Archive for the ‘suggestive selling’ Category

Upping that Average Check

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Every food professional knows that the primary way to increase revenues short of increasing the number of customers is by increasing the average check.  While this is important in all food service operation, it is particularly important in private clubs where each club has a finite number of members and cannot attract the wider audience of the general public.  But regardless of what type of food service operation you run, how does one go about upping the average check?

If you consider most menus, diners have a choice of appetizers, entrees, desserts, wines, and specialty alcoholic drinks.  Most go out to eat with a particular entrée in mind – “Honey, I’m hankering for a thick, juicy sirloin tonight,” or “Gosh, I’m dying for the chef’s veal shanks in a cabernet sauce.”  What they have not thought about, and will not think about until they sit at the table is – what might go well with their entrée?  Here is the opportunity to increase the average check!  The server can “sell” customers/guests/members on the idea that this or that accompaniment will add to their dining experience.

But as any rookie salesperson knows, “you can’t sell what you don’t know!”  Given that we hire bright, outgoing, but often young and inexperienced people to work as servers, how do we give them the necessary knowledge to upsell the chef’s offerings?  Further, recognize that food and beverage is an inexhaustible fount of knowledge not easily mastered in a lifetime of concerted learning.  While this presents a challenge, it is not insurmountable with a little organization and effort.  The following steps, if implemented and persistently practiced, are guaranteed to increase your revenues through higher check averages.

1.   Benchmarking

Break your revenue projections for food and beverage down into volume and average sale.  For example, if you know from history that your average check for dinner is $18.53, you can divide your projected revenue for dinner for a given period by the average check to see how many dinners you will have to sell.  If your budget is $50,000 for February, then you must sell 2,698 dinners to reach your goal.  You can further break down the goals into weekly or daily targets.  By benchmarking your appetizer, dessert, wine, and specialty drink sales, you can likewise determine the current average sale for each and compute a target figure for the number of each you must sell in a given period. If you’ve not previously benchmarked, your first few months’ targets may not be very accurate or realistic, but you can adjust them as you gain experience.

2.      Establish Realistic Goals and Track Results

Use your benchmark numbers to establish goals for future operating periods for appetizers, desserts, wines, and specialty drinks.  Post those goals prominently in the pantry or other central location for your servers to see.  Break your monthly goals for each category into daily goals.  Then challenge your servers to surpass those daily goals.  Every day post the previous day’s and the month-to-date results so each and every server can monitor their success or lack of success.

3.      Teach Servers to Upsell

Use your pre-shift meetings (you should always have a pre-shift meeting!) to continually train your servers about the food and beverage products you serve.  This means appetizer and dessert tastings and teaching them about wines, liqueurs, and spirits in general and those that you carry in particular.  Equipped with this knowledge they will be far more comfortable in suggesting accompaniments to members.  Exhort them to use their new knowledge to sell, sell, sell!

4.      Provide Servers with Product Knowledge

Use Menu Item Selling Sheets, HRI Form 484, and Wine Selling Sheets, HRI Form 485, to educate servers about all items on the menu.  These selling sheets should include ingredients; flavorings (herbs and spices); cooking times; portion sizes; special distinguishing characteristics such as vegetarian, organic, farm fresh, kosher, heart healthy; country or locale of origin; presence of dairy products or possible allergens such as peanut oil, shellfish, etc.; method of preparation (e.g., sautéed, pan fried, roasted, deep fried, etc.); types and preparations of sauces; and any other pertinent information of interest.  Lastly, the Chef should include his suggested wine accompaniment for appetizers, entrees, and desserts.

5.  Continue Tracking Daily Sales against Goals

Design contests or offer prizes to those who sell the most.

6.  Continue Benchmarking Your Sales

Not only is this historical data helpful in setting goals and projecting future business, but the detailed benchmarks you keep this year will help you budget your sales for next year.  Lastly, there will be a clear record of the progress you’ve made in increasing sales – certainly a nice thing to have when you meet with your supervisor at your next performance review.

