Chapter 34: In Defense of Selling As a Server

To many servers, the idea of selling brings up many negative connotations.  They worry about being perceived as pushy or annoying their guests.  This often deters servers from doing anything that can be perceived as selling.  Servers will often limit their income out of fear of looking too much like a salesperson.  It also prevents them from giving their guests the best possible dining experience.  On the surface, this may seem contradictory.  Salespeople are thought of as pushy and annoying.  Images of someone trying relentlessly to trick you into buying something you do not want leap to mind.  Whether it is a door-to-door magazine salesperson or a telemarketer, the concept of a salesperson often conjures negative images.  This is based upon an inaccurate definition of sales.

Sales is nothing more than giving someone the logic necessary to make a decision that they want to make.  No amount of skill will allow a salesperson to sell someone something they do not want.  All selling does is provide someone the justification to buy something they want, but may be reluctant to buy normally.  Sales is not mind control or hypnosis.  It is the ability to provide information in a way that makes the item you are selling more attractive to your guest. 

Selling is a skill that is not inherently good or bad.  A doctor can sell a patient on the idea of having a surgery that will save their life.  A diplomat can sell two feuding leaders on the idea of ending a war.  A teacher can sell a struggling student on staying in school. A counselor can sell an addict on the idea of entering rehab.  Each of these sales shares a common trait.  The salesperson is advocating what is in the best interest of the person to whom they are selling. 

As a server, you will not be called upon to save many lives through sales.  However, you still have the opportunity to sell what is in the best interest of your guests.  You also have an inherent advantage.  The guest came into the restaurant because they want food, beverages, or both.  They are going to order something.  A great server understands that part of their job is to recommend what the guest is most likely to enjoy. 

If a close friend or family member came into your restaurant and asked what was good, you would offer them an honest answer.  You are far more knowledgeable about your restaurant’s menu and have probably tried more of the food than they have.  Failing to offer an honest opinion would be rude and inconsiderate.  You should offer the same courtesy to your guests who may not feel comfortable asking.  It is not pushy or annoying to treat your guests as you would a close friend or family member. 

The key to embracing sales as a server is to understand that you are doing what is in the guests’ best interest.  You are sharing your knowledge based on first-hand experience and the feedback of your other guests to someone who knows far less than you do.  Providing your expertise to a guest only furthers your credibility as a great server.  You should never be hesitant to recommend the items to a guest that you truly feel they will enjoy the most.  This is part of the service provided by a great server.

When you recommend what the guest is most likely to enjoy, you never have to feel guilty.  The sales skills you learn in this book are designed to help you help your guests have the best meal possible.  Selling as a server is about more than simply raising the guests’ check.  Remember that at the end of the meal, they determine how much to tip you regardless of the size of the check.  Selling items they will enjoy will not only make for a more enjoyable meal, but also a better result on the tip line.

This is an excerpt from Tips2:Tips For Improving Your Tips (c) 2011 by David Hayden All Rights Reserved