Train Staff to Upsell Appetizers: 5 Easy Techniques

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Your servers are your restaurant’s face to the world and what they do and say has as much of an impact on your reputation as your food. Taking the time to train them properly can pay you back tenfold in benefits with greater staff retention and customer satisfaction—not to mention the incremental profits you can gain from a team that’s motivated and trained in upselling.

At the beginning of a shift change, many establishments have some sort of “family meal” or staff meeting to go over the menu, learn the ingredients in menu items and try the daily specials. For casual dining and bar grill restaurants, this can also be a good time to run through the basics of upselling your high-profit categories like appetizers. Here are five easy things servers can do to get guests saying “yes” to a little something extra.

  1. Acknowledge the appetizer offering as soon as guests are seated—don’t wait until after you bring water or drinks. Guests are likely to be hungriest (and most receptive to suggestions) when they sit down.
  2. Train staff to avoid asking closed-ended questions that can end in a “no,”like “Would you like an appetizer?” Instead, train them to say “How about I get the table started with an order of mozzarella sticks and some dip?”
  3. Encourage staff to recommend their favorite appetizers.Guests’ value this personal interaction and are likely to take the advice of a helpful and personable server.
  4. For happy hour or late-night crowds, encourage staff to pay attention to what their guests are drinking.If you serve craft brews, have waitstaff suggest a beer-based appetizer pairing such as a plate of IPA beer battered fries.
  5. Finally, if a full-out appetizer sale is not in the cards, staff can still bump up the value of a sandwich or an entrée.Prompt them to suggest add-on sandwich toppers like onion rings or a scoop of cheese curds atop a salad as a premium “crouton.”

To find other appetizer upsell ideas and culinary inspiration, visit McCain® Foodservice here.

Content courtesy of McCain Foodservice

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