There’s a simple technique to increase sales that’s often overlooked by servers and even managers. Selling the second drink is not only a smart way to make more money serving, but it’s also good hospitality.
A lot of restaurants, not only franchises, have a solid training program and a script of sorts all serving staff has to go through. Called “steps of service”, all types of business in the service industry have them. Those steps are designed to improve profitability and ensure a standard, in this high turn over industry.
In real life, only a small percentage of tables will have the “complete experience”, meaning first drinks, appetizer, mains, a second drink with their main, dessert and an after meal beverage. Most of our patrons will have a food item and a drink, that’s even truer if you are in a business lunch scenario. Getting that second drink could mean an increase of 25%, on average, in your checks.
The key is being attentive and timing it right.
In a business or weekday lunch scenario, your tables will have to turn in 45 minutes or less. Generally, your patrons will have one hour for lunch, out of that hour 15 minutes will be traveling time between the office and your restaurant, so you have the remaining time to seat, serve and bill them.
First drinks are your number one priority when a table is seated. Get them quickly and be efficient with the food order. Now that the ball is rolling is the time for you to be attentive. Keep a sharp eye on drinks levels. Any glass with its level on the bottom third needs a refill. That is even more crucial if it happens before the food arrives or while they are eating.
We, humans, are conditioned to have a drink in front of us while eating. Even if we don’t actually drink from it, not having a beverage available makes us fidgety, like something is missing. Unconsciously we’re craving that refreshment.
When we’re hungry, our decision-making process is biased by instinct. It takes a couple of minutes for the brain to realize the body is nourished and to override the “need for food” command. Once we’re done eating, emotional decision-making subsides and gives way to logic. Timing that emotional response is the best way to ensure that second drink order.
As I have said before, it’s just good hospitality. Most of us have experienced the discomfort of having finished our drink halfway through the meal and the server is nowhere to be found. For some, the absence of a drink might even ruin the experience.
That moment though is the most opportune one to offer another drink and get a positive response. It shows you are aware and caring for your customer’s needs. When they reach those last two bites though, it may be too late. Timing is essential.
Be a better server and increase your sales by being attentive to your customers needs. Offering them a second drink or refill at the appropriate time will keep your tables happy and ensure they keep coming back.