How To Sell More Desserts

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I suppose I should start this post by thanking all of the servers who are still reading after my six post series on management and motivation.  I know it is a server blog, but I also recognize that a large portion of my readership is comprised of managers.  I hope those who read it found it interesting.  I promise to stick to server information for the next few days.   Today I wanted to come up with a big payoff for those that stuck with me through the series.

Today is one of my most loyal readers birthdays.  I noticed this and decided to dedicate a post to her for her birthday.  Becky was the first person I met as a result of this blog.  This is actually her second mention in the blog.  As I thought about what to write about in her honor, a light bulb went off.  In honor of one of the sweetest people I know, a post about desserts is in order.  I can’t buy her a free dessert, but I can write a free post about one.  So for Becky, I am for the second time digging into the folder titled “book” and posting some previously written material on desserts.

Let’s be honest.  If chocolate, cheesecake, and apple pie were healthy, calorie free, and provided you with all your daily vitamins and minerals, would you ever eat a salad?  Most people like steaks, salads, and pastas, but they love dessert.  Yet most servers will sell far more entrees than desserts.  Your guests come to the table with a great number of expectations and beliefs.  One of the most common beliefs is that ordering dessert is gluttonous or wasteful.  While you should not try to change that belief, you can always take a shot at being an exception to it.

Selling desserts is about exploiting the contradiction between what the guest feels they should do and what they want to do.  Buying a dessert is an emotional decision rather than a logical one.  You have to make the dessert appeal to their senses.  You have to instill the belief that the pleasure they will receive will outweigh any guilt they may feel afterwards.

In order to capitalize on these emotions to sell desserts, keep in mind the following concepts.

Ambush and Assume: Once you have cleared the table following entrees, you have the opportunity to get their attention for your last pitch.  You want to bring any visuals of the desserts you have to the table.  Dessert trays and menus should be used as props, but the sale is made through your words.  Approach the table as if you are going to find out what desserts they want, not if they are going to have dessert.  This will overcome their first line of defense.  When you describe your favorite desserts, use as many sensory words as possible.  You should be painting a picture in their mind of not just the ingredients and appearance, but also the tastes and texture.  Your confidence and presentation must e strong enough to temporarily overwhelm their intellectual predispositions.

Dessert To Go: This is one of the most lucrative tips in this book.  Always look for and suggest opportunities to take dessert to go.  If a pair of young parents is out celebrating their anniversary, offer a piece of cake for the babysitter.  After a business dinner runs late, offer to box up the signature dessert to take to their spouse.  Even if a guest is full, a piece of piece of pie might hit the spot later.  Know what desserts travel well and don’t require refrigeration.  These sales take very little effort and time and can increase a check considerably.

Complete the Course: When a guest does order dessert, you have opened up a wide array of opportunities for additional sales.  If a guest is going to remain at your table while their dessert is being made and eaten, you need to take as many shots as possible to keep them spending money.  The easiest and most overlooked way to do this is to offer a coffee, cappuccino, espresso, or latte.  How about a shot in that drink?  Would they enjoy an after dinner drink or aperitif?  Would their dessert be better alamode?  Sales opportunities abound, look for them.

Selling desserts effectively requires a unique set of skills.  As you practice them, they should become second nature.  The casualness that you approach selling desserts with will get you past their instant rejection reaction. When you are past that, it all comes down to your descriptions and follow up.  The meal is not finished after entrees, and your tip should not be either.

Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips is the new book from the author of The Hospitality Formula Network.  It contains the 52 essential skills of the exceptional server.  This book teaches the philosophy to turn average service into an exceptional guest experience that will rapidly increase your tips.  This book shows how you can provide better customer service and dramatically improve your tips.  Enter the coupon code “squared” to receive 20% off your copy today.

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14 comments on “How To Sell More Desserts

  1. Becky on said:

    Sniff… That was really touching, David. Seriously, I’m honored. What a lovely birthday gift! Easily the unique one in the lot.

    You are kind to me and I don’t know that I deserve it, but I’ll accept it gladly!

    xoxo
    B

  2. Becky on said:

    Sniff… That was really touching, David. Seriously, I’m honored. What a lovely birthday gift! Easily the unique one in the lot.

    You are kind to me and I don’t know that I deserve it, but I’ll accept it gladly!

    xoxo
    B

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  5. Excellent advice! Love the tips on suggesting a piece of cake for the babysitter and other less obvious methods for dessert sales that even us veteran servers might miss. Great post! God bless.

  6. Excellent advice! Love the tips on suggesting a piece of cake for the babysitter and other less obvious methods for dessert sales that even us veteran servers might miss. Great post! God bless.

