Three Ways to Describe Dishes

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One of the biggest stumbling blocks to servers when trying to make the jump from casual dining to nicer restaurants is describing nightly specials.  Learning to describe the dish in a way that makes it sound appealing without tasting or possibly even seeing the item can be difficult.  Many restaurants offer multiple specials on any given evening, which only serves to make it more complex.  Add to that the limited amount of time you have to learn it before your first table and you have a very stressful situation. It is imperative that you have a system in place to learn and recite information about the items you offer in a way that makes them appealing to the guest.

We have already discussed the importance of offering a recommendation and what words to use in it.   The skills discussed here are particularly relevant to servers who have to recite specials nightly, but can be employed by all servers.  When you offer a recommendation off the menu, you need to be prepared to describe the food in greater detail than the menu provides.  Describing food, whether it is on the menu or a nightly special, must be done in a way that makes the food appeal to the guest and paints a mental picture for them.  Ideally you want to create a mental picture of the entrée in their head while describing the flavors that make it exceptional.

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Using Words That Sell

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In nearly every training manual, at nearly every restaurant, there is a section on using adjectives to sell.  This is often the extent of the sales training in them.  They encourage you to use words like “awesome” and “incredible” to sell the food to guests.  The authors of the manuals picture an army of servers bounding to the tables talking about how “awesome” the nachos are or the “incredible” margaritas.  They envision the guests will be overcome with curiosity and order these items in droves.   The new server fresh out of training goes to the table confident in this finely tuned sales pitch, only to be met with an eye role from the guests.  Discouraged, they decide eventually to just take the order.

The idea of using words to sell is important, but most companies do not take the effort to adequately explain how to do it.  This leads to poorly crafted and obvious sales pitches that are more likely to alienate a customer than convince them to buy.  The use of generic adjectives like “awesome” or “incredible” is so overdone that it can actually put guests on the defensive.  It can create an adversarial relationship with the guest that is the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.  The key to avoiding this is to use words that inform guests, paint a picture, and emphasize qualities they are looking for in their meal.

Here are some guidelines to think about when selecting your words:

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