Employee Contests To Improve Restaurant Sales and Service

by Jennifer L. on February 4, 2012

“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success,” that’s according to the famous industrialist Henry Ford.

On that note, we’d like to stress today the importance of teamwork in your restaurant so you can achieve your goals this year (you can read our articles about the importance of teamwork and how to develop teamwork among your employees). Because that’s the thing with the restaurant business—you just can’t do it alone. And employee contests are said to be one of the most effective ways to encourage teamwork among your staff. Here are 4 of them that have been shared by successful restaurant managers in the country:

The Perfect Team Sales Contest

Sean Predith of Chili’s suggested one good tip to be able to produce an effective Sales Contest among your servers, something that would encourage even the low-performers. After documenting everyone’s sales averages for a month, pair your top salesperson with the worst one, the second best server with the second worst, and so on. Give them a sales goal to work on, and encourage the other staff, like the chefs in their superior chef whites and kitchen crew, to place their “bet” on a specific team. The team who hit the top spot will each receive $25 gift certificate, while the winning crew in the kitchen gets $10. This activity cultivates camaraderie and encourages coaching, in addition to the lively atmosphere brought about by the contest.

Greeters’ Raffle Tickets

One good incentive you can give to your receptionists is the use of sales “props” like table tents, reader boards and menus in suggesting specials, promotions, appetizers and desserts to the diners. Every time the greeters use their props or make food recommendations to guests, they are entitled to receive a raffle ticket for an exciting prize that will be drawn at the end of each month. The more they suggest the more tickets they receive; hence, more chances of winning.

The Home Run

Here’s another one from Denny’s Restaurants: if a server up sells a beverage at the start of the meal (from small to regular, glass changed to bottle, etc.), he gets a single. Once he gets to sell an appetizer, he earns a double; a triple is when the entrée is upgraded (to a larger serving, come with sides or add-ons). A home run is earned when a specialty coffee, a dessert or an after-dinner liqueur is added to the tab. At the end of the month, each of the player’s runs are added up, and the one with the top score wins the home run prize. Prize could be a “batting trophy,” along with some baseball caps.

Hanging Bills for Cooks

You want to solve your efficiency and speed issues in the kitchen? Try this: hang a fishing line somewhere in the kitchen, and place 10 or 20 pieces of $1 bills on the line (some use play money to represent the cash). Give your kitchen crew their ideal cooking times—like 15 minutes maximum allotted time per order during dinner. Managers and servers can check the ticket times and compare this with the goal, maybe through the use of your POS system or appointing someone to clock in and out the tickets at your restaurant’s pass-through window. For every delayed order (served outside of the goal), the manager takes out a dollar from the line of bills. The line cooks, in their smart chef whites, share the remaining money after the shift.

And that’s just four of them. We plan to have more next time, as we know you can only spend a few minutes of your time checking this out. Remember—one manifestation of a successful restaurant is a solid restaurant culture. Promote camaraderie and happiness among your employees and they will move the heavens to make your customers happy. Happy customers mean repeat business and repeat business means higher sales. Have a highly profitable 2012!

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