Charles A. Coonradt, in his wonderful book, The Game of Work, explains how people will work incredibly hard for no compensation to lower their golf handicap or beat their best time in a 10k race or improve their bowling average.  The same desire to improve oneself or improve one’s performance can be demonstrated at work if people simply get measurable feedback on their performance in a timely manner.  The key to measurable feedback is knowing past performance – easily acquired in a business setting by benchmarking – and setting challenging goals for future performance.

Increasing your average check is one of the easiest things a manager can do to improve his Food and Beverage bottom line.  The additional revenue helps overcome the high fixed cost in food operations and will bring more margin to the bottom line.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

Upping Your Average Check

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Every food professional knows that the primary way to increase revenues short of increasing the number of customers is by increasing the average check.  While this is important in all food service operation, it is particularly important in private clubs where each club has a finite number of members and cannot attract the wider audience of the general public.  But regardless of what type of food service operation you run, how does one go about upping the average check?

If you consider most menus, diners have a choice of appetizers, entrees, desserts, wines, and specialty alcoholic drinks.  Most go out to eat with a particular entrée in mind – “Honey, I’m hankering for a thick, juicy sirloin tonight,” or “Gosh, I’m dying for the chef’s veal shanks in a cabernet sauce.”  What they have not thought about, and will not think about until they sit at the table is – what might go well with their entrée?  Here is the opportunity to increase the average check!  The server can “sell” customers/guests/members on the idea that this or that accompaniment will add to their dining experience.

But as any veteran salesperson knows, “you can’t sell what you don’t know!”  Given that we hire bright, outgoing, but often young and inexperienced people to work as servers, how do we give them the necessary knowledge to upsell the chef’s offerings?  Further, recognize that food and beverage is an inexhaustible fount of knowledge not easily mastered in a lifetime of concerted learning.  While this presents a challenge, it is not insurmountable with a little organization and effort.  The following steps, if implemented and persistently practiced, are guaranteed to increase your revenues through higher check averages.

1.   Benchmarking

Break your revenue projections for food and beverage down into volume and average sale.  For example, if you know from history that your average check for dinner is $18.53, you can divide your projected revenue for dinner for a given period by the average check to see how many dinners you will have to sell.  If your budget is $50,000 for February, then you must sell 2,698 dinners to reach your goal.  You can further break down the goals into weekly or daily targets.  By benchmarking your appetizer, dessert, wine, and specialty drink sales, you can likewise determine the current average sale for each and compute a target figure for the number of each you must sell in a given period. If you’ve not previously benchmarked, your first few months’ targets may not be very accurate or realistic, but you can adjust them as you gain experience.

2. Establish Realistic Goals and Track Results

Use your benchmark numbers to establish goals for future operating periods for appetizers, desserts, wines, and specialty drinks.  Post those goals prominently in the pantry or other central location for your servers to see.  Break your monthly goals for each category into daily goals.  Then challenge your servers to surpass those daily goals.  Every day post the previous day’s and the month-to-date results as shown in the following sample so each and every server can monitor their success or lack of success.

upsell-graphic-573x2851

3. Teach Servers to Upsell

Use your pre-shift meetings (you should always have a pre-shift meeting!) to continually train your servers about the food and beverage products you serve.  This means appetizer and dessert tastings and teaching them about wines, liqueurs, and spirits in general and those that you carry in particular.  Equipped with this knowledge they will be far more comfortable in suggesting accompaniments to members.  Encourage them to use their new knowledge to sell, sell, sell!

4. Provide Servers with Product Knowledge

Use Menu Item Selling Sheets, HRI Form 484, prepared by the Chef to educate servers about all items on the menu.  These selling sheets should include ingredients; flavorings (herbs and spices); cooking times; portion sizes; special distinguishing characteristics such as vegetarian, organic, farm fresh, kosher, heart healthy; country or locale of origin; presence of dairy products or possible allergens such as peanut oil, shellfish, etc.; method of preparation (e.g., sautéed, pan fried, roasted, deep fried, etc.); types and preparations of sauces; and any other pertinent information of interest.  Lastly, the Chef should include his suggested wine accompaniment for appetizers, entrees, and desserts.

5.  Continue Tracking Daily Sales against Goals

Design contests or offer prizes to those who sell the most.

