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Encourage healthy competition among your servers

Last month, I talked about how adding an element of competition to your marketing could help you generate activity and increase engagement for your restaurant.

Responding to the article, one restaurant manager asked if similar tactics could be used to increase sales and performance among the restaurant staff. The answer is: yes, absolutely. Here’s how:

Two essential elements of sales success are trackability and accountability. As I say in my book, The Accidental Salesperson, everything we do in life is sales, so sales basics can be applied to everything we do in life. Each group in your restaurant should be able to track their activity and also be held accountable for the results.

As a manager, make sure you know the metrics of success for each of your groups. In other words, how many tables do you turn over in an hour? What is your average sale per table? How long does it take to get food cooked and delivered from the time the server puts the order into the system? Once you have established a baseline, work with your team on an internal competition to improve those numbers.

The key to this plan is not only posting an achievable goal based on past performance, but also giving them a reward for reaching that goal. The reward could be any number of things. It could be extra time off, a staff party or even gift cards.

When laying out any kind of competition or goal, it is important to incentivize the behavior you want. Here’s an example. Let’s say you know that on Thursday nights, the average sales per table is $42. You want to set a goal to improve that by 20 percent for the month of June. So, set a clear goal with an attractive carrot at the end of the stick: If the waitstaff can average $50 per table on Thursday nights throughout the month of June, then you’ll treat them to a staff party at the restaurant after work sometime in July.

The next step is to not only make sure you give them the tools to succeed, but also coach them on how they can improve those numbers. For example, after you lay out that goal, say to the team, “I know you can do it because in June we’re featuring five new margaritas and three new desserts for summer. Make sure to mention this to the guests when they sit down. The average cost of the margarita is $10, and the featured desserts are an average of $8, so if you can get some of your tables to get either a drink or dessert, you’ll be raising your per-table average.”

Remember to focus on trackability and accountability. Each week, track the results and make sure your staff is accountable for those results. Take a look at the numbers and coach them on how to improve. You’ll soon find that this competition will foster teamwork among the staff and they will end up helping each other to achieve the common goal. This, in turn, will result in improved efficiency throughout the restaurant.

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