  7. teleburst on said:

    Almost as important is knowing when NOT to sell desserts. While it might be great to get an extra $30 in sales from dessert and coffee, the extra $6 in tip is cold comfort if you miss a turn of a table that might have brought you $20.

    When you are in churn and burn mode, it’s time to disconnect the auto-sales mode of your lizard brain. An extra 20 minutes of a table enjoying dessert can mean one less table turn if it happens at the wrong time. This isn’t a categorical imperative though – the loss of another table might very well give you a little breathing room while you’re hacking a head-high weeds with a psychic scythe so I’m not saying that you should NEVER sell desserts during the crush. But you should consider whether it’s counterproductive. Above all, the guest should be the ultimate consideration. While you might subtly insinuate that they might be a little too full to enjoy dessert, always accomodate the guest’s needs and desires.

    So, what’s the “wrong time” for dessert?

    1. About halfway through the rush. At the beginning of the rush, it doesn’t matter quite as much. You’re still going to turn that table. It’s hard to quantify whether you’ll get the third turn, so it’s danagerous to second-guess. However, about halfway through the rush at an restaurant that has ~2 hour table stays, another 20 minutes and definitely mean that you are losing your table right about the time that cuts are being made. Having said that, if you’re interested in getting cut early, this could be an advantage!

    2, The last table of the night. This is pretty obvious, but this is where waiters sometimes cross a line that they shouldn’t cross. A table that has gotten the best of service shouldn’t lose that at dessert time. Some waiters suddenly become transparent and lose any sense of subtlety, cunning and guile in guiding the guest. It’s part of our job that we get stuck with a table lingering over dessert at the end of the night. I suggest caution in being too obvious in the attempt to discourage dessert.

    Damn – here I’ve given away another post on my own blog . I might just adopt it at a future point…

  8. teleburst on said:

    Almost as important is knowing when NOT to sell desserts. While it might be great to get an extra $30 in sales from dessert and coffee, the extra $6 in tip is cold comfort if you miss a turn of a table that might have brought you $20.

    When you are in churn and burn mode, it’s time to disconnect the auto-sales mode of your lizard brain. An extra 20 minutes of a table enjoying dessert can mean one less table turn if it happens at the wrong time. This isn’t a categorical imperative though – the loss of another table might very well give you a little breathing room while you’re hacking a head-high weeds with a psychic scythe so I’m not saying that you should NEVER sell desserts during the crush. But you should consider whether it’s counterproductive. Above all, the guest should be the ultimate consideration. While you might subtly insinuate that they might be a little too full to enjoy dessert, always accomodate the guest’s needs and desires.

    So, what’s the “wrong time” for dessert?

    1. About halfway through the rush. At the beginning of the rush, it doesn’t matter quite as much. You’re still going to turn that table. It’s hard to quantify whether you’ll get the third turn, so it’s danagerous to second-guess. However, about halfway through the rush at an restaurant that has ~2 hour table stays, another 20 minutes and definitely mean that you are losing your table right about the time that cuts are being made. Having said that, if you’re interested in getting cut early, this could be an advantage!

    2, The last table of the night. This is pretty obvious, but this is where waiters sometimes cross a line that they shouldn’t cross. A table that has gotten the best of service shouldn’t lose that at dessert time. Some waiters suddenly become transparent and lose any sense of subtlety, cunning and guile in guiding the guest. It’s part of our job that we get stuck with a table lingering over dessert at the end of the night. I suggest caution in being too obvious in the attempt to discourage dessert.

    Damn – here I’ve given away another post on my own blog . I might just adopt it at a future point…

  9. Pingback: The Index « Tips on improving your Tips

  10. Pingback: The Index « Tips on improving your Tips

  11. I’m loving your blog… finally another server who thinks like me :o)
    I’ve been in the field for 10 years and I’m still looking for ways to improve my skills.

    Currently I’m working in a pub. I sell a lot of beer, but not desserts, so I challenge myself to see how many desserts I can sell :o). I loved your “take it home for later” I read last night. Today I sold one to go :o)

    Keep sharing because if it’s a good one, I WILL try it out!

    Cheers, G.

  12. I’m loving your blog… finally another server who thinks like me :o)
    I’ve been in the field for 10 years and I’m still looking for ways to improve my skills.

    Currently I’m working in a pub. I sell a lot of beer, but not desserts, so I challenge myself to see how many desserts I can sell :o). I loved your “take it home for later” I read last night. Today I sold one to go :o)

    Keep sharing because if it’s a good one, I WILL try it out!

    Cheers, G.

  13. Pingback: The Lost Art Of Suggestive Selling « Tips on improving your Tips

  14. Pingback: The Lost Art Of Suggestive Selling « Tips on improving your Tips

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