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  • Writer's picturePhilip Marchant

The Restaurant Road to recovery

This is a tough time for the hospitality industry, with many challenges from the pandemic and its restrictions combined with peoples fears. Staff being off sick and isolating. Staff deciding on alternative careers following the lockdowns and the uncertainty of future restrictions. Peoples lifestyle choices and eating habits changing. As well as the costs of both raw materials and energy going up dramatically. With the increases in minimum wage and the resignation culture and wages ship jumping going on.

As restaurants operating in this crazy environment. The emphasis must be on creating a safe and positive image of your venue. Improving, motivating, and rewarding staff. Building customers trust and confidence, rewarding loyalty and maximising customer spend.

Often seen as a sin, “upselling” is now a must in venues. Maximising every opportunity to create a revenue point, it can help you bring a unique atmosphere, create marketing opportunities, and enhance the customers experience in a hugely positive way.

Your staff making genuine suggestions that show they are knowledgeable about the menu and the offering you provide. You need to train and motivate your staff to be interested in providing a greatest service.

If done cleverly and correctly, by well trained, professional, and motivated staff, upselling enhances your customers experience, boosts revenue, and enhances your businesses profits.

Here are 5 tips to help smooth the process:

1. Your online presence:

It starts before your guests even leave their house, from them viewing your website with all relevant information including your menus, special offers, pictures of your customers enjoying themselves all clearly displayed and easy to find on both computers and mobiles in a professional and engaging design.

Your social media channels all updated at least daily with relevant offers, enticing foodporn pictures and pictures, behind the scenes videos etc.

And don’t forget the review sites like trip advisor, make sure to follow up and respond to all comments in a professional, honest and fun manner.

2. Standard operating Procedures:

All restaurants must have one. This details all the processes you do in your restaurant from menus, allergens, greetings, sitting customers, complaints procedures, ordering, cooking, recipes, presentation of both food and drinks, staff conduct, uniforms etc. It should also include all of your health and safety, food hygiene and legal forms to be completed.

Done correctly it will ease the training and development of your staff, enhance your guests experience, improve your reviews and reputation, increase your revenue and boost your profits.

3. The first contact:

Make sure your staff are well trained, in all areas from online or phone enquiries to in person conversations, do roleplay and provide scripts with frequently asked questions and answers to help your staff. Encourage and train your staff to be professional and enthusiastic at all times.

A great host will be able to make your guests feel at home straight away and even sow seeds of interest whilst sitting them.

Different customer demographics require individual approaches so staff can act livelier and more outgoing with a younger group, or friendly and funny with a young family, whereas a more reserved warmth may be required for more elderly customers.

Different approaches are also required depending on the time of day and occasion for your guests.

For example, a group of friends on a night out may like the idea of a cheeky cocktail jug or a sharing platter and of course that extra-large naughty dessert. Whereas a group of work colleagues out for lunch don’t have lots of time, so you should try to upsell quality dishes or push the daily specials.

4. Know your stuff!

All your staff need to know the menu and specials inside and out. To truly win over customers staff need first-hand knowledge of all your dishes and the best accompaniments their personal favourites as well as the most popular dishes and the highest profit margin items.

They need to have tasted and tried everything on your menu to offer a genuine and confident recommendation. If you are unsure about the best drinks to offer with your food, ask your suppliers to recommend pairings with beer, wines, cocktails, and soft drinks. A good supplier will be able to offer advice and many even offer staff training as this will also help them increase their sales.

Guests respond to enthusiasm and sincerity, as it makes them listen to their own emotions and are much more likely to treat themselves.

Customers are pack animals and like to follow what is popular. Popularity is a sign of quality and makes the person feel included in a wider sense of enjoyment.

Well trained staff can suggest drinks parings when customers are ordering food if properly informed. For example – “Medium rare fillet steak, oh we have a great red wine on offer this week called …… that is really popular that goes perfectly with that, or if you prefer a beer then ……. Is my personal favourite choice.”

Instead of asking “Any side orders?” encourage your staff to share their personal preferences such as “oh I like to order mozzarella dippers with my burger and pop a couple on top of the burger, it’s great when you bite in and the smooth melty cheesiness oozes over the beef!” it sounds so much better and builds a sincere and emotional connection to your guests

Great extras to upsell include:

  • Chips, even upgrade to cheesy chips or even fully loaded fries?

  • Garlic bread again upgrade to fully loaded garlic bread with Bacon and Cheese?

  • Salads – different mixes to go with different dishes?

  • Extra sauces including your house special secret recipe sauce?

Teach staff about what goes well with what type of meal, let them experiment and ensure they share their passion and experiences with the guests.

5. The Menu

The menu itself can be a great marketing tool. If laid out correctly and professionally, it can encourage guests to buy extra dishes including sides or even upgrade.

It is now more than ever vital to keep a critical eye on your stock levels and wastage. It is a great idea to reduce your menu size. Focus on your core items and make sure the quality is top notch, produce is fresh, seasonal, authentic and from local suppliers wherever possible. This will not only increase your quality but also support your local community. It can help with cashflow, reduce wastage and even reduce costs.

To help improve your customers experience you can pair dishes with drinks or sides as a suggestion. Why not offer a combo meal deal to help customers choose well paired dishes and drinks and increase spend? Include signature drinks and premium spirits in this offering.

Emotional provoking words in the descriptions are a powerful tool in increasing the customers experience and can be a great marketing tool. For example, instead of Apple Pie try – “Grandmas secret recipe apple pie” it sounds so much better and creates an emotional reaction in your customer leading to an enhanced experience and an emotional link in your guests memory.

Local produce is a must. From local beers and wines, locally reared meat or locally made sausages or burgers to locally caught fresh fish and locally grown vegetables and fruit.

Not only will you support your local community but also you have a lower stock holding, buy in smaller quantities to help improve cashflow, even pick up more if you are extra busy. This will also help in your marketing and can even jump on board with the suppliers local following and promotional and advertising.

These are just a few of the many things that can help your business not just survive but thrive!

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