|Staff from Sea Pines CC were able to increase lunch and dinner sales by 5.5% in the last two months.|
The recession may be putting a stranglehold on the economy, but at Sea Pines Country Club in Hilton Head, S.C., staff members are determined not to let it kill the bottom line.
“We noticed a decline in private party and banquet business,” says Robert Parody, Director of Food and Beverage. “So, to help offset the loss in other revenue areas of food and beverage, we decided to commission the dining room staff to increase sales by three percent, by incorporating more creative selling strategies into each member interaction.”
Selling more during service is an admirable-if not fundamental-goal, increasing both tips and sales. But how did Sea Pines’ front-of-the-house staff turn up the heat without appearing greedy or aggressive?
“Every experience has to be authentic,” says Parody, who taught employees to read the cues from members, making sure they knew they were not just order-takers. “No matter how brief the transaction, it should be customized to the extent possible. We have staff members share member preferences and tastes with one another, so they can recommend dishes or wines that would be suitable. We trained them to suggestively sell the chef’s specials that are at a higher price point than the standard menu items. We even have them upsell from an iced tea to either a Bloody Mary or a mimosa for lunch.”
So far, the strategy seems to be working. Sea Pines has increased lunch and dinner sales by 5.5% in the last two months and, according to Parody, this is the club’s slow season.
“This initiative has given the staff more confidence, and they can see it in the tip pool,” he says.
Looking to give servers even more budget-friendly dining options to sell, Sea Pines has added a new, lower-priced tapas-style menu and petite-sized salads to the lineup.
“It’s a necessity in this economic environment, plus it keeps the staff focused,” says Parody. “Too often they’re asked to say the same old lines all the time when circumstances warrant a different kind of interaction. This initiative has resulted in far more engaging performances from servers, and everyone seems to be enjoying the results.”
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