food and beverage underground

Being a Great Waiter and Up Selling

In food and beverage, being a great waiter means not only taking great care of your guests but it also means perfecting the art of up selling.
What is up selling? It is bringing the customer up to a higher level, usually to a higher price value but you can raise them to a better quality as well. For our practices here we will be discussing the money, but you will certainly know how to use the quality aspect as well.

Know your products

To begin with you need to be very familiar with your products. Whether it is a menu item, liquor, or wine selection product knowledge is essential. A sin that you are on your way to being a great waiter. Once you have a firm grip on the products the rest is up to you! Part of being a great waiter is the ability to control your guests experience and guide them through an outstanding guest experience. Most diners want to be guided and helped and are usually more open to a, “great waiters”

waiter, server, waiter with tray
suggestions than you may think. Once you are able to gain this trust and comfort level you are in the perfect position to go for it!

You've Just Been Sat

A table of four just sat in your section and you, being a great waiter that you are, acknowledge them immediately go and help get them situated. You introduce yourself and ask if anyone would care for a cocktail. The guests order… two vodka and tonics and two glasses of merlot. You give a pleasant “thank you,” then you’re off to get the drinks. You, being a great waiter, return quickly and properly serve their drinks. Once the drinks are served you ask if they are ready to order, and they are, so you proceed around the table writing down every item meticulously. Reviewing the order you had two strip steaks, a flounder, and a chicken pasta. Being a great waiter you are, you check the table to see if anything is needed then promptly go and put in their order. The food is about to come out so you check back with the table to see if they need another round of drinks, which they do, so you get the drinks and head for the food. Once you serve the food you make sure everything is good before they begin and then you head off to your other work. After a few minutes you conscientiously check back to make sure everything is to their liking and after their acknowledgment you let them enjoy their meal for a little while longer before going back and checking about another round. Indeed, the cocktail drinkers decide on two more vodka tonics.

After all of the guests are finished with their meals you clear the table and ask it anyone would care for dessert. They respond no thank you so you quickly prepare their check and drop it for them. Being a great waiter that you are you pick it up as soon as you notice the checkbook closed and run their card. Without a second thought you read the name on the card and use it as you drop it back for them and politely thank them all for dining with you. As they leave you pick up the book and of course open it right away to see how they did you. Wow, $20 on $100, not too shabby.

Leaving Money On The Table

Well you did pretty well didn’t you? Well, yes and no. You did give the guests what they expected but you didn’t really wow them, but more importantly you left around $1,800 on that table this year. If you add up your 4 table section you left $7,200 sitting in your section unclaimed for a year. I see you checking
your pockets, I hear you saying, “What the hell are you talking about.” Well let me tell you what I’m talking about. First off when you first introduced yourself to the table and got everyone settled in you took the initial drink order, without hesitation your first comment should have been “what kind of vodka would you prefer? Grey Goose? Absolute? Stoli? Let the guest go and specify if they want the house brand (80% will usually pick one of the premium selections). Right off the bat and with no extra effort at all you just increased their check total by an average of some $6.00 for the 6 drinks they had. With the wine drinkers it should at least cross your lips to try to move them into a bottle to share which would have greater advantages in the check total as well, but with just two drinking and the cost of wine by the glass prices today I’ll let that one slide.

When you returned with the drinks instead of asking if they were ready to order you should have said something on the lines of “have you decided on a starter or appetizer I could get started for you while you decide on your entrees.” Not only does this put your guests in a more relaxed setting it usually will add at least a single appetizer order adding an additional $6.00 to the check total. Finally there is the opportunity you passed up on dessert. Instead of just asking if anyone would care for dessert come to the table with menus in hand, or even better a verbal presentation, and sell those desserts. Once the guests sees each other contemplating the decision at least one will go for it adding another $6.00 to the tab.

Taking Home The Cash

Let’s see what we ended up with $6.00 for the drinks, $6.00 for the app, and another $6.00 for a dessert. On the low side you have just added a whopping $18.00 to the check. What does that mean for you? That 20% tip you got on that $100 check would have put an extra $3.60 in your pocket. But that was just on that table. Say that table turns just twice a night, following the same system you would have added $7.20 for the night. Working 5 nights a week would put an additional $36.00 a week into your pocket. And over the course of the year, excluding the two weeks you’ll be taking off with the raise you just gave yourself that’s $1,800. Guess what? That’s in a one-table section. Being a great waiter is assuring your guests are taken care of, but being a great waiter also means bringing home the cash.

You need to realize how quickly these little tips will add up over the course of a year so start focusing on the tips and techniques that you will learn here to add those little extras to your checks. Being a great waiter doesn't happen over night but it will soon be second nature to you. It’s amazing to think how your next vacation could be funded by a simple line like “what kind of vodka would you prefer.”

Being A Great Waiter to Proper Service

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