Our Business is Like Show Business

Image: Getty

The restaurant and bar business is like show business. Maybe not Hollywood style show business, exactly, but more like a great improv show where every performance is new and unpredictable. Your servers and bartenders are the stars of the show. Their job is to wow guests with exceptional service that creates positive word-of-mouth advertising. Back-of-house and support staff members are your crew. They make sure your stars have what they need to create an unforgettable performance. And you? You’re the head honcho – producer, director, financier, coach. Your team takes their cues from you.

Three Steps to a Show Stopping Performance

Step #1: Practice your lines.

Great actors rehearse, and your servers and bartenders should do the same. Focus your pre-shift training sessions on product knowledge and sales dialogue. Test your staff’s knowledge by throwing pop quizzes before each shift. Servers and bartenders should memorize specialty drink recipes and be able to name at least two call brands for each well liquor. If you serve food, your staff should be able to name a wine-by-the-glass or microbrew selection that goes with each menu item.

Step #2: Perfect your timing.

Just like in show business, timing is everything. This starts with your initial greeting. Whether guests belly up to the bar or sneak into a table in the back, they deserve to be acknowledged immediately and served promptly. How they’re treated early in their visit sets the tone for the rest of their experience, so make sure your staff gets it right. Your training should also focus on teaching servers to spot sales opportunities, like selling a second bottle of wine, recommending pitchers of beer, adding food items, and upselling from well to call brands. Having great timing not only improves the service your staff provides, it also increases sales and tips.

Step #3: Use your props.

Stars of the show never go on stage without their props. Sales props, that is. Sales props are tools servers and bartenders can use to reinforce their menu suggestions. Traditional props include table tents, promotional posters, menus, reader boards, and all your beer, wine, and specialty drink lists. These days, props might also include technology at the table, such as tablets that allow guests to explore your menu in a more interactive way. Whatever props you have at your restaurant or bar, make sure your staff is trained to use them effectively. Guests are more likely to buy when they have something to look at as an item is being described to them.

On with the Show

The three steps to a successful performance depends on consistent and effective leadership. Use games, role-plays, and incentives to help your staff master product knowledge, perfect their timing, and use their props. Reward staff members who excel, and coach those who need support. On with the show!

Learn much more from industry expert Jeff Kahler, founding principal at Ready Training Online (RTO), by attending his 2017 Nightclub & Bar Show presentation, "Prop Up Your Bar Sales." You're not going to want to miss this opportunity - register now!

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