6.  Continue Benchmarking Your Sales

Not only is this historical data helpful in setting goals and projecting future business, but the detailed benchmarks you keep this year will help you budget your sales for next year.  Lastly, there will be a clear record of the progress you’ve made in increasing sales – certainly a nice thing to have when you meet with your supervisor at your next performance review.

Charles A. Coonradt, in his wonderful book, The Game of Work, explains how people will work incredibly hard for no compensation to lower their golf handicap or beat their best time in a 10k race or improve their bowling average.  The same desire to improve oneself or improve one’s performance can be demonstrated at work if people simply get measurable feedback on their performance in a timely manner.  The key to measurable feedback is knowing past performance – easily acquired in a business setting by benchmarking – and setting challenging goals for future performance.

Increasing your average check is one of the easiest things a manager can do to improve his Food and Beverage bottom line.  The additional revenue helps overcome the high fixed cost in food operations and will bring more margin to the bottom line.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the hospitality industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers – those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hospitality hardworking  managers throughout the country and around the world.

Hospitality Resources International – Management Resources for the Hospitality Industry!

Suggestive Selling – Alcoholic Beverages

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Are your servers simply order takers?  What can you do to help them sell more?  The simple, yet highly effective way is to teach them to suggestive sell.  The more your service team knows about the club’s food and beverages, the better able they will be to make dining suggestions to members and guests.  Alcoholic beverages present a wide variety of upselling opportunities:

Know the Club’s Premium Brands. One of the easiest ways to increase the average check is to suggest premium brands of alcohol.  Not only must they know and correctly pronounce their names, but they should know what makes them special.  Things they need to know include: the age such as a 12-year old scotch or fine bourbon, proprietary flavorings as in single malt scotches or the 10 ingredients in Bombay Sapphire gin, or quality of production and distillation such as in Belvedere vodka’s being distilled four times.

Beers.  For many years, there was a great consolidation of local and regional breweries that resulted in a handful of dominant companies offering very similar products.  In recent years, though, there has been an explosion of small, niche breweries offering well-crafted, artisanal beers of unique tastes.  The more your servers know about beer varieties such as, stout, ales, lagers, and pilsners, and the specific brands you carry, either bottled or on tap, the better able they are to suggest a particular beer with a particular meal.  Often, a member or guest will ask what beers you carry.  This is the perfect opportunity to ask them whether they like a lightly flavored or more robust beer, and then suggest one of the club’s premium brands.  The key to success is knowledge.  Get more ideas by talking to your bartender, searching online for information, or buying any one of a number of recently published beer guides.

Wines.  Wines present an almost infinite body of knowledge to truly master, but servers can start with the basics such as grape varieties, countries and locales of origin, wine terminology, and common wine descriptors.  As with any other body of knowledge, start small, learn the basics, and learn something new every day or week.  In time they’ll be a fount of knowledge and wine information.

Wine Pairings.  Certain wines go best with different foods.  The basic rules are: Sparkling wine and Champagne – appetizers, wild game, caviar, roasted almonds, oysters, and fruit; Rosé wine – ham, turkey, sausages, and pork; White wine – seafood, poultry, shellfish, veal, cream sauces, mild cheeses, and light dishes such as salads; Medium-bodied red wine – pork, wild game, lamb, blackened fish or poultry, pâté, mild cheeses; Full-bodied red wine – steak, roast beef, blackened red meat, heavier dishes, cheeses from mild to sharp; Dessert wines – fruits, pastries, simple desserts; Dry sherry – appetizers and soups; Port and sweet sherry – after dinner and with cheeses.

Liqueurs. The terms cordial and liqueur are synonymous. There are many opportunities to upsell with liqueurs.  Cordials are alcoholic beverages prepared by mixing and redistilling various spirits (brandy, whiskey, rum, gin, or other spirits) with certain flavoring materials, such as fruits, flowers, herbs, seeds, barks, roots, peels, berries, juices, or other natural flavoring substances.  Cordials differ from all other spirits because they must contain at least 2½ % sugar by weight.   Most cordials contain up to 35% of a sweetening agent.  Liqueurs can be consumed straight up, “on the rocks,” diluted with water, mixed with sparkling water as a spritzer, or served over ice cream.  Make sure your team knows the major flavorings of each.  Here’s a free guide to the most common proprietary liqueurs.

