This week I spoke with Roger Beaudoin, who runs Restaurant Rockstars. Roger began his career almost 20 years ago, new to the pizza world, and with no experience. His turning point came when he was traveling across country and stopped at a wood-burning pizzeria in New Hampshire. He asked his server for a pizza recommendation and she told him, "I can't recommend anything to you because I don't eat here; it's too expensive." Such a simple comment, but one that could ruin a business when told to enough people. "That scared me when I heard it," says Beaudoin. "I never wanted that to happen in my business."
Beaudoin has been promoting staff training since his first day in the restaurant business and never looked back. He recently sold his seasonal restaurant (open only four months per year), which was making more than $1 million each season, to one of his employees. He says he owes it all to treating every table as a series of opportunities. "You have to maximize those opportunities, or you're losing money," says Beaudoin.
So what's the secret to building a million dollar business? Beaudoin says that there's nothing more important than being PROACTIVE and training your staff. "Too many owners and managers are busy being reactive instead of proactive," he says. "They spend their day putting out fires instead of using that time for short pre-shift meetings each day and formal trainings every two to three weeks."
Here are a few quick takeaways from the Restaurant Rockstars program that you can start using today.
- "Always give two or three choices to the customer instead of approaching them with a yes or no question," says Beaudoin. "You automatically increase your odds of selling when you ask them if they'd like apple pie or chocolate cake, instead of asking, 'Would you like dessert?'"
- "Servers should start each night with a game plan," says Beaudoin. "Have them choose their favorite appetizer, pizza and dessert, and for each table they serve that night, have them talk those items up."
- Show servers how to describe dishes so that customers will want to order them. Beaudoin calls it Theater of the Mind and says that anyone can be trained to describe foods in an enticing way.
- "Train servers to think of themselves as their own brand within the restaurant," says Beaudoin. "They each come up with their own bag of tricks or methods of selling more wine, desserts, appetizers, etc."
- Want to keep their attention in a training session? Beaudoin suggests taking $100 in small bills and putting them at the center of the table. Each time someone answers a question correctly, they get to take a bill. "You aren't losing $100, you're staff will end up bringing in much more money due to their new training," he says.
- Consider offering an incentive for sales. "I used to offer a floating $10 bill for selling more wine," says Beaudoin. "The first person to sell one bottle got the $10, then the person to sell two bottles took the $10 from them, etc. By the end of the night, everyone had much more than $10 in tips and sales and it was a fun competition."
What's your game plan for turning your staff into sales stars and reaching the million dollar mark?