To master the skills of selling and up-selling as a waiter is not an easy task.
To be able to sell something to anyone you need to earn his trust first!
As waiters, we don’t have much time to earn the guests’ trust so the first impression for us is crucial!
– Dress to impress – the guests judge by the look first!
– Smile and greet the guests with a positive attitude
– be confident and passionate when you talk about a product you want to sell
– be creative in your choice of words and your approach
1. The first thing we try to sell to the guests is the daily specials! ( ability to do so will increase your authority in front of management and the chef tremendously!)
– knowledge – learn everything about the specials in detail. If the guest sense that you don’t know what are you selling, you lose their trust!
– talk with confidence – it is better to test the product to be able to sell it with confidence but that is not the case with us every time. You know your chef and if you have confidence in him sell his special with the same confidence to the guests!
– bring sparkles to your eyes, be passionate about the specials and describe them in a personal way. For example:
“Oh, it’s totally amazing. Our Chef is from Perugia, Italy and he prides himself on doing everything authentic Italian!
“I will just tell you that our pizza Chef is called Gerardo Pizzi and he is from Napoli. Everything this guy is doing comes from the heart!”
-make sure that you can answer any question that the guests may ask about the food!
2. The second thing we could try and sell to the guests is aperitifs! – The easiest way here is if the management has thought about daily cocktails we can suggest and sell. If not we should ask the guests if they want a cocktail or a drink as we name a few of the best aperitifs we serve in the restaurant:
“- May I offer you a cocktail or a drink? Maybe a glass of prosecco, a glass of champagne, or would you like to start with a bottle of water?”
A lot of guests don’t know what they want to drink until they hear it from you. I have figured it out that a glass of prosecco is the most ordered drink once they hear you saying the name!
Don’t feel bad about selling drinks and being pushy! The people go out to eat, drink and have fun! We try to enhance their experience by giving them ideas and options they might not think about at the moment! …and the few other people…just don’t worry about them!
3. The third thing we are required to sell is appetizers, salads, or soups! – Here is where we have to be careful not to come as pushy! Not everyone can eat a three-course meal!
The best approach is to simply ask! If the guest orders directly main course we ask:
“- You are not having a salt or an appetizer?” – just to make sure we have not missed something.
Then when everyone has ordered the food and only one or two people from the party have ordered appetizers I apply a simple but effective trick. I tell the guests what is going to happen next!
“- So ladies and gentlemen I am going to first bring the appetizer for this gentleman, and after that, all the main courses will be served together! Is that fine with you?
50% of the time some of the people on the table will order an appetizer as well because they just realized that they have to wait while someone else is eating and they don’t want to!
Only once (in my entire career) the person with the appetizer has given up on it so the others don’t wait!
4. The fourth and probably most important thing we have to sell is wine! – A nice bottle of wine increases your check average and enhances your guests’ experience like nothing else!
To be able to sell wine you need knowledge! Learn the wine list in the restaurant very well!
Wine selling and up-selling as a waiter:
– Bring the wine list to the table but don’t suggest you help the guests make their choice! Some guests have better knowledge than us and some get offended that we think they are not capable of choosing their own wine! Here is what I exactly say:
“- Here is the wine list. We have some excellent local wines in there and of course some hidden Italian gems!” – This tells the guests that you know the wine list very well and you are ready to help them. Believe me, they want to find those excellent local wines or those Italian gems for their dinner! When the guests ask for your suggestions you can start with some of the best bottles you have on the list ( and most expensive) without really suggesting them and then move to lesser, more affordable wines:
-What would you suggest for us tonight?
-Well, I would love to suggest the Sassicaia 2006 which is one of the best wines ever made and we just happen to have a bottle of it here but if you are not looking for something so special I would suggest you try some of the local wines. What kind of wine do you like to drink?
Always acquire what is the guest’s preference before you really suggest a wine!
(Sign up for the wine class to learn more)
5. Selling dessert and coffee – those are very profitable items and the management loves to see we are selling them to increase the profit!
The best thing is to engage the guests when they are finished with their main course and you are cleaning the plates. Ask them if they are satisfied and let them know what an exceptional dessert is awaiting them next! Choose one dessert that you think is really world-class in your restaurant and concentrate on it. Talk about it with passion and excitement:
“-How was everything? Is everybody happy and satisfied?
“-Oh yes! It was wonderful!”
“Great! Nice to hear that because now it is getting even more wonderful once you try our world’s best Tiramisu! I have never eaten anything like that before and I love tiramisu!”
Then, no matter the guest’s decision you suggest espresso or cappuccino and mention that they could end the dinner with nice digestive by naming a few of them: Limoncello, Grappa and etc.
Dear college waiters, I as many of you in my young years wasn’t much inclined to push myself to this length trying to increase the sales and ultimately the profit of the company! Over the years though I realized that this is not just about the profit of the restaurant owners but it is a self-improving and self-satisfactory experience! Then you realize that the guests love this kind of dining experience too and not least important is how this impacts your income!
Selling today to 5 tables ( out of the many you will have ) 20 dollars more worth of food or drinks will increase your sales by 100 dollars and your own income by 20$!
If you do this on a consistent basis ( and you can believe me) you will end up the month with 500$ extra income and the year with 6000$!
That is why selling and up-selling as a waiter is one of the most important skills you have to learn. You tell me if you think that is worth the effort!
On top of that, you will have brought an extra revenue of 30 000$ to the restaurant and that counts in front of the management and for your perspective in the company!
Happy selling and up-selling as a waiter/waitress,
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