“Nobody likes to be sold, but people love to buy”, says sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer, author of the Little Red Book of Selling. So true, especially when you’re out with friends or family, on a first date, enjoying a regular date night or just shaking off a long day. The last thing your patron wants is to be sold. They are looking for a great experience. The good news is you can accomplish both goals without being overbearing.
The experience starts when the patron walks into the establishment, gets a warm greeting from the Host and is seated right away. Here’s what you can do:
Take Drink Orders Right Away
Once you see that your table has opened their menus and are settling in, approach the table, give them your warm greeting without sounding scripted then promptly take drink orders. Chances are, after their drinks are delivered and they’ve decided on what they’d like, they will order another beverage during their meal.
Know Your Pairings
Do you have an amazing sparkling wine that goes well with your East Coast oysters? Let them know about it. If you have special non-alcoholic drinks that will compliment meal choices, remember those too. If possible, offer flights of beverages or tasting portions.
Encourage Side Substitutions
If a sandwich or entree comes with fries or a standard side, it’s likely priced to sell. Substituting the usual side for a salad, fresh vegetables or something interesting like a special macaroni and cheese or a sweet potato will probably be a slight up-charge. Your guests will be delighted with the special attention of being listened to and accommodated with their own unique choice.
One for the Table?
This is a great line to keep in your back pocket. If you have a specialty that absolutely should not be missed or if a patron cannot decide between several entrees suggest they order an extra entree for the table to share family style. The words ‘family style’ are comforting and create a warm atmosphere. Remind them any leftovers can be packaged for their convenience and taken home.
One to Split?
If your patrons don’t order a salad, you can suggest one to split. It’s a really nice touch if the kitchen serves the half portions on separate plates for the patrons to enjoy. The portions are likely large enough for an individual. The guests will be happy you are focused on their experience while providing value – two for the price of one!
It’s easy to say no to dessert after a big meal. Leave the dessert options on the table without saying a word. Give the patrons time to mull over the choices then come back to gauge the interest. If you receive an uncertain ‘no’ offer to serve a popular selection with several spoons. Remember to pair with coffee, specialty coffees, coffee drinks or after dinner drinks. If you need to turn the table, offer to move them to the bar or lounge area allowing you to increase the number of tables you serve in a shift.