Advice and tips

FIVE SERVING TIPS FOR WAITERS TO BECOME THE BEST

13 JUNE 2019

 

So, you’ve just scored a job as a server at a new restaurant, but it’s your first time waiting tables and you’re nervous about screwing up. Heading in to work the first day can definitely be a daunting experience, even if you’ve already gone through the restaurant’s training system. By following these server tips and tricks, however, you’ll be on your way to being a good waiter or waitress in no time at all.

Here are 5 serving tips for waiters new and old to make the most of their shift.

1. The customer is always right

The first rule of being a good server is to remember the customer is always right. This is a job for you, but an experience your diners are paying good money for. As such, if the food comes out not to their satisfaction, don’t try to argue. Instead be polite, immediately offer to take it back and get them something else and then tell your manager, who will usually come to the table and speak directly to the customer. This will also help ensure the likelihood you still receive a good tip at the end of the meal.

2. Be friendly but professional

Always be friendly with guests, but not too friendly. You don’t want to appear to be overly friendly as this will likely make your table feel uncomfortable. Instead, you want to come across as professional. Come up with a way of greeting your tables that slides off your tongue well (this is different for everyone) and stick with it when first talking to your customers.

Download Our Guide to Staff Management

3. Know the menu forward and backward

Expect for guests to ask questions about the restaurant menu, so as such you should know what you are serving. It’s also imperative to learn what dishes contain so you can speak with authority when asked about food allergy ingredients like gluten or peanuts, as well as whether a menu item is truly vegetarian or vegan.

4. Practice good hygiene

Showing up to work looking clean and spiffy is imperative. Make sure your fingernails are clean, your hair is out of your face and your uniform is free of wrinkles or kitchen odors from the last shift you worked. Also, refrain from drinking heavily the night before a shift. No one wants to smell your hangover when ordering dinner.

Upselling is imperative to increasing the entire bill, which also increases your tip. But the key is to do it without making it seem like you are upselling, which will quickly turn off your guests.

5. Always upsell, but not in an obnoxious way

Upselling is imperative to increasing the entire bill, which also increases your tip. But the key is to do it without making it seem like you are upselling, which will quickly turn off your guests. You can get a feel for people’s budgets often by whether or not they order drinks right away and how much they are drinking. If the drinks are flowing, for instance, and let’s say you’re working at a Mexican restaurant, then try selling a margarita with more expensive tequila. Asking if anyone wants coffee and dessert is another good upsell tactic. If the guests seem to know exactly what they want or are regulars, then don’t try to pitch them on extras as it could actually hurt your tip.

Advice and tips for Restaurants

3 RESTAURANT MENU PRICING TIPS TO INCREASE SALES

12 JUNE 2019

 


Pricing can be an issue for any business and that’s why restaurant owners and managers seek out menu pricing tips. When it comes to setting a price for your menu it’s important to get it right because too far to either end of the issue can leave your business hurting.

Food prices have been rising and it’s been putting pressure on restaurants. When the economy is struggling customers want lower prices and suppliers want higher prices. It’s not a good mix for the restaurant, but in order to stay in business the restaurant needs to do what it can to make the most profit while increasing sales.

Here are 3 menu pricing tips for your printed menu and your website menu to help you increase sales at your restaurant.

Menu Pricing Tips for Restaurants

If you have any additional tips be sure to share them in the comments.

1. Place the Price at the End of the Description

Great job here of putting the price after the description.

This is one of the old menu pricing tips used in upper scale restaurants, but it can be used by any restaurant or any business really. I’ve looked around in an attempt to find out where I heard about this pricing tip, but I can’t find the source so if you’re familiar please share the source.

Anyway, when you’re pricing an item on your menu make sure the title of the dish and the description are first. Place the price near the end of the description.

You do not want to hide the price because some people will scan the page for prices right away. What you’re doing is simply looking to sell people on the items on the menu before price becomes a factor. Someone might see a price of $25 and make a decision right away not to order, but if they read a tantalizing description then $25 might seem very reasonable.

