may be more keen to try harder.
Upselling is a useful tool in any sales industry, but it can be especially useful in restaurants. You have a limit on how many people can fit in your establishment, so while the tables are occupied, it can help to increase the ticket totals as much as possible.