Visions of sugar plums
Holidays are a time to dress up, wrap gifts with fancy bows, fix wonderful meals for family and friends, and treat ourselves to something special. When it comes to food, this usually means a splurge on desserts.
For some, it's simply the festivities and finery that define the holiday spirit. For others, it's all about sweetness. Desserts are rooted in cultural and religious tradition. Whatever the inspiration, they're a great chance to boost spirits, profits, average checks and server tips.
Here are some fundamentals for putting desserts to work this holiday season:
An ordinary dessert just isn't enough to tempt your holiday guests. Put a festive spin on your dessert offerings or come up with a new and special signature dessert for the holidays. There are many pre-prepped items available through your distributor. Ask your sales rep for suggestions for a profitable item to add to your dessert menu. Make the presentation special, too. Serve desserts on special plates, add holiday garnishes and re-write your menu descriptions to sound extra tantalizing.
People can't purchase unless they know what you're selling. Some straightforward merchandising techniques can add a festive flair to your decor and let guests know about the special treats you have to offer. Print dessert table tents on pre-printed holiday papers, or add a holiday twist to your existing menus. Consider using the ready-to-use designs available in "Think inside the box."
These also work great for stand-alone dessert menus presented at the end of the meal. Don't ask guests if they want dessert. Just present the dessert menus, and a dessert tray if possible, after the plates are cleared from the table. Just reading the tantalizing descriptions, seeing the scrumptious offerings, and being reminded that extra spoons are available for sharing often leads guests to find a little extra room for something sweet.
Food & beverage pairing
More after-dinner beverages, such as espresso drinks, brandies, or even hot tea, are sold when desserts are showcased. Beverages are very profitable. Create dessert and beverage "bundles," much in the same way that wine and food are paired together. For example, servers should recommend a cup of hot peppermint tea or a glass of port with your signature cheesecake. A glass of sparking champagne might complement the creme brulee perfectly. You can also add these suggestions to your dessert menu. Without a doubt, hot beverage orders will increase by 50%, and your average check will be impacted by at least 10%.
Training and encouraging servers to sell desserts and after-dinner beverages is probably the most important thing you can do. After all, they are the closest connection to your guests. Some prepared suggestive selling scripts are helpful and can be practiced during a pre-shift briefing. In addition to the higher tips they'll receive because of the add-on sales, incentives or contests can help focus your servers on selling those desserts. Offer a bonus, movie tickets, or even a dinner certificate to the server who sells the most desserts during a given time. Track the sales through your POS system or manually using the attached form. You'll immediately see a jump in sales... and profits.
Ready for some additional holiday-specific dessert sales and merchandising ideas? Keep reading.
Bill Main is a nationally-recognized author, consultant and speaker. His company, Bill Main & Associates, specializes in strategic growth plans for foodservice entrepreneurs. For information on how you can grow your top line revenues through innovative marketing, menu, leadership and training systems, visit www.billmain.com.