Effective service increases sales
Service standards have been declining for sometime now especially since the turn of the century.
In many cases speed has become more important dictated by busy but wealthy patrons and competition from fast food eateries. Shortage of properly trained servers and young, eager individuals to work in
the industry has also contributed largely to this unfortunate situation. Service is a noble profession if properly taught and genuinely and gracefully performed.
There are many wealthy professional servers in Europe who accumulated sufficient wealth to open their own restaurants with hard work, dedication, and selling ability.
Techniques of service can be learned by anyone willing, but outstanding service is practiced art that only talented and charismatic people can perform. It requires anticipating guest’s needs before it is requested.
Restaurant service is what you do for a guest the moment he/she calls for a reservation, until departure. A guest must leave the establishment satisfied with the quality and presentation of the food, service, beverage offerings and environment. All components of the service must be in balance, and delivered professionally. A guest must never feel rushed. Satisfied guests leave a well-managed restaurant desiring to return as soon as possible.
There are many types of guests; some expect swift service, others like to dine in a leisurely fashion, yet others seek culinary a experience along with entertainment. In an ordinary restaurant, pending on the menu the clientele, the service might be fast or leisurely, or elaborate or theatrical.
While some patrons wish to eat and drink as fast as food and beverages can be served, others prefer to spend time over a cup of coffee, or after dinner liqueurs or digestives. The observant server will recognise this and adjust the speed of service accordingly.
Effective service starts with taking the reservation properly on the phone by asking for the time, number in the party, date, other important information such as birthday celebration, business meeting, and celebration of any other type.
Order must be taken properly (recommendation if and when necessary) and repeated to avoid problems. Properly taken orders contain all required information i.e doneness of a steak, vegetable or starch substitutions, sauce service (in a separate boat or on the food), beverages and how guests request them to be served.
Guests should be first shown to a table and asked, if it is suitable. After all are seated menus must be presented properly.
Before guests start perusing the menu the server approaches the table asking whether the party would like to order an aperitif, a glass of wine, or a cocktail. Notice all choices require a positive answer rather than short yes or no. This is the first step of increasing sales.
It is important to say “Enjoy” after placing the main course in front of each patron, and after they have taken a bite or two approach the table and ask whether everything is to their satisfaction. This is called the quality check, and saves a lot of problems later on, if anyone in the party decides to complain.
In fast food restaurants after the main course is served it is best to have the cheque ready.
Presenting a cheque properly also requires some thought. If a female is entertaining a male client and she failed to inform the server in advance, it is best to place the cheque in the middle of the table. Professional servers lay the foundation of selling dessert, coffee, and/or a digestive while clearing the main course plate.
This can be achieved by gently suggesting a special dessert or fresh fruit salad should the guest claim to be on a diet. Coffee is always liked and should be offered by saying our coffee is from Colombia and of the highest quality.
The same goes for tea. Savvy servers will say our tea is from Darjeeling loose-leaf orange pekoe and we prepare it to order.
Effective service and job satisfaction
By the very nature of the profession a server must show genuine concern to satisfy guests. A surly server spoils the experience more thoroughly than shortcomings of food and ambiance, or poor quality beverages.
Servers are pressured from many sides – management for productivity and sales; guests for attentive service; kitchen to pick up orders when they are ready, and fellow workers to help them out if and when necessary.
Personal problems must never affect behaviour. Job satisfaction arises from three sources – guests, management and personals satisfaction.
A happy guest tips well and returns. Experts agree that there is no better advertising than word-of-mouth. Repeat clientele is the backbone of any business but particularly food and accommodation industries.
Servers that regard guest satisfaction as top priority and act accordingly succeed, regardless of the quality level of the establishment.
Link between attentive service and tips
Attentive service leads to high gratuities. Service must be provided with dignity, friendliness, professionalism and genuine concern for the well being of all guests. Accommodation of special dietary requests and intimate knowledge of all ingredients in each dish are particularly appreciated.
All cutlery, glassware and condiment containers must be immaculately clean.
