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Buzztime - Business Bar Trivia by Buzztime

In the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin’s character motivates a real estate office by telling them first place in that month’s sales contest receives a car, with the runner-up getting a set of knives. And third place? “This place is you’re fired.”

It’s an extreme example, of course, but the fact remains the bar and restaurant industry is very much sales-driven. And since the stakes are high, each and every one of them matters to your bottom line. With plenty of variables outside of an owner or manager’s control to contend with, a restaurant should never be losing sales because of things it can control. Don’t lose out on sales for the wrong reasons – empower your staff with the skills they need to maximize profit.

Are you training staff members properly?

Above almost all other factors, the way to make certain you aren’t missing out on sales once a customer has walked through the doors is an impeccably prepared staff. The rest of the work you do managing your restaurant can be rendered almost moot if the customers aren’t interacting with knowledgeable employees.

Picture this: a hostess answers the phone after the manager has left for the day. What would happen at your restaurant?

Scenario #1:

Customer: Hi, I’d like to make a reservation for a group of 20 on Friday.

Hostess: My manager is in charge of taking reservations, but he isn’t available right now. Call back tomorrow before 5:00 p.m.

What if the customer doesn’t call back?

Scenario #2:

Customer: Hi, I’d like to make a reservation for a group of 20 on Friday.

Hostess: My manager is in charge of taking reservations, but he isn’t available right now. If you give me your name and phone number, I’ll give leave a message for him to call you tomorrow.

What if the hostess forgets to leave the message? What if the manager doesn’t return the call? What if customer can’t answer the phone?

Scenario #3:

Customer: Hi, I’d like to make a reservation for a group of 20 on Friday.

Hostess: Hi, I’d be happy to help you with that. Our back room is available for parties of 15 or more. What time would you like to reserve it?

Eliminate the what-ifs and maximize sales by training each employee to work as a waiter, bartender, receptionist, salesperson and customer service representative. Each person on staff should know how to take reservations, take carry out orders, book catering jobs and handle complaints.

Are you keeping staff members informed?

There are certain questions all staff should be able to answer in order to make the best sale possible. Have items been 86’d? Are there new drink specials or menu items? Do they know how your menu items taste, along with a few ingredient highlights? Don’t let this happen:


Customer: Do you have any drink specials today?

Waitress: I’m not sure. Let me check.

Customer: Oh no, that’s okay. Never mind.

The best way to ensure that team members are well-informed is to hold pre-shift meetings. Update all staff on changes to the menu, food and drink specials and new or updated policies.

Are you hiring the right people? 

There are some people who aren’t comfortable in a sales role. These are not the type of people you should be hiring, as all restaurant employees are essentially selling your menu items, your services and your brand at any given time.

It’s not always in your best interest to hire someone with the most experience. It’s important to remember the value in hiring someone with the right attitude, as skills can be perfected along the way.

Hire the type of people who will jump on all appropriate sales opportunities. Ask potential employees what they would do in this situation:


Customer (to another party member): I’m planning our holiday party. Do you know of any affordable caterers I can book on short notice?

Waitress: I couldn’t help but hear you mention you’re looking for a caterer. We are available to cater all sizes of events. Let me get you some information to take with you.

Hire the candidate who is always on their toes and ready to make a sale.

To conclude, we are all keenly aware there are factors impacting sales that are entirely outside an owner’s purview – economy, your location, etc. But the way you hire, train and maintain your current staff should never be the reason you see a dip in the bottom line.
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