Get in There Champ! Creating Competition to Boost Revenue

May 26 2016

Staff Training Restaurant Management Server Performance

I spend my weeks talking to restaurant owners and their teams about the challenges they face in their operations. This past week I found myself deeply enmeshed in many conversations about how to motivate servers and guest facing team members to sell – sell – sell.

As more houses go to pooling tips or to no-tipping policies the old standby of being motivated by gratuities is just not holding much water. Additionally, with minimum wage hikes across the country – that server that once gave exemplary service to be sure they cleared their monthly expenses, well, now doesn’t have to work so hard for guest approval and the proverbial pat on the back with a fifty dollar bill.


The questions remain – how do I motivate these people? And, how can I measure their performance without creating a cumbersome process for myself?

Competition is a many splendored thing. Server competitions are highly effective in motivating your staff. Mostly, because every member of every service staff everywhere has a competitive edge. Leveraging their primal instinct to be the BEST is the only way to go. Here’s some tips for creating a successful and revenue boosting competition:

  • Choose easily tracked items. The trick here is to not create a mound of server reports that need to be manually tabulated to see who is selling what. Upselling entire sale departments are the most easily tracked. Appetizers and desserts – not the specific items – based on net sales can be the least cumbersome because with most POS you can easily access this information.
  • If you choose specific items, be sure the ones you’re choosing have healthy margins. This is not about blowing out your inventory of filet mignons – this is about adding revenue to your bottom line. Unless, of course, you’re carrying a huge inventory on must-move products – then I would recommend running specials.
  • Use sales per labor hour as the metric for performance monitoring. We’ve all had the servers that work the 40 hour weeks – just because they are always there doesn’t mean they are your best performer in creating revenue. Running a weekly or month long competition where you divide their net by the number of hours they worked will define who your true champions are.

Once you have created the competition – it’s time to come up with the reward. Here’s a few suggestions:

  • The winner can write their own schedule for an upcoming week.
  • The winner can choose their sections (this is, oftentimes, easier than allowing them to write their own schedules).
  • Gift cards (of course)
  • Cash money $$$ - perhaps a percentage of the sales of the items they sold would be a good motivator?

How do you motivate your servers and cashiers to increase their sales? I look forward to hearing from you!

Kristin Aduna

Kristin Aduna

Kristin has over 20 years of hospitality experience specializing in management, controlling costs and personalized customer experiences. Now a Business Development Manager for Ctuit, Kristin works with restaurants to evaluate operations and business processes to determine best practices and solutions for their business needs.