Spotty cutlery or glassware lead guests to conclude that management is lax, even before any food arrives. Some guests even visit the washrooms before making a decision to patronize the restaurant. Keeping washrooms immaculately clean is an absolute must. Regardless many developing countries and even some developed countries restaurant washrooms leave a lot to be desired.
Dust, cobwebs, dirty and mouldy smelling carpets do not inspire confidence regardless of food and service quality.
First negative impressions are very difficult to reverse. Some repeat guests like to be served by a particular server. They know what habitués want and know how want to be served. All efforts by management should be made to ensure that regular patrons receive their accustomed level of service and attention.
This aspect of hospitality is so important to some consumers that they follow their favourite bartender wherever he/she decides to work. A satisfied regular is a business asset.
Exploring guest’s needs
Successful servers gather information about likes and dislikes of their regulars and determine their needs.
Restaurant guests arrive hungry and thirsty. They appreciate suggestions and are receptive to specials offered.
Restaurant clientele is captive and successful servers masterfully sell additional foods and beverages.
Simple questions like “Are you celebrating?” or ”We have a superb special today – pan-fried scallops in a white wine ands cream sauce” almost always end up being an additional order.
Guests allergic to certain ingredients appreciate servers whose culinary knowledge helps them avoid dishes that contain them.
Parties celebrating a joyous occasion order larger and more lavish meals. On other hand guests on a limited budget appreciate servers who guide them accordingly.
Essentially an experienced server is a good, amateur psychologist.
Observant servers guide hurried guests to ready-to-serve dishes and serve them in quick succession.
Parties looking for gastronomic experiences should be treated accordingly. They appreciate both food and wine and appreciate recommendations.
Making guests feel important
Every human being wants to feel important. The hospitality industry caters to the physical well being of each patron as well as to his/her ego. Successful servers remember the names of regular guests, their eating habits, preferences, likes, and favourite beverages. It is unlikely for a guest to refuse a cocktail he/she had asked for in a previous visit if it appears on the table shortly after seating, even though he may have wanted to order something else.
Maitre d’hotels or hosts who recognize and acknowledge regular guests and lead them automatically to their favourite table contribute to their satisfaction level.
Regular patrons like to be recognized and feel happy when addressed by their name. Yet all service staff must never become familiar.
Friendliness and familiarity are two entirely different things and must never be confused.
Professional servers answer all questions, even those irrelevant or pointless, with dignity, and tactfully. Condescension must never enter the mind of any server. Belittled patrons will never return regardless of service, food quality, or anything else.
A salesperson must believe in what he/she is selling and make the pitch accordingly.
Suggestive selling is one of the most important aspects of the restaurant business.
Artfully exercised it results in substantial, additional sales important to profitability. Often managers neglect to emphasise the importance of suggestive selling and practically never train servers in proven techniques. In order to suggest successfully servers must know each product well and be able to describe it briefly, succinctly and in a mouth watering fashion.
Management can encourage suggestive selling by organizing competitions and rewarding winners with a tangible gift, never money or something consumable. Astute managers explain the importance of tips to servers. All additional sales increase tips, satisfy guests, and increase profits for the house.
This in turn guarantees that their jobs will exist for many years to come.
Suggestive selling is easy and can be practised by anyone willing to learn a few techniques and put them to work judiciously.
Making the right suggestion
Suggestive selling demands sensible recommendations that conform to guest’s needs. Young children need not be offered alcoholic beverages. A young couple on the other hand may appreciate a newly introduced dish from local fields, or an exciting wine from nearby vineyards.
Vegetarians may demand or ask for an ingredient to be omitted, or request something not on the menu but could be prepared from generally available vegetables.
Selling up is a proven technique to increase revenue and tips. A guest interested in a domestic beer may be easily persuaded to order an imported product.
Up selling makes the guest feel important.
Similarly, if a patron asks for gin and tonic an astute server suggests would you like a Gordon’s (a premium brand), or a Tanqueray No. 10 (a super premium brand).
Increases the average cheque
Making suggestions more interesting
Suggested foods must be described in a mouth-watering fashion. Homemade or fresh or delicious lasagna sells better than simply lasagna.
