A guest post by Jordan Laporte
Whether we choose to admit this or not…servers are salespeople.
As waiters and waitresses; our job is to create and maintain our own clientele. We typically get paid a small base salary with opportunity for bonuses and commission (tips), we have our own territory to manage, have catalogue of products to offer at request and we are the face of the business. But what makes a great salesperson in the restaurant industry? Why do some servers average 20-25% commission on their sales while others are stuck in the 10 percentile bracket?
Next time you’re serving, consider these ideas from a selling perspective:
Value: People only spend money under one circumstance: when value exceeds the cost. Yes it’s customary to tip a waiter or waitress a certain percentage no matter what. But! People don’t dig deep in their wallet for no reason. Why are you worth an extra 5, 10 or 15 percent? When you’re serving, it’s your job to create as much value as you can within that short period of time you have with your guest. Start thinking of ways you can go above and beyond for your customer. Make it easy for them to justify spending more for their meal then what they initially budgeted, ultimately leaving you with fatter tip!
Commission/Tips: Look at your tips like commission. As a general rule: the greater the bill, the bigger the tip. So upsell! Anyone can take orders and punch them in to a computer, your job is to capitalize the best you can on every opportunity. You have little control over who visits the restaurant or what time they arrive, but once they take a seat in your section…it’s all you! Make suggestions, offer alternatives, recommend features. It doesn’t take much to turn a 50 dollar bill into a 60 or 70 dollar bill.
Return Customers: Most “regulars” tip more than an average guest. A guest will choose to revisit the same establishment more than once for a variety of reasons – overall because they were consistently happy with their experience. When serving, it’s important to take full responsibility for providing the best experience you can offer that guest. Always be on the lookout for ways to improve a guest’s visit and make them feel comfortable.
Attitude & Altitude: Attitude is everything. You can try to hide it with a smile or frown but guests can sense a positive or negative attitude from a table away. When you are serving it’s time to wake up and get excited. Leave any problems you may have at the door and dedicate your time there to providing the best service so you can make the most money. In addition to that, have the manager working (with the best attitude) come by your section and do table touches. Have him/her greet each of your tables and bring in some altitude with a second layer of certainty that your guests are happy.
The Sales Process: You know how this works. The chances are that you have been serving many more tables than a typical guest has ever visited a restaurant. Make their dining experience run as smoothly as possible. Remember, they are choosing to eat out for a reason; they don’t want the stress of planning a meal and cooking themselves!
A “Million Dollar Server”