Lean on Restaurant Employee Incentive Programs to Boost Your Profits

By Charlie Francus, Co-Founder of Springzy

Believe it or not, you employ a small army of marketers. And if you’re like most restaurant operators, they’re not being used to their full potential.

I’m talking about your front of house CREW! The people that interact with your customers tableside day in and day out. They can have an immediate and dramatic impact on your top line sales, and just a small amount of effort can pay HUGE dividends.

In order to get results you must engage and motivate staff effectively.

Every dollar you spend on marketing for customer acquisition and frequency programs is focused on bringing a guest to the table. But that’s not where marketing stops! If your marketing efforts don’t include what happens at the table, you’re missing out on an avalanche of sales.

Be honest: What is the most effective way to encourage a customer to try your latest and greatest feature? A soggy table tent that immediately gets pushed to the side and forgotten or an enthusiastic server that describes their favorite new menu addition?

There’s no comparison, yet hardly any restaurants are effectively incorporating their staff into marketing programs. Restaurants need to utilize employee incentive programs to boost growth.

So why aren't more restaurants already doing so? Eighty percent of operators admit they aren’t utilizing crew incentive programs nearly enough for two key reasons.

First, they’re time consuming. It takes time out of the manager’s day to come up with the program, communicate it to their staff, and ultimately track and rewards the winners.

The second reason is engagement. It can be difficult to keep your staff engaged and motivated throughout the course of the incentive. It’s only effective if the team members buy in and change their behavior.

Just how much money are you missing out on?

Remember that any additional sales made tableside are almost entirely profit (less food cost); its revenue you’re getting without any discount/coupon or additional marketing dollars. That customer is already in your restaurant. The hard part is complete. Now you’re just maximizing the transaction AND YOUR PROFIT!

Let’s do a quick exercise focused on an appetizer sales competition.

In this example, the restaurant has 20 servers. During the course of a month-long competition, each one is able to sell an extra 15 appetizers. That’s not much of a stretch. It probably comes out to less than one extra appetizer per shift each server works.

If your average appetizer price is $10 and your food cost is 34%, you’re looking at a net profit of $6.60 for each of those ADDITIONAL sales. Multiply that by your 20 servers x 15 extra appetizers per server and you just added $1,980 to your bottom line this month. Not bad for a simple appetizer competition with your staff.

Want to quickly see how your sales can be impacted? We’ve created a free and easy to use ROI calculator. Simply fill in the blanks and it takes care of the rest!

Staff competitions can do much more than simply sell additional appetizers. They’re extremely effective at selling higher profit items, clearing inventory that is going out of date or out of season, or promoting specific vendor partner’s products in return for rebates or incentives.

Ready to begin utilizing your crew to raise sales and profit? We’ve created a free eBook - Activate Your Marketing Army! A Guide to Capturing Extra Revenue Tableside. We’ve put together real world case studies and cover how to make your suggestive sell competitions more effective as well as ideas to get started. Just click here to download your free copy today!

Charlie Francus, Springzy

About the Author
Charlie is a self-proclaimed gaming expert. In addition to games, he knows a thing or two about the restaurant industry. When it comes to working in the restaurant, his experience spans from serving, cooking and managing. In 2005 he started his own food service concept, it was extremely successful and he sold it two years later. For the last six years he has worked as the head of marketing for a national restaurant chain.