How to Sell More Beverages; Waiter training (2)
The second in our series on waiter training focuses on beverages.
In our series on waiter and waitress training, stage two begins after you have seated your guests, read their style and mood, and delivered a warm sincere greeting.
Now, it’s time to move into the beverage sequence. Your restaurant’s beverage focus determines how and in what order drinks are offered. Is the spotlight on wine, cocktails, beer, or even nonalcoholic beverages? Your skilled knowledge with each category will determine whether you’ll enhance the guest’s experience or leave money on the table because you were unable to create a positive experience.
1. Remember the ground rules and set the stage for your guests.
Avoid yes/no questions such as, “May I start you off with a drink?” as it could result in, “Yes, I’ll have water with lemon,” a response no server wishes to hear.
Always offer a brand-name beverage. “In addition to complete cocktail service, we offer an excellent Belvedere Vodka Martini.” This helps guests visualize and sets the price level that you are encouraging them to aim for. But be prepared to offer alternatives if a head shakes or a mouth turns down, answer objections, and confidently discuss what you’re selling- “we shake the vodka martini over ice to make it extra cold, the Hendriks Gin martini we stir so as not to crush the delicate juniper flavour”.
2. Water is first up.
The instant guests are seated, they will probably want water. Some restaurateurs pour water, which discourages the sale of bottled water. Avoid questions such as, “Would you like bottled or tap?” and, “Would you like still or sparkling?” These non-specific yes/no questions again could lead to “No, I’ll just have tap,” response. Consider trying, “If you enjoy bottled water, we offer Acqua Panna still and San. Pellegrino sparkling.” Sure if guests ask for filtered tap water this can be served.
3. Don’t be an ‘auctioneer” if you have a range of beers.
Too often servers robotically rattle off a list of beers. Instead try “we offer a range of fresh premium beers our favourite is Tiger beer as it complements the chefs food best, but we also have Erdinger weiss on draft if you’re looking for something special… we also have Heineken, Guinness, Kilkenny, … Most will stop you before you get to the bottom of the list.
4. Add some theatre to cocktails, if your guests are in the mood.
Again, “May I start you off with something from the bar?” won’t assist you upsell your guests. How about talking about the bartender, and what their specialty is and why its so great? Mention high-recognition brands to encourage purchase. Such as “In addition to our full bar service, Mike from Sydney makes a fabulous Belvedere Vodka Martini; and his fruit cocktails have won awards in the Aussie championships.”
5. Try to Plant the wine seed.
Wine turns eaters into diners and it can inspire guests to order everything from entrees to desserts. But don’t just leave the wine list with them. Create some interest. For example “Ladies and gentlemen, our select wine list is composed of 40 wines. We have it organized by varietal, such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet, and Merlot. On the left, you’ll find whites along with sparkling wines and Champagnes. Reds are on the right. If you would like to start with a glass of white wine before the meal may I suggest our Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc which is citrusy, crisp, herbaceous, and dry. If your selecting a red, consider our Penfolds Cabernet/Merlot blend, which is full, spicy, and dry.” Often guests buy on the spot, if prompted offer a by the glass purchase, but not upfront, if a bottle is ordered it will be drunk.
6. And be up-market with nonalcoholic beverages.
Don’t forget that a Spiced tomato juice (virgin Mary) is a lot better than tap water with ice and lemon. Please name your sodas: “We offer Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite,” not, “We offer Coke products.” Don’t just say we have juice. Please be specific: “We offer freshly-squeezed orange, as well as cranberry, pineapple, and apple juices.”
7. Finally be on the lookout for signs of celebration.
“A bottle of Veuve Cliquot Champagne is a great way to kick off your festivities,” will add to your top line and lift up a special occasion.
Finding the beverage sweet-spot is one key to inspiring a great guest experience and will set the tone for ordering the meal. Be prepared with interesting facts to entertain and inform. Your strategies should suggest and inspire and not push. This foundation of a great experience will be both a big win for your guests and ultimately you.