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Strategies for Transforming Waiters into Professional (Menu) Salespersons

One secret reason why some restaurants sell well and have high average revenue per head is that these restaurants’ waiters cheer for sales. It is a skill that the restaurants have to build. However, most SME restaurants overlook this issue and unexpectedly lose opportunities for boosting sales. Don’t forget that waiters are openers and closers of sales. If a restaurant has waiters who are skilled in cheering sales, that restaurant will have a high chance of increasing the average revenue per head from customers. One reason that prevents most SME restaurants from professionally increasing the effective of waiters is that these restaurants do not have customer service procedures.
What happens as a result is that employees can’t answer questions raised by customers. A customer might ask “What’s good at this restaurant?” and employees might say “Everything’s good”. Disappointingly, that’s equal to costing the restaurant the opportunity to boost sales from great and profitable menu items. This is the case for most restaurants. So if you want to transform regular waiters into restaurant salespersons, then the first thing that you have to do is returning back to basics and create standard operating procedures (SOPs). Create these operating procedures for customer service from the beginning of customer service up to the point when customers get up and leave. Describe the steps and actions that have to take place. Itemize them and record clear details for each action and how each action is to be carried out. Accordingly, there are eight main customer service procedures as follows:

8 Steps for Servicing Customers Who Visit the Restaurant

  1. Greeting.
  2. Recommending menu items/promotions.
  3. Order-taking/cheering sales.
  4. Serving.
  5. Table service.
  6. Accepting payment/change.
  7. Sending off customers.
  8. Arranging/cleaning tables.

These are the eight standard steps that restaurants should specify. Enter clear details on how each step is to be carried out, especially in the second and third steps, which are opportunities for boosting sales. In addition, the restaurant has to prepare information and lines for employees to speak. Importantly, training has to be available for every step, and employees have to be told which promotions or menu items to sell in particular each day. Provide these pieces of information to allow employees to practice cheering. Once all service procedures are created and training has taken place sufficiently for employees to understand all standard procedures, what entrepreneurs have to consider next is “What do employees get for doing these things?” This is a question that often pops up in employees’ minds, so use incentives to motivate employees. However, these incentives have to be based on sales information and not impact the restaurant’s returns.

For example, in a noodle restaurant, information shows that the restaurant’s sales of fried dumplings account for 10% of all customers at the restaurant. In this case, the entrepreneur could set the sales target for fried dumpling to 30% and see how much profit is left after cost is deducted from the additional 20%. Take that profit to create incentives. Or you can think about it this way, for example: 1 plate of fried dumplings cost 20 baht. As the cost per plate is 5 baht, the profit per plate of fried dumplings is 15 baht. So the entrepreneur might take 5 baht from the profit per plate and allocate that as incentives for employees whose sales meet targets. That’s because incentives have no strict rules and depend on what’s appropriate and whether or not they will motivate employees to strive for meeting sales targets.

Summary of the Steps for Transforming Waiters into Professional (Menu) Salespersons

  1. Create standard operating procedures.
  2. Train employees to understand each step.
  3. Hold a meeting before beginning work to provide information to employees about promotions and menu items to cheer for each day.
  4. Test employees or have them demonstrate.
  5. Create incentives to motivate employees.

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