The Ultimate Restaurant Training Sales Growth Guide (Part 2)

Jul 12, 2017 10:44:44 AM / by Larry Struckman

ultimate guide restaurant sales selling in zones.jpg

If you’ve read our previous posts The Ultimate Guide Part 1, you probably know that sales is the one thing that fixes everything.  Part 2 of this guide focuses on how to grow your sales and the strategies behind selling that are easy to master.

Of the hundreds of secret shoppers I have conductive over the past 15 years I can only count on 1 hand the amount of times the server was correctly trained and conducted a perfect dining experience.  Most of the time the server never makes a suggestion or ask me to buy something.  In my experience this is the kind of service that ultimately leads to the demise of a restaurant.

In this next post we will highlight the remaining phases for the Table Side Selling process. As you remember we were just about to leave the table to go an get the guests drinks.  Right before leaving we planted the seed about the two most popular appetizers.  “Before I go and get your drinks let me tell you about two of our most popular appetizers on the menu.”  

The Appetizer Phase

The server returns with drinks and asks:

  • “Would you like to try the ___ or the ___?”

Important step here:  Give the customer time to respond first before asking another question.  The silence you hear during this time is good silence.  If the server starts talking first before the customer has chosen the appetizer they could lose the sale.  Rather let the customer internalize the question and then respond.  There will most likely be 1 of 3 responses:

  • "Yes, bring me the ___." (one of your suggestions. Hooray)
  • "No, I am not interested in either." 
  • Or even better "No I am not interested in either of those, but bring me the ____ instead."

By giving the customer time to respond (and not talking after you ask the question) you are more likely to get response 1 or 3.  If they choose #2 should you be disappointed?  NO! Remember it is their dining experience and they get to chose.  Your servers job is to make suggestions and ask for the order.  Read that again.  You should only be disappointed if your server did not make a suggestion or follow up with asking for the order.  Leaving it up to the guest to ask for an appetizer will not get you extra sales.  
Finally, compliment the guest on there choice (“That is an excellent choice”) and plant the seed for the next phase before leaving the table.  

Next Step: Plant the seed before you leave! Knowing the next phase that is coming up, plant the seed with your guest and make a suggestion on one to two entree's per section (preferably ones with high profit and high popularity) before leaving the table. It looks like this: “Before I go and put in your appetizer order let me show you some of our most popular entree's on the menu.”

The Entree Phase

The server returns to the table and offers a minimum of two entree choices, plus add-ons. Add-ons can help build your check average and give the guest a better dining experience. Offer a side salad, steak topper, and any additional items your establishment may offer that will enhance the guest experience.

Next Step: Plant the seed before you leave! Knowing the next phase that is coming up, plant the seed with your guest and make a suggestion for a minimum of two desserts (preferably ones with high profit and high popularity) before leaving the table. It looks like this: “Before you get too full let me show you some of our most popular desserts on the menu.”  

The Dessert Phase

Once the guest is halfway through the menu, the server makes suggestions for dessert. Dropping by casually with a dessert tray or laying down a dessert card on the edge of the table is a great suggestive way to plant the seed for another round of food. Studies show 30% immediate increase in dessert sales when a dessert tray is used. Don’t miss this golden opportunity to wow guests!

Remember to keep the dessert tray clean and up to date for every table. If you serve ice cream, scoop a dish of shortening in the plate and top with a light sprinkle of cinnamon.  It will make the plate look good and will last longer throughout the night.

The After Dinner Phase

The check is presented. But remember, timing is key! If the server presents it before the end of dinner, it looks like you are rushing the customer. The server thanks guests for coming in, then offers directions to pay.  

Once the payment is collected, the server promptly returns to the table. This is the time the customer is evaluating the “service" and is in the final decision for the server’s tip, so coming back within three minutes or less is key.

The Welcome Back Phase

Last, the server thanks the customer for coming in then asks them them to return at another time.  Then, plant the seed for upcoming events (Rib Wednesday, $2 Tuesday, Live Music Friday or any other holiday or celebration) they may be interested in joining you for in the future.  Pro-tip:  use your name one last time before the guest leaves so the guest will remember you and tell them to ask for you next time they come in to dine.  

When Does Table Side Selling Strategy Not Work?

Table Side Selling doesn’t work when you skip a phase or abandoned it altogether. When staff gets slammed they think it is much quicker to move the process along and say “What can I get you to drink?”, “Are you ready to order?” or “Anything else I can get for you?” A server who does this literally serves a table with those three sentences.  

Doing this doesn’t set your restaurant apart from others. Service is one of the most important things in a restaurant. If your service is the same as the other restaurants, you haven’t differentiated yourself from the rest of the pack. As you can see in this Restaurant Training Sales Growth Guide the possibilities to grow your sales are endless if you can just make suggestions and ask for the order.

Customers want an experience. They have come to your restaurant not to look around, but to buy. Take the time to teach your staff how to make suggestions (sell) in a positive manner and you will reap the rewards for years to come.

Check out more blogs just like this one at 


Tags: Shift Management, Tips & Ideas

Larry Struckman

Written by Larry Struckman

Passionate about setting up systems and procedures that assure success, training, consulting, growing sales, strategic planning, creating "raving fan" customer service and just about anything related to food service. 25+ years in food and sales as well as growing hundreds of concepts with different operators (I have seen them all). I enjoy cooking, computer software, Taekwondo and spending time with my family. We started ShiftNote in 2007 to help organizations like yours create a better platform for shift-to-shift communication across their organization. Our purpose is to serve you with the best online digital logbook and employee scheduling software on the market so you can spend more time focusing on growing your business.

Subscribe to Email Updates

Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Topic

See all

Recent Posts