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Service Tips From the Inside

By Paul Paz

Here are some of my tips for servers.

Beverage Sales

What does it mean to operator and staff revenues to promote beverage sales? If a professional waiter sold three $20 bottles of wine a week that's $3,120 more annual revenue for both. For the waiter the potential 20% gratuity would equal a seven-day cruise to Mexico. And it would only take about 7.5 hours a year for the professional waiter to offer and present the wines!

Useful Sales Techniques and Scripting

Offer regional products! In my Pacific Northwest region both locals and visitors alike seek the Northwest experience via local destinations, food and beverage products (also referred to as culinary tourism). What’s features in your part of the world?

Say to your customer, "You need to try some northwest beers like Rogue's award winning Dead Guy Ale. For a non-alcoholic option how about Thomas Kemper’s Root Beer or Cream Soda (it’s sweetened with honey instead of sugar)!

How about urging a customer by saying, "You need to try….!" The reason is customers will ask why they "need to" which creates an opportunity for a merchandising description.

A subtle nudge to favorably consider a second cocktail is to place a fresh beverage napkin in front of the customer while inviting, "Would you like another Crater Lake Hazelnut Espresso Vodka martini?"

From the book, Service That Sells (PenCom) nod your head in the "yes" motion when offering refills on beverages. This behavior is duplicated exactly (and naturally) when entertaining at home and your guests mimic this nod which prompts a favorable response to the invitation for more.

Here are some ideas to streamline delivery, enhance your service quality and increase sales/tips (includes some excerpts from Paz's co-authored book, Service and Its Best (Prentice-Hall Publishers).

Tray Service & Glassware

Balancing glassware: cluster glassware and bottles on a beverage tray so they touch, as it will stabilize the balance as you move through a crowd. Place glasses on the tray first instead of on the counter. Transferring the glasses on a counter to the tray after icing is far too many extra steps. With a large ice-scoop you can ice three or more glasses at once verses filling one glass at a time. Is the tray clean? Do not pick up dirty glassware by the mouth/rim of the glass as you can get "cooties"! Wash your hands frequently.


Is the glassware clean? Is the beer served at the proper temperature and is the glass the same (tepid or chilled)? Flat beer is not going to refresh by stirring it briskly with a straw before you present it. Just draw a fresh draft!


Perceived value: How do you present a single glass of wine with style and panache (especially if it is high-end)? Hold it at the edge of the base with your thumb and forefinger (like a saucer). If two glasses of the same wine are ordered offer a bottle for celebration and value. If a second bottle is ordered present it with fresh glasses. Correct pronunciation of the wine is important. Not sure about the wine description then just read the back label as most wineries offer descriptions that adequately describe their products. Do you always have your wine key at the start of the shift?

Coffee & Espresso

Just for summer: how about a refreshing Spanish Coffee on the rocks! Coffee should not be refilled without first asking the customer. They may have just finished blending their "perfect" cup of coffee with cream and sugar or it's finally cooled to the temperature they prefer. When offering coffee don't forget to mention your espresso service and flavored syrups available. Try this script, "Do you prefer regular, decaf or and Irish-Coffee?"


Serve cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot! Blended drinks (slurpee-style) will separate with the crushed ice floating on the top if they are not delivered promptly and it ruins the presentation.

Selling Verses Informing

The idea is not to just sell for the sake of selling. That just irritates your customer. The professional waiter crafts sales by offering information on products that match the customers' tastes and values and include items that visitors may not be aware of which broadens their options. It enhances their Northwest experience!

Other alternatives are new slants on old items. Bottled waters, sport drinks, chilled coffee/espresso, flavored milks and of course your local products.

Paul C. Paz is a Hospitality Consultant & Author of the book Service At Its Best: Waiter-Waitress Training. First and foremost, however, Paul is a professional waiter. Paul can be found online at WaitersWorld, a site dedicated exclusively to those aspiring to gain personal, professional, and financial success plying the craft of Professional Waiter!

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