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It’s no secret that roughly 60% of restaurants fail within their first three years. The number one reason? A lack of revenue. The number one way to address it? By increasing the average check. Below you’ll find 3 simple ways to do just that. Take these to the bank!


A knowledgeable staff is an essential element of every successful restaurant. The more your staff has been trained on service standards, menu items, ingredients, and how dishes are prepared, the more successful they will be in helping drive the average check.

Staff members who can’t explain the difference between the club and the cuban are hurting your brand. If every other question your guests ask is followed by “let me check with the kitchen,” your service staff are dealing deadly blows to the memorable experience you aim to provide. Deep product knowledge streamlines the customer experience and makes each and every patron feel like they’re in good hands.

Tips & Ideas

  • Create service standards, procedures, and facilitate active training for your entire staff.
  • Hire a Secret Shopping company to anonymously test your service standards.
  • Develop written menu knowledge tests as part of staff on-boarding and retest periodically afterward.
  • Require staff to try your menu so they can speak from experience when dealing with guests. This is particularly important when it comes to signature dishes and specials.
  • Introduce each new item to your staff with a tasting and educational meeting.

2. QUALIFY GUESTS (stop treating them like a number)

Restaurant guests are looking for a unique and memorable experience. Repeat guests are looking for consistency on top of it! Train your staff to stop providing guests a cookie-cutter experience. Encourage them to show an interest in what patrons are looking to get out of their time while dining with you. Then, give them the tools to over deliver on those expectations.

This isn’t to say your staff should treat certain guests any better or worse than others, quite the contrary. Staff members should always deliver top-tier service, but try to tailor their interactions to each customer along the way. This is how they can make sure guests feel special and that they’ve received exceptional value during their visit.

Tips & Ideas

  • Develop qualifying questions that your staff can use to best engage with your customers and learn what they’re looking for out of their dining experience
    • Proceed with Caution: Consumers hate overly scripted interactions as they lack authenticity. These questions should only be used if they fit seamlessly into conversation.
  • Have staff members use answers from the qualifying questions to make more informed recommendations tailored toward delivering a unique and memorable guest experience.
  • Encourage staff to personalize their interactions by using their name and the name of a customer when/if possible.
  • Emphasize that every interaction needs to be genuine and empathetic. Guests can always tell when a staff member is simply going through the motions.


The fastest way to increase the average check is to add an additional appetizer, sell a more expensive bottle of wine, or make sure a dessert or two end up on the table. After training to ensure robust product knowledge and how to assess a guest’s desires, the up-sell is the natural next step.

Unfortunately, up-selling is a challenge that few staff members are comfortable with. For them, the fear of rejection or coming off like a “used car salesman” is all too real. The best way to help them overcome that fear is through training tailored to your menu’s up-sell opportunities. Walk them through practice scenarios, have them apply them in real-world situations with your guests and provide feedback afterwards when possible. The key to success here is how genuine the recommendation is perceived to be.

Tips & Ideas

  • Train your staff to ask questions that ensure a “yes” before they ask questions that could possibly result in a “no.” This puts the customers in a better psychological state to continue saying “yes.”

  • Have them utilize leading phrases such as “To get you started, I’d recommend the XXX appetizer because it’s made with XXX and very XXX” instead of “would you like an appetizer?”.
  • Make sure your staff are giving their full attention to your customers when asking them for something.
    • Train them on how to make it harder for guests to say no. Have them bring the dessert menu directly to the table instead of casually asking whether or not guests would like to see it while they’re clearing the table. Emphasize that it’s much more difficult for a guest to dismiss them when they’re giving them their full attention.
  • Have them ask for the sale!
    • You’d be surprise how many times “can I take your order?” has been the first thing I’ve heard after sitting down. No “hello,” no qualifying, no up-selling, no recommendations, nothing to try and make my experience more memorable or valuable. Even a staff member that is terrible at up-selling will hit a home run every now and then if they’re simply willing to ask.
  • Encourage them to proactively use their product knowledge to enhance the guest experience.
    • If a customer orders a bottle of red wine, have them ask if they’ve decided on their main course so they can ensure that bottle would make for a good pairing. If it doesn’t, they now have the opportunity to recommend a different bottle that would be a better fit.

It’s time to decide how you want to go about increasing your average check. If your restaurant needs any help with Front of House training, we would love to hear from you! Contact Us!

» Born and educated in the United States, John Stocki launched his career on a global scale working in Australia, United Arab Emirates, China and the US, as well as traveling and training in over 30 countries. He brings a straight-forward approach, laced with direct personal experience, to his special style of training which is what makes his company – Stocki Exchange – so distinctive. Founded in 2012, the Stocki Exchange enables John to travel throughout the US and abroad helping others to grow their businesses through innovation and inspiration. John is also a contributing writer to The Huffington Post.

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