Guests respond favourably tot eh following descriptive words; fresh, home made, rich, creamy, delicious, home grown, from a famous region (i.e Oka Quebec, San Daniele ham, authentic Parmigiano reggiano, extra virgin Tuscan olive oil, sherry vinegar, basmati rice, Yukon Gold potatoes, Greek feta cheese just to name a few.
Related time selling
In a sense servers are in business for themselves. The more they sell the more they earn. Recently a friend was telling me that he went to restaurant with his wife intending to spend $ 100.00. In the end he ended up spending $ 125.00, as he could not resist the mouth-watering depictions and wine recommendations of the server.
Patrons want to be sold. If no suggestions are made they wills tick to the basics and spend as little as possible.
Related item selling is another way to increase sales. In a pizzeria a guest may be easily sold sautéed mushrooms or a side salad, or another topping.
In a steak house a refreshing salad can be sold with ease next to the steak.
“While your steak is being cooked you may wish to enjoy a delicious salad from our bar” works all the time.
Needless to say as a server you must be able to judge whether the people are prepared to spend. This is when amateur psychology comes in handy.
Beverage and dessert selling
Dessert selling represents one of the best opportunities to increase the cheque. How many times did you wish a server to ask whether you want desserts or a cup of coffee? The majority of patrons like to finish their meal with a cup of coffee or tea and an appealing dessert.
Specialty coffees like cappuccino or espresso, Spanish or Irish coffees are enticing and profitable.
Some coffees become fashionable and then fall off, but may return. It all depends on the market you are serving.
For those on a diet fruit salad is fine, of a small portion of cheese or carrot cake, or crème brulee or even a small portion of chocolate mousse.
After dinner drinks may be recommended to patrons on a diet.
Never forget to offer, and ask for the order.
Servers meet people from all walks of life.
Most have reasonable expectations. Some may have unreasonable expectations. Objections or refusal of suggested dishes or beverages will happen, and when they do astute servers deal with them quickly and diplomatically.
Here is one way of dealing with a complaint
Hear the guest our
Empathize with him/her
Resolve the problem
Thank the guest
A legitimate complaint must be handled delicately by apologizing and offering another dish.
Some guests complain all the time hoping to receive something extra.
The bets remedy to handle complaints is a “quality check” after guest have taken a few bites from the main course.
Some restaurants follow the policy of replacing the dish with no argument, other void the amount form the cheque, yet others offer a complimentary dessert or drink.
Successful servers are also good showmen. The majority of servers would qualify as “hash slingers” who perform almost as if they were robots grinding through a tedious routine
Guests are quick to notice such behaviour. Treat the restaurant floor as “stage”.
Restrained flamboyance on the part of a good server is noticed.
Flaming dishes attract attention, or salad preparation on tableside, or filleting a whole fish, or carving a leg of lamb, or T-bone steak or decanting an old, bottle of wine, or even any red wine.
Dealing with guest’s emotions
Be aware of guest’s emotions. A dejected feeling patron may cheer up after a cocktail. A family with restless child can be offered a toy or drawing book to divert the child’s attention.
Spilled drinks should be replaced without delay.
If foods are spilled inadvertently management must offer to pay for the cleaning and apologize profusely.
Know when to stop
Some guests prefer to spend as little as possible for a variety of reasons. If a few attempts to sell extras are rebuffed, stop and serve as if nothing happened, and as cheerfully and professionally as before.
Building a clientele
Restaurateurs must make every effort to cultivate and enlarge their clientele. Guests like to be recognized.
Try to obtain their birthday, address, or better yet email address, and send a card, or notices for promotions, new menu, or a new feature in your establishment.
Special requests for birthday caked or a special bottle of wine provided help build a loyal clientele.
Teamwork is crucial for success particularly in the hospitality business. Servers must make every effort to help out their fellow workers and even serve a drink in a pinch
Swamped servers need the help of their colleagues ad must be constantly reminded to do so without prompting.
In any business an employee’s responsibility is to safeguard his/her interest, that of the establishment and their clientele. The only reason any employee has a job is because of investment of the owner and his/her business acumen.
In a very real way employees determine each business’s future, as it goes, so goes their future.