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The power of suggestion

The power of suggestion

There is a fine line between cutting labor and stifling sales along with guest satisfaction. I would say that 80% of our consulting work is trying to help fix food and beverage operations that are failing. Ten percent of the time costs are the problem, but mostly the problem is sales. If you have a restaurant in your hotel, then you have little choice but to serve your guests. The level of the hotel drives the expectation of the level of the restaurant. Cutting staff — particularly servers — frequently is the wrong idea. 
 
Do the math. If servers sold one more glass of wine, a shared dessert or a starter to a table, that incremental sale all falls to the bottom line with the exception of the product cost (which, in most cases, is no more than 30%). I am always amazed at what just $2 or $3 more on a check average can do to the bottom line. This, multiplied by your guest count per night, then 365 days and about 70% assumed for profit above cost, can, in some cases, make the difference between profit and loss for the year.
 
The trick is training servers and bussers how to sell. I include bussers because, what is the fastest way to kill a sale? Ambitiously clearing too quickly or asking the dreaded question, “Are you through?” is like pouring cold water on the meal. Servers and bussers need to work together to understand the pace of a meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each meal has its own pace, and reading a table is as important a part of a server’s job as taking an order and remembering the specials.
 
The power of suggestion is a powerful thing. I have always found that the “ask” can be the best way to demonstrate how to sell. By the “ask,” I mean just that. As a manager, go to a table and suggestively sell something you love on the menu or wine list. Suggest a specific side dish, tantalize with just a taste of an after dinner wine, offer to split a dessert and see what can be done by simply utilizing the power of your menu combined with a little personality. Once your servers see how easy it is for you to do it, it becomes very difficult to say that it can’t be done.
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