August is notoriously a slow month in the restaurant business. People are on vacation and spending more time grilling out in their own backyards. While there are ways to try and increase traffic to your restaurant, you can also adopt the strategy of working to get the most out of the customers who do stop by. Training your staff to upsell items is an easy way to drive up the check average and increase sales during slow periods. With a little training, your team can become experts salespeople, which will also translate into bigger tips for them.
Here are some tried and true tips to help your crew successfully promote high profit menu items at your restaurant:
1. Make sure that the staff is promoting high profit menu items. There are probably some people on your waitstaff that absolutely hate when customers ask, "What's your favorite dish on the menu?" While this might be an annoying question, it is also an opportunity to sell. Waitstaff can recommend more high profit dishes and talk them up as their personal favorites.
2. Help your staff with developing a script for describing dishes. No matter how detailed and descriptive your menu is, customers are going to ask questions. This presents another opportunity to upsell more high profit items. Work with staff to develop descriptive phrases so that they are prepared with great answers. Even a standard chicken sandwich can be transformed into a tender and juicy chicken breast that has been marinated for hours and placed on a fresh and lightly toasted ciabatta bun. The more "product knowledge" your employees have, the easier it will be to upsell and increase check totals.
3. Have your staff recommend pairings. Once a table has placed their initial order, make sure to suggest appetizers or drinks that pair well with the entrees they ordered. Not only does this help upsell menu items, it also helps customers feel like they are having a more sophisticated dining experience.
4. Work on timing. A successful upsell will seem like an organic part of the conversation and a personal recommendation from the staff. If you open with an upsell, it can come across as pushy and be a big turn-off to customers. Instead of forcing the upsell, train your staff to be good listeners and wait for the right moment to include their pitch.
For example, suggestive selling desserts is all about timing. If you wait too long to offer the dessert menu, guests are already itching to get their check and leave. On the other hand, if you mention dessert as soon as they finish their main meal, they are too full to think about more food. Simply working on timing can make a significant difference in how successful your suggestive selling efforts are.
5. Train the staff to offer top-shelf liquors. When a customer orders a vodka soda, the staff should be in the habit of immediately responding by asking, "Grey Goose, Kettle One, Svedka?" In most cases, the customer will choose one of the top-shelf options that were mentioned rather than going with the less expensive house brand. This simple technique can drive liquor sales and increase revenue during the summer slump.
The summer months are always going to be slow, but there are some sales methods you can use to increase revenue and make sure that the customers who do walk through your door are spending their fair share. Arm your staff with the right training and see for yourself what a difference wording and timing can make when it comes to sales.