The Lost Art Of Suggestive Selling

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This will be relevant by the end of the post.

“Subtlety is the art of saying what you think and getting out of the way before it is understood.” –Anonymous

We as a society have really lost the power of subtlety.  It could be because we have lost the patience to unravel it.  We receive far more information on a daily basis than our ancestors a hundred years ago could even process.  Most of this information is not subtle.  It is blasted at us with bells and whistles to get our attention.  The news channels do not just report the news, they also tell us what to think about it.  Movies no longer imply that a couple is about to “make whoopee”, they show us the scenes in the trailer.  In a few generations we have gone from Marilyn Monroe standing over a vent to Britney Spears getting out of a limousine.

With all of these changes, we have forgotten what it means to be “suggestive.”  This is particularly true in restaurants.  A few decades ago, corporate restaurants determined that they wanted their servers to be sales people.  The also determined that they had no interest in paying for the training necessary to actually accomplish this.  Instead, they decided to teach their servers to use adjectives and “suggestive selling.”  One of the first posts on this blog was declaring my disdain for the overuse of adjectives.  I recently realized that I never discussed my equal dislike for the corporate restaurant incarnation of “suggestive selling.”

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Leadership: Creating A Shared Goal

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Each person climbs the mountain for their own reason

“Leaders don’t force people to follow-they invite them on a journey.” -Charles S. Lauer

The fundamental question behind the desire to manage rather than lead is, “How can I get people to do what I want them to do if they do not want to do it?”  Failure to answer this question is what leads so many managers to lead by force and threat of force.  The answer to this question is simple.  You must create a vision for your staff, which allows them to achieve what they want by achieving what you want.  This is what I will refer to as a shared goal, vision, or sense of purpose.  I have discussed the idea of selling a sense of purpose in the past.  Today I want to go deeper into how to develop it.

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On A Good Night

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On the great nights

(Note: I am enjoying the final day of my mini vacation.  Having a great trip.  Met my favorite musician and a personal hero yesterday.  Today I will be taking the scenic drive through the Ozark hills of Central Missouri.  This is a post I wrote a couple months ago.  Not my standard fare, but I hope you all enjoy it.)

Some nights I just love waiting tables.  They are the nights where everything goes right.  The guests are congenial and friendly.  You make connections with your tables and they are happy.  They take your recommendations and commend you on them afterwards.  It almost doesn’t seem like work.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Memorizing Orders

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When I started my first serving job years ago I worked for a company I will affectionately refer to as “Five Four.”  That isn’t what it says on the signs out front, but it what we all called it.  My first day a manager who introduced himself as “CSV” told me that if I couldn’t figure out how to carry three plates at once by the end of the shift, I was fired.  I wasn’t sure if he was telling the truth, but I learned to carry three plates.  A couple days later I was training with a guy named “Timmy” who never wrote down his orders.  I asked him why and he said, “Only rookies write down orders.”

There are any number of managers who would read that last sentence and be horrified.  The thought of not writing down orders puts fear in the heart of managers who are responsible for the rise in food costs related to misrung food.  A former boss once put it this way; “I would rather have a stubby pencil than a sharp mind.”  The debate on whether or not to write down orders has pretty much been won by the side of managers who want to eliminate mistakes.  I do not disagree with them, but I also do not write down orders.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Supply, Demand, and Chicken Wings

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I only chose this picture because I heard she was an economist

Yesterday’s post on extra charges for the various items a guest requests caused me to ponder on a larger scale.  It is remarkably common to hear guests say, “I could buy that steak/wine/etc at the store for half that much.”  This is the same principle as walking into a car dealership and demanding a price based on the total price of the steel, glass, and plastic contained in the car.  In both cases, the price of production goes far beyond the cost of the raw materials.  Next week, I will be addressing in detail the difference between the actual cost of an item as simple as a burger and also the actual price of production.  When the cost of labor and overhead is factored in, a burger is far less profitable than the average consumer would imagine.

First, it is necessary to establish as a premise that food is a commodity.  A meal is comprised of many components each of which has a finite supply.  There are only so many acres of wheat or corn being produced.  There are also only so much beef, poultry, pork, and seafood being brought to market.  This means that supply is more of less the same and therefore demand is what determines the price restaurants pay.  The commodity we are all most familiar with is oil.  When demand for oil rises worldwide the price rises as well.  This is followed shortly by a rise in the price of gasoline.  We as consumers understand why this affects gas prices, but rarely do we relate it to restaurants.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

Foil To Go: The Shark

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It’s “Shark Week” from all indications. The time when a certain television network rolls out a weeks worth of shark related shows that everyone feels the need to watch and discuss over dinner at my restaurant.  Personally I would love to see the same principle used on “National Debt Week” or “Health Insurance Reform Week” or “We Are Still Fighting Two Wars Week.”  But I digress.  I guess sharks are more interesting.  Which is why this post is on foil sharks rather than foil preexisting conditions.

