Often the recorder of lunch-time business plans, cute girls' phone numbers and Warhol-worthy doodles, the cocktail napkins can take on additional duties as a service tool. Placing a beverage napkin, or coaster, in front of restaurant guests just before taking their drink order is a simple technique that carries a triple-ply threat.
First, ensuring that newly seated guests are attended to within the first few moments is key to setting the tone for the rest of the dining experience. Guests may become impatient if ignored, they may also cringe when repeatedly asked by your staff if they've been helped. It's a completely avoidable interruption that shows a lack of professionalism. Placing the cocktail napkin or coaster on the table is a clear signal to the service staff that the guests have been acknowledged and beverage orders taken.
Second, the placement of the cocktail napkin or coaster creates a strong suggestion that guest order pre-meal drinks. And because they're carried in an apron or folio, it helps keep beverage sales top of mind with the service staff, too. When we started consistently using this technique, we watched sales of pre-meal beverages jump from 28% to 75%. Not bad on the bottom line!
Third, this is a simple way to boost server tips significantly. Portion sizes and menu prices may have gone down with the economy, but drink orders can make up the difference and pad the pockets of those tip-hungry servers.
Give this simple technique a try. Track pre-meal beverage orders and tips for one week before consistently placing the cocktail napkins or coasters during the second week. Hopefully you'll see a similar boost in sales.
And one more thing...don't forget to recommend one of your signature appetizers to share when taking the drink order!