The 3 Types of Food and Beverage Selling
Menu merchandising between server and customer is a complex skill and an art that is commonly misunderstood, hastily taught, and challenging to learn. Selling is a complex, not a simple, process. It’s tougher than a one dollar steak.
There are three common types of selling:
1) Suggestive selling, which means pro-actively recommending an item (“Would you like a glass of orange juice or a cup of coffee to start?”)
2) Upselling, which means suggesting a larger size (customer says “Yes, I’ll have an orange juice” and a smiling server replies “Large?”),
3) Situational selling, the preferred method of the three that combines menu merchandising, timing, logic and treating the customer the way the customer want to be treated.
In QSR or fast-casual operations, where time is money, suggestive selling or upselling may be reasonable. But in tableside restaurants and bars, situational selling is the only acceptable alternative for exceptional customer care. The key to repeat business in today’s foodservice arena is customizing the service experience for every customer depending on the situation.
In situational selling the server assesses the overall situation—factoring in daypart, wait list, customer time constraints, kitchen throughput, etc—and most importantly, what will make the customer happiest. In the case of tableside restaurants and bars, great servers don’t begin by suggesting drinks or appetizers. They begin by taking the “experience order” first; greeting the guest by asking questions to determine the kind of experience the guest is looking for and then customizing (or minimizing) suggestions to meet or exceed that expectation. It’s a challenging skill to teach and so it’s often left untaught.
When it comes to menu merchandising, perspective is critical. Your end goal is higher gross profit, and building a bigger average guest check is only one means to that end. Increasing customer traffic—and repeat business–is just as effective. After all, getting a guest to return one more time in the next 30 days increases the check average with that person 100% too, doesn’t it?
Which of the three methods identified above is most likely to generate repeat business (and likely increase the average spend as well?) It’s situational selling. So how do best train your servers and bartenders to understand and use situational selling? Teach them how to think instead of just telling them what to do.
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