Here’s an example:

Parmeson Crusted Tilapia

Fill your senses. The fish is flaky with a crispy parmeson and bread crumb crust. You’ll see steam rising off the plate and you’ll hear the cracking of the oils. Add a dash of home made tartar sauce and you’ll never look back. $20.

I won’t claim that to be the greatest description of all time, but the description is not bad and by the time you’re done reading you’re ready for some fish and the price seems reasonable. Someone might open the restaurant looking for all the dishes that are $15 or less, but by the time they read the title and the description they’ll understand the value for $20.

2. Take Advantage of the Bundle Method

Menu Pricing Tip: Use the Bundle Method to increase sales.

The bundle method is advantageous for both the customer and for you. Basically you take complementary items and you combine them to create a bundle of items that together sell for a lesser price than they would individually. You get more sales per customer and your customer is able to get a slight discount even though they’re actually spending more money overall.

Say a sports bar is hosting people for the big game this Sunday. Two big items on the menu are burgers and chili fries. These two items are ordered often, but usually not in together. Now, some people probably don’t want both, but others might simply not realize they can order both at the same time. When the option is not presented it’s not always obvious.

On the menu the sports bar can add a callout stating: “Burger: $9. Chilli Fries: $6. Burger & Chilli Fries: $12.”

That’s a pretty good deal.

Let’s say the sports bar is using the rule of thirds (see below) for these prices. The burger is $9 and food costs are $3 so there’s a basic profit of $6. The fries are $6 and the food costs are $2 so the basic profit is $4. The restaurant can either take those profits or they can combine things, which would have the burger and fries at $12 and the basic profit at $7.

You’re adding sales and profit because your customers are buying more items.

This is a basic example. Make sure you don’t cut prices too much. Hey, if it happens to be at the end of the night and you’re running high on something it’s okay to have your staff start to bundle things. You can either throw food out (no sales) or you can bundle.

3. Use Price Anchoring

This is an interesting one. Derek Halpern at Social Triggers covered it recently. Mint.com covered price anchoring also as they discussed it with iPads . Derek used it for businesses that sell services, but it can apply to restaurants too.

In the various sections of your menu (appetizers, dinners, desserts, drinks, etc.) include at least one high priced item to set the price anchor. Say you have a basic plain burger on your menu for $5. Now, say you also have five different types of burgers with a different topping like mushrooms or onions for $8. Some people might balk at the idea of paying $3 for a topping so they’ll just get the plain burger.

Now, add an option for all the toppings for $15. There will be a few customers that order it, but just having it on the menu will make the $8 option seem pretty good. And in the end you’re really not adding any extra inventory to your stock. You already have those mushrooms, onions and other ingredients.

That’s how you can use price anchoring to your advantage.

That Chicken Caesar really stands out at $21. The regular Caesar for $13 doesn’t seem bad at all.

Bonus Tip: Follow the Rule of Thirds

A few weeks or even months back I was watching  Restaurant: Impossible on The Food Network with Robert Irvine. I know the show is not the best representation of the restaurant industry in ways, but there was a point made about pricing I found interesting and universal for many businesses.

The tip from the host, Robert Irvine, was to triple the cost of the food to create the menu price. So you figure out the cost of the food and by tripling that number you’ll account for your other costs including profit.

Here is the basic formula.

Food Cost + Labor + Business Expenses including Profit = Menu Price

This formula is not exact. If you can get your margins higher you should. Customer demand comes into play as well, but this is a good basic rule when setting prices.

Businesses in a variety of industries use this formula as well. You can triple it or double it. Most businesses at least try to double or triple their money on anything they sell so it’s a good basic step for a restaurant as well.

Conclusion

Hopefully these menu pricing tips will help you increase sales for your restaurant. You should be able to take action with these and at least give them a try. Not every tip might work for your particular restaurant, but a couple might so give them a try.

And if you have any additional tips you have that would help your fellow restaurant managers please share them in the comments.

Advice and tips

A GUIDE TO BUILDING THE MOST EFFECTIVE RESTAURANT MENU

12 JUNE 2019

 

What You Need to Know About Creating a Restaurant Menu

A good menu is at the heart of every successful restaurant. It’s a showcase for the restaurant’s signature dishes and it reflects the theme, ambiance, and style of the establishment. Restaurant menus can be very formal—think limited menu items printed on heavy paper in a fancy font—or ultra casual, like daily specials written on a chalkboard.

