Operations – You Can’t Sell Anybody Anything!

by Bob Oros

The harder you try to SELL the extra hot wings, the cheese sticks or the bigger pizza, the more resistance you build between you and your customer.  When someone places an order and your server or the person taking the order applies pressure to “up sell” the customer, the customer feels the pressure and most of the time backs off.  After the server or order taker fails a few times they get discouraged and usually quit trying.

So if you can’t “sell anything”, what is the answer to INCREASING CHECK SIZE?  Here is the key: people like to make their own decisions.

Here is a guaranteed way that can get customers to add something to their order, and your servers won’t mind doing it as long as you give them a three minute sales lesson about what their role really is.  Explain that they are not expected to SELL the customers more items, but they are expected to HELP THEIR CUSTOMERS MAKE GOOD DECISIONS.

This removes the stigma of seeing themselves as a PUSHY SALES PERSON and they instead see themselves as a MEAL CONSULTANT or perhaps a FOOD CONSULTANT.

For example: Let’s say a family of four entered your restaurant and they are looking over the menu.  Instead of saying something like, “Hi, my names is Mary and I am going to be your waitress tonight, would you like an appetizer?” or “Hi, my name is Mary and I am going to be your waitress tonight, what would you like to drink?” what is they said: “Hi, my name is Mary and I am here to help you make the prefect choice for your meal.  Do you mind if I give you a quick update about what most people have been ordering?”

What have they just done?  First, they got permission to help them make the perfect choice.  Second, customers will want to know what most people have been ordering.  Third, they are not SELLING, but rather offering to give their customers a NEWS update.  Fourth, they have put into play the fact that most people don’t make their own decisions and want to try what “other people” do.  Finally, they are giving their customers the option to say, “thanks, I appreciate it, but I am just going to have the Eggplant Parmesan.”  This ONE LINE has that much punch!

Once your server gets their permission, the customer is not being SOLD, they are being informed.  The customer is being INFORMED about the most popular appetizer, the great comments they are getting about the hot wings, the best-selling dessert and why so many people are crazy about it.

If you are not sure about the power of this concept, let’s try it on YOU.  Let’s say I am a sales person coming in through your back door.  I say, “Hi, I’m here to sell you chicken wings, how many boxes do you want?”  You may not NEED any chicken wings.  You may have bought chicken wings from someone else.  You may get upset because this pushy sales person is trying to SELL you something!  Let’s try the same technique on YOU and see if you would be more willing to listen and perhaps place an order.

“Hi, my name is Bob and I am here to help you make the perfect choice for some of the items you have on your menu.  Do you mind if I give you a quick update about what most people have been ordering and why?”  The “quick update” is NEWS!

The reason that people listen to the news and read the newspapers is because of the word “new” that’s buried in both of these items.  We find that everyone is interested in what’s new.  They want to know what’s happening now, who’s doing what, and why.  They want to know what’s unusual about it, or different about it.

If your server or order taker will make their presentation “newsworthy” they will be on their way to making the extra sale.  And it only has to be a quick update about your “new” menu item,  or most “popular menu items”, or “best selling desserts”.

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