My post on the foil swan received a great deal of comments from people I have met that read the blog.  It is by no means the only foil animal I have done over the years.  Swans are pretty easy to make though.  I intended to make it a recurring feature of the blog.  Then my roommate used the last of the foil for cooking or something completely unimportant like that.  Well, a new roll has been procured and today I give you the foil shark.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

The Rules of Serving: Rule Five

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Rule Five: Always recommend what is in the guest’s best interest, not yours.

(Note: There are many hyperlinks today that will send you to posts were I have previously addressed specifically issues that I address in this post.)

This is the second time in two days I have sat down to write this post.  Yesterday, I got caught up in a tangent which I think serves as an important preface to this post.  It even inspired a comment immediately that proved its accuracy.  In the preface, I discuss how restaurant companies have encouraged servers to focus on upselling and thus significantly damaged the relationship between servers and their guests.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

Selling, Upselling, and Integrity

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I sat down today to write about rule five.  As I did so I realized that a preface was in order.  This morning I sat on my patio drinking coffee and reviewing the outline that I have scribbled on a legal pad. I began thinking about why this post was even necessary.  It should be common sense not to try to rip off your guests.  “Always recommend what is in the guest’s best interest, not yours” should go without saying.  Unfortunately, it directly contradicts what many servers are being encouraged to do.  So much so that even the guests know it.

I experienced this yesterday.  Waiting on a large group of teachers at lunch, I offered recommendations off the menu.  I suggested the sockeye salmon the chef was offering as his daily special.  I mentioned the flavor difference of wild caught salmon.  I discussed the life cycle, diet, and high levels of omega 3.  When I took the order, most of them chose my recommendation.  The last one looked up at me and said, “you are a great salesman, so I will have the salmon too.”  I was taken aback by this statement.  My description was more reminiscent of a teacher or a food critic than a salesman.  I did not use a “close” or try to appeal to their emotions.  I tried to sell them the best item by educating them and allowing them to make an informed decision.  My response to her was, “The difference is I will be here for the entire time you have the plate in front of you.  That is a guarantee no salesperson can make.”

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

How To Sell The Bottle

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There really is no greater subtle statement of status in a restaurant than having a great bottle of wine on your table.  The surrounding tables all take notice.  It is a declaration of class and announces to the dining room that you can afford the finer things in life.  It is a reward.  It is the stuff of memories.  It is romantic.  It is professional.  It tells the world you mean business.

It is also expensive.  It is no secret that restaurant’s markup on wine is often absurdly high.  While more expensive bottles have lower markup, they still can be intimidating to guests.  Guests want all of the perceptions in the first paragraph, but between the price, uncertainty about the wine list, and the amount of wine they may be fearful of the commitment.  This often times leads them to order only a glass at a time.  As a server, part of your job is to make people comfortable ordering what they want to order.  The guests want the bottle.  Your job is to make them comfortable with the purchase by addressing any of the three issues listed above that they might have.

There are two things you must know in order to make this work:

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

How To Sell More Desserts

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I suppose I should start this post by thanking all of the servers who are still reading after my six post series on management and motivation.  I know it is a server blog, but I also recognize that a large portion of my readership is comprised of managers.  I hope those who read it found it interesting.  I promise to stick to server information for the next few days.   Today I wanted to come up with a big payoff for those that stuck with me through the series.

Today is one of my most loyal readers birthdays.  I noticed this and decided to dedicate a post to her for her birthday.  Becky was the first person I met as a result of this blog.  This is actually her second mention in the blog.  As I thought about what to write about in her honor, a light bulb went off.  In honor of one of the sweetest people I know, a post about desserts is in order.  I can’t buy her a free dessert, but I can write a free post about one.  So for Becky, I am for the second time digging into the folder titled “book” and posting some previously written material on desserts.

Let’s be honest.  If chocolate, cheesecake, and apple pie were healthy, calorie free, and provided you with all your daily vitamins and minerals, would you ever eat a salad?  Most people like steaks, salads, and pastas, but they love dessert.  Yet most servers will sell far more entrees than desserts.  Your guests come to the table with a great number of expectations and beliefs.  One of the most common beliefs is that ordering dessert is gluttonous or wasteful.  While you should not try to change that belief, you can always take a shot at being an exception to it.

Selling desserts is about exploiting the contradiction between what the guest feels they should do and what they want to do.  Buying a dessert is an emotional decision rather than a logical one.  You have to make the dessert appeal to their senses.  You have to instill the belief that the pleasure they will receive will outweigh any guilt they may feel afterwards.

In order to capitalize on these emotions to sell desserts, keep in mind the following concepts.

Read the full post at Tips For Improving Your Tips

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