Both get the job done but depend on the type of dining you offer but in either case, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind.

Before You Write a Restaurant Menu

Be sure you understand the link between the restaurant kitchen and the menu. The size and setup of your kitchen will directly impact the size and style of your menu. A smaller kitchen will obviously limit the variety of the dishes you can serve.

This isn’t to say that you can’t offer a wide number of items. Some tiny restaurant kitchens feature over 100 items on their menus. The secret is to cross-utilize many ingredients and to use only two or three different kitchen stations.

What to Avoid on a Restaurant Menu

You’ll want to avoid hard-to-read fonts or overly descriptive language. Both can make customers wonder if they’re actually ordering what they think they’re ordering. They might hesitate and select something else if they’re not sure, particularly if the initial item was a bit on the pricey side. 

Remember, your menu is a like your restaurant’s ambassador and you’ll want to put your best foot forward.

How to Price a Restaurant Menu

Understanding your food costs is vital to pricing any restaurant menu. You’ll want to make sure you’re making enough of a profit with your menu prices while remaining competitive with other restaurants in your area. You should also know when to use market price on your restaurant menu when you’re offering highly seasonal items like seafood, 

Special Occasion Menus

Many restaurants create different menus for special occasions. Busy holidays like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day are good times to consider offering a prix fixe menu. This type of menu limits the number of items available at a given time, and this makes it easier for the kitchen to turn out a large number of meals in a short span.

Even if it isn’t a holiday, a prix fixe menu also acts as a great promotion during slow times. Special two-for-one prix fixe menus or wine-tasting prix fixe menus are great restaurant promotions. They can get people through the door even—and especially—during tough economic times.

The Bottom Line 

Writing a restaurant menu can be a lot of fun, just like choosing a restaurant name. But be sure to temper your creative side with cost-effective ingredients, proper pricing, and easy-to-understand descriptions of what you’re offering.

And be ready to adapt. Maybe you thought an item would fly out of the kitchen but it isn’t that popular after all. Or perhaps the cost of a certain ingredient has sky-rocketed since you first drafted your menu. Don’t be afraid to add or change items periodically. It’s your restaurant, after all!

Advice and tips

5 WAYS TO DELIVER EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE AT YOUR RESTAURANT

12 JUNE 2019

 


Treat customers right, and they’ll come back to your restaurant again and again

As a restaurant owner, great customer service is essential to your success. How do you deliver excellent customer service at your restaurant? First, let’s define it: customer service is the assistance and advice you provide to your diners.

Customer service is equal parts communication and genuine attention to your diners. (tweet this) When guests visit your restaurant, you want them to feel welcome. When you treat them with care and respect while providing an excellent meal, they’ll come back to your restaurant again and again.

Satisfied customers are integral to your business model. According to a Harvard Business School study on Starbucks, customer satisfaction has a massive impact on your revenue. Regarding Starbucks, they found that the satisfied customer visits 4.3 times per month, spends $4.06 and is a customer for 4.4 years. They went on to find that the highly satisfied customer visits 7.2 times per month, spends $4.42 and is a customer for 8.3 years.

That’s great, but what happens when you have a dissatisfied customer? In a Customer Experience Report, researchers found that the #1 reason customers abandon a brand is due to poor quality and rude customer service. These items were cited 18% more often than slow or untimely service.

Combined, these two studies describe the importance of excellent customer service. They suggest that great customer service can make or break your restaurant. So, in this blog post, we’re going to discuss five ways to deliver excellent customer service at your restaurant.

1. Do It Right From the Start

While food quality is incredibly important, it is the experience diners have from the minute they walk in the door to the minute they exit that counts. Restaurants should remember to keep the customer’s needs at the forefront of every dining experience. Here are a few tips for accomplishing this:

Speak Appropriately

  • Greet your diners the minute they walk in the door.
  • Use respectful titles – sir, ma’am and miss work well.
  • Don’t interrupt.
  • Listen intently and pay attention to what they want.
  • Be thoroughly versed on your menu. Ask questions and repeat their orders to make sure you get it right.