Cognac, Brandies, Sipping Whiskeys, Ports.  All of these make superb after dinner drinks.  These are best suggested when it’s apparent that the diners are going to linger at the table over coffee or conversation.

Make sure your service team knows what brands you carry and have them learn as much as they can about each.  The more they learn, the more confident they’ll be to sell, and the higher your average check will be.

Excerpted from Food Service Management on the Go

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

Add                to Technorati Favorites

Dining Suggestive Selling Opportunities

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Dining offers many opportunities to make upsell suggestions as can be seen from the following list:

Beverages.  Offering beverages is the usual way to start a meal.  In addition to offering non-alcoholic beverages such as water, tea, lemonade, and sodas, many diners will want an alcoholic beverage, so be prepared to suggest a wine, beer, or cocktail.

Cocktails.  There are a host of creative cocktails for any taste and occasion.  The heyday of cocktails was in the Forties and Fifties, but these retro drinks are making a comeback.  Many times the person who would routinely order a Vodka and Tonic might be induced to try a refreshing Tom Collins, Sea Breeze, Banana Daiquiri, or other mixed drink.  Talk to your bartender about his or her suggestions.  Learn about a new cocktail each shift or week, and in no time you’ll have a large repertoire to suggest.

Wine by the Glass.  Many diners who wouldn’t want a full bottle of wine for either cost or consumption reasons, can easily be tempted to have a glass of wine.  In addition to house wines, many clubs will offer upscale or premium wines by the glass.  Make sure you’re familiar not only with what wines are available by the glass, but be able to entice members to try them by knowing about the wines, where they come from, what they go with, their flavorings and aromas, sweetness or dryness, and reputation for quality.

Appetizers.  Appetizers are a great way to start a meal, usually taking less time to prepare, allowing diners to snack on something while thinking about what entrée they want, and they go well with cocktails or other beverages.  As you’re taking drink orders, suggest appetizers to go with them.  Another great way to sell appetizers is to offer a medley or sample of several appetizers that the entire table can share with their drinks.

Soups and Salads. Most clubs will offer a variety of soups and salads, with light, refreshing ones in hot weather and more hearty offerings in the winter.  Many diners will opt for just a soup or salad or maybe a soup and salad combination.  Often, if your soup, salad, and dressing offerings are really creative, you can interest diners in a cup of soup or a salad by creative descriptors and your wholehearted recommendation.

Desserts.  Your club will offer a variety of desserts for those with a sweet tooth.  Like appetizers they are often shared.  Be prepared to tempt your diners with mouthwatering descriptors and don’t forget everyone’s often overlooked favorite – ice creams.

Liqueurs.  Club bars carry a wide assortment of liqueurs (cordials) that make wonderful after-dinner drinks.  Many are world-famous for their proprietary flavorings and recipes, and have been around for decades, even centuries.  They are great served neat, on the rocks, or even over a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Make a point of becoming familiar with these; just make sure you pronounce their names properly.

Cognac, Brandies, Ports make a great closing complement to a meal.  Again, familiarize yourself with those your club carries and be prepared to recommend them after dinner or with coffee service.

Espressos, Cappuccinos, Specialty Coffee Drinks.  Many clubs will  offer specialty coffees and after dinner drinks made with coffee.  Don’t hesitate to suggest these to those diners who want to linger at the table over conversation.

Sparkling Wines and Champagnes.  These wines are usually associated with celebratory occasions, so be aware if someone is celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or other occasion.

The keys in any effort to suggestively sell are product knowledge, menu familiarity, and creative enthusiasm.

Thanks and have a great day!

Ed Rehkopf

This weekly blog comments on and discusses the club industry and its challenges. From time to time, we will feature guest bloggers — those managers and industry experts who have something of interest to say to all of us. We also welcome feedback and comment upon the blog, hoping that it will become a useful sounding board for what’s on the minds of hardworking club managers throughout the country and around the world.

Club Resources International – Management Resources for Clubs!

Add                to Technorati Favorites