I don´t want to end the year on a bad note, but here it is – The reason your bank account is slender, your pockets thin and your vendors a bit concerned about the amount of your outstanding bill may be because your team is not running on all cylinders. You may be as bad as the Detroit Lions. And, you may be the only one to blame.
Don´t take my word for it. The results are in. The 2005-2006 Mercantile Systems Restaurant Survey was recently made public and this past year was affected by rising gas prices and overall cost of living increases. In addition, server suggestive selling falls short of expectation in many instances.
The Mercantile Survey measured 18 different areas of operation for over 1200 participating restaurants. Many missed opportunities for improvement in nearly every category of suggestive selling.
Most restaurants, Mercantile found, had plenty of room for improvement.
— Less than 45 percent of the servers surveyed offered appetizers.
— Only 35 percent suggested beverages such as wine, cocktails or soft drinks.
— Almost two-thirds of the servers surveyed did not suggest dessert.
— Less than a quarter of the bartenders or servers suggested a beverage by name or attempted an up-sell to a premium brand.
The results are disappointing at best. There is light, however, at the end of the tunnel. With more attentive training, a disciplined pre-shift meeting, along with the implementation of contests, incentives, and other perks to keep your team focused, you can increase sales and bring higher profits to the bottom line.
We all want professional servers, but we must remember that a server is a sales person who happens to deliver what they sell. They work on commission for the most part. Yes, breaking it down to these fundamentals does sting slightly; however, a fact is a fact.
Douglas, whose tenure I periodically enjoyed while in Carmel,was my one waiter from hell at The Fish Ranch. He knew everything about everything. He marched to his own drummer and he seldom did side work. But he could sell. The renegade salesperson dressed in a white shirt and tie. Three lobsters left- at $49.00 a shot- tell Daniel- they´d be gone. Expense cocktails after dinner on the hook at the bar- they were Doug’s- attack of the Pink Squirrels surrounded those nice folks from Wisconsin. Grasshoppers around for the people from Green Bay. Daniel was working.
I eventually had to dismiss Daniel from the team because he had, at times, the demeanor of a star. He did not accept diplomatic reprimand well, and reacted even less cordially to undiplomatic reprimand. Often, he wore his achievements on his sleeve along with a slight chip on his shoulder- but he could sell.
The Mercantile Survey revealed that customers are interested in suggestive selling. The dining experience is just that, and customers often need a guide to help them through the adventure.
According to Dan Cosgrove, Mercantile´s CEO, "Managers often rationalize their restaurants lack of suggestive selling by saying they don´t want guests to feel pressured, but the reality is that a typical diner expects suggestions and walks away less satisfied if he doesn´t receive them."
There is a fine line between pressure and suggestion and that is the art of the sale.
As we turn the page on 2006 selling will be the savior in 2007. Your ambiance is comfortable, your food is consistent, your drinks are strong, but your profit margins and bottom line are weak. The answer is simple- sell more, acquire a taste for creativity, and bring your service standards up a notch and your profit will follow.