This educational post was provided by Bruce Nussbaum from Trifecta Management Group.

About the Author: In her role as Senior Director of Team Development for Trifecta Management Group, Kim Wheeler develops and oversees training and development programs for all levels of personnel from hourly Team Members to Unit Management. In addition, she customizes and leads the pre-opening training for all new unit openings.

With over twelve years of experience in her field, Kim is an enthusiastic and passionate proponent of the positive impact training and education has in the entertainment industry.

So, you want to increase internal sales? DO you:

  • Raise prices?
  • Sell more?
  • Increase Guest frequency?
  • Increase “Dwell Time” (industry speak for how long people spend and pay)?

The first option is not something you want to do on a frequent basis, or you’ll undermine value and confuse your Guests (“do these guys really know what they’re doing?”). We like to focus on the other three approaches, which we affectionately call the trifecta of internal sales building. These actions can be taken daily but will require getting your team on board and overcoming the “I’m not a salesperson” mindset that so often resides in Team Members. “Great,” you say. “Now what?” I’m here to tell you it’s easier to accomplish than you think. And it’s an investment in your business with a proven ROI. You know what it is—It’s called training. Here are some guiding principles.

Principle #1: A good salesperson doesn’t focus on the product being sold, but on anticipating the Guest’s needs, and seeking to truly enhance their experience.

We believe that everyone working at a restaurant or entertainment venue is a salesperson. They probably just don’t know it…yet. They should be educated on how each person contributes and convinced that it’s not only in the team’s best interest, but theirs as well (more on the latter, later). Whether someone works in the kitchen or at the front desk, oils the lanes or fixes video games, each person has the responsibility, and YES, I tell you, the ability, to enhance the Guest experience through their actions. Doing so exceeds the value of Guest expectations and expenditures and directly or indirectly increases revenue. It is our belief that if we can determine what a Guest is looking for and deliver it, we have succeeded in making the experience a success and, in turn, they will stay longer and/or visit more frequently.

Principle # 2: Product knowledge is the foundation of every successful sales transaction.

Using our “cross-training” technique, we begin by equipping each Team Member with the knowledge to answer questions, make suggestions and solve problems in every area of the venue. We educate each Team Member on the product content, special offerings and pricing options available throughout the facility. For example, when a restaurant server is asked a question about game card pricing, they can recite the pricing options and effectively explain the advantage of spending more to get more, i.e., the more one pays for the card, the more credits they receive. This type of ‘one-stop’ communication is appreciated in all Guest experiences, especially ours.

The revenue stream with the greatest potential for enhancing sales is the restaurant. It is also usually the most knowledge-extensive operation in an FEC. First time Guests don’t know what they don’t know and, if unguided, have only the menu as a source of information. To successfully enhance sales in this high-volume environment, a Team Member should possess a deep understanding not only of the menu items, but how those items are prepared, what alcohol options they pair well with and which add-ons enhance a particular selection.

Principle #3: The probability for success in making a sale is directly tied to the salesperson’s creditability, rapport with, and understanding the needs of, a client.

The first step in any sales transaction is to establish a rapport between Guest and server. How? By LISTENING and acknowledging that each person is unique in their needs and desires. Secondly, be honest. If a Guest asks what you think of a dish and it’s not something you eat, tell them you don’t eat “X,” but the dish is very popular with other Guests and Team Members. Honesty establishes credibility.

We have always preached that if you understand what a Guest wants in an experience, and you deliver on those expectations, the result is a successful and gratifying Guest experience. By its very nature, this requires treating each person differently and executing the “Platinum Rule”—Do onto others as they would want done unto them.

Using visual cues, asking specific questions and listening to your Guests will allow you to deliver on their expectations. This “one size does not fit all” approach will result in enhanced sales, be it increasing sales or extending length of stay during a current visit, as well as increasing the likelihood of a return visit, i.e., increased frequency.

Principle #4: When value exceeds expectations and costs, people leave happy and are likely to return.

Gaining loyalty from Guests will ensure they return again and again. In this competitive economic sector, people have a choice of where to spend their dining and entertainment money. And, as with any purchase, people are looking for the greatest value their dollars can buy. I know I am. With Americans increasing their frequency of away-from-home dining and entertainment, consumers will vote with their wallet, selecting businesses that have proven they can consistently deliver on expectations. Exceed and enhance their experiential expectations and they’ll be back!

Back to the “latter, later” stuff. What’s in it for the Team Member? A growing and successful business means more opportunity for advancement, more money for wages and bonuses, greater job security and a high morale environment fueled by entitlement and teamwork. Setting expectations, training awareness and methodology gets you the results needed to grow and safeguard your investment.

The Bottom Line: Training your team to focus on the Guest experience as a method for enhancing sales will result in building Guest loyalty, positive reviews and increase team member engagement. The sum of the effort will be a healthy and growing business.

Want to learn more from Kim? Check out her free webinar: Attaining, Training & Retaining During The Challenging Times by clicking here.