Four Things Your Restaurant Servers Can Do to Increase Sales

woman server in front of restaurant

Do you know how important the servers to your restaurant business are? Diners are going to rely on them to serve the food on time and do their every bidding (yes, some diners are like that). But as for the sales perspective, you need to depend on your servers’ skills in upselling.

What exactly is upselling? It’s the ability of the servers to persuade a customer to order more items from the menu without the customers feeling pressured to do so. The servers don’t push them to add more to their order, but the idea will be planted in their minds. This is the most effective technique to tempt customers to order more than they originally intended.

This is also the reason why restaurant businesses invest in the marketing and upselling skills of their servers. While the marketing department is responsible for attracting customers on social media, the servers have the upper hand in selling to those who already are there in the establishment.

Show Them What They’re Missing

Diners will be more encouraged when they see what they are missing rather than when they are told what they should be ordering. So what can the servers do? Restaurants can start using rolling food utility carts in their dining area. Servers can stack the cart with desserts, pastries, dim sum, appetizers, drinks, and any other items the restaurant offers. They will then wheel the cart around so that customers can see what they can buy right there and then. Sometimes, the idea that the chef still needs to prepare the dishes—meaning, they’d have to wait—is what’s stopping customers from ordering more, especially with desserts.

Describe Menu Items

The first opportunity to sell more to diners is once they are seated. They’ll most likely ask for a copy of the menu. By this time, the servers should start describing the cocktails and appetizers. Make sure they inform the customers first about drinks and appetizers because some skip these and go straight to main courses. This is the server’s chance to encourage the customers to try out a new cocktail even if they originally planned to just have water.

Unless the customers tell the servers that they’ll just call them when they are ready to order, the servers should be by the side of the table to answer questions the diners may have about some menu items. This is a tricky situation, especially for new servers, so make sure to only deploy experienced ones to the dining area.

women eating at a restaurant

Assume They Want Appetizers and Sides

The moment the servers hand the diners the menu, they should turn the page on the part of the appetizers. Most diners will want to jump straight to the main dishes, but they will also give servers the chance to describe the entrees. Make sure that your servers are well-versed in suggesting what soup or salad to order. They should describe the dishes as appetizing as they can.

There’s another opportunity for servers to sell sides and appetizers to diners. Even if they already rejected the notion the first time it was suggested, the servers can ask them if they’ll want sides with their main courses. Usually, the sides are just smaller servings of the appetizers. However, make sure the servers inform the customers about the extra charge for the sides. You wouldn’t want your diners to have a bill shock.

Suggest More Things to Try

The servers need to be aware of the tables assigned to them. They can start offering desserts and after-meal cocktails to the diners when they see them finishing their entrees. The servers don’t have to describe every dessert on the menu, but they have to point out the must-try options. If a dessert has been concocted specifically for the restaurant, inform the diners that they will not find the same item in any other menu.

This technique will work better for first-time customers. They’ll be eager to learn more about the menu items. Long-time patrons will likely have their favorites already since they’ve dined in the restaurant many times.

You will notice a spike in your sales when your servers know how to upsell to diners. If they have a good camaraderie with your customers, they can encourage them to try out new dishes. The trust between a diner and the servers is important in ensuring diners will order more than they plan to. And in case they don’t, the very least that will happen is for them to return in the future and become loyal customers.