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.

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