Etiquette Matters

While the etiquette often depends on the restaurant type, proper etiquette may be maintained in pizza parlors as well as fine-dining restaurants.

  • Who do you serve first? If there’s a guest of honor, serve them. If not, begin with the women, then men, then children.
  • Serve and clear food from the diner’s left. If you have to reach in or interrupt, be polite.
  • Serve, pour and refill drinks from the right.
  • When serving food, have a system so you know which plates go to which diner. Don’t call out entrées if possible.
  • Never make diners feel like you want them to leave. The server’s tip is not more important than the diners’ comfort.
  • Don’t make your diners ask for the check. Clear plates, bring the check and process it in a timely manner.

2. Don’t Make Them Wait

If your diners have to wait too long for their first round of drinks, appetizer or meal, it really won’t matter to them that your bartender makes the best martini or the chef prepared the best steak. Your diner is already irritated and hungry.

You can call this the negative turning point. Remember that it can be hard to win back your disappointed customer. Avoid disappointing them at all costs. Make sure you have enough staff on hand so they never have to wait too long. If your diner orders a meal that takes a bit longer to cook, let them know in advance. Be forthcoming and informative.

You’ve probably heard the term speed of service. You might even have a speed of service goal built into your policies. Speed of service is vital to a good dining experience no matter your restaurant type. Your diners probably have expectations about how long they’ll have to wait. Serving tacos? They’ll expect those quickly. Serving steak? They may mentally grant you extra time to prepare it.

Your goal is to accommodate your diners with exactly the same quality food and service every day and at every time of day. (tweet this)

A happy customer is one whose problem was solved quickly and satisfactorily.

3. Fix Problems Immediately

Your third step in delivering excellent customer service is your finesse at dealing with customer problems and complaints. No matter how hard you try, something is going to go amiss some time or another. Whatever the problem, your goal is to please the customer.

It is vitally important that you deal with problems immediately. Don’t let your customer’s anger linger while waiting to work his way up the management chain. Here are a few tips for dealing with customer problems:

  • Listen intently to their problem without interrupting.
  • Own the mistake. Acknowledge that, yes, there is a problem. Let them know you are very sorry.
  • Stay calm, especially if you don’t agree with your customer.
  • Maintain eye contact and watch your body language. Make sure your body isn’t telling a different story than your words.
  • Ask your customer what they’d like. Try to negotiate a solution that is acceptable to both of you.
  • Always empathize, don’t blame.
  • Apologize again!
  • Solve the problem quickly and without drama.

4. Use Customer Comment Cards

Show your diners you value their opinion. Exceptionally effective restaurants want their customer’s opinions – the good, the bad and the in-between.

When you give them the opportunity to leave a comment, you show them that you care and are always looking for ways to improve your food and your service. Your customer’s comments can help you learn about areas that need improvement. The comments can also show you where you are excelling. You’ll see what your customers see and in the end be able to provide them even better service.

You’ll build better customer relationships and enhance your restaurant at the same time.

5. Incorporate Technology

Lastly, we’ll discuss an out-of-the-box way to deliver excellent customer service at your restaurant. Incorporating technology will, of course, depend on your restaurant type, but some form of technology can be worked into many restaurant business models.

Online Ordering

The ability to instantly order from your online menu provides easy access for your customers. It allows them to conveniently browse and then order from your menu. Oftentimes they’ll spend more money ordering online as they’ll be tempted to try more. You can use prominent calls to action to encourage a larger order.

Don’t forget the mobile-friendly responsive website. If your customer can’t order online with ease on their mobile phone, it’s time for a new website.

Table and/or Kiosk Ordering

Your casual dining customers will find this ordering system quick and easy. They’ll also appreciate the convenience and the speed.

Offer Free Wi-Fi

According to research from industry data and analysis firm Technomic Inc., 65% of consumers in 2014 expected restaurants in the quick-service segment to offer free access to Wi-Fi in their restaurants.

Games at the Table

Parents of young children are often exhausted after a long day at work. Give the parents a break while occupying their children. Consider handheld gaming devices at the table, a TV/media room for kids (and the old stand-by – coloring books).