Have you ever had a dessert in your life? The answer is no, you never have. You’ve had red velvet cake, buttercream cake, peach cobbler, Deluxe Dutch Molten Volcano Pudding Surprise, or any other super wordy dessert name variation. Still, you’ve never had dessert because dessert is simply the title of what the category is, not the actual item itself. But often in a restaurant, servers come to the table at the end of the meal asking, “Anyone got room for dessert?” If you have a sweet tooth, you might say, “What do you have?” -— essentially having this customer do the work of the server. It’s a much harder hill to climb when you approach selling dessert that way.
Dessert is an easy incremental revenue item that every restaurant should advantageously seek to sell. Because desserts typically have sugar as the primary ingredient, they’re incredibly cheap and highly profitable.
So the goal should not be to merely have a dessert menu but rather to maximize the exposure and likelihood of selling dessert to as many customers as possible. To do this the approach must be procedural, not random.
Here’s how you increase that likelihood. First and foremost, come up with a long-winded name for every one of your desserts. Instead of basic cookies, they should fulfill a name like double-chunk, half-baked smoreos cookies, which is unique and entices the purchaser. The goofier and more unique the better. At the end of a meal, people also think, “I’m full, and I don’t want to spend any more money.” After a customer has eaten is the exact worst time to offer them dessert. If you want to sell desserts at a higher rate, you need servers coming by after they take the meal order before the food arrives. A pop-in to the table with this statement works great, “Hey, I just wanted to tell you about ……..” And then detail each item by name. It would be even better if they could swing it by visually, showing off the actual dessert items, to let the people start to think about it.
Ideally, you have a very hard-to-make dessert, and the server HAS to make this early sale because: “We have a limited amount.” Or “It takes more time to make this item. If you want it, I need to get it going now.” So you build exclusivity and intrigue at the most likely time of wanting to purchase it and secure the order while the customer is still hungry. After that, it’s just about delivering on the promise.
Now, these tips work great for a dine-in restaurant experience. However, if it’s on the phone or at a counter, that person could still sell better than a computer if they position it and ask about it like an invitation to a party, not an additional priced item. Case in point, “Would you like to spend $5.95 for cookies also?” Or, “Extra, double-chunk cookies with that ???!” Getting the customer to say, “Sure, why not?” As opposed to, “I don’t know if I want to add any more to this order.”
For online ordering, the ideal is to have a pop-up box, like the big boys do, after getting their main entree items in the cart. If your online portal does not have that ability, then if nothing else, have a great description and a fantastic, well-photographed version of your desserts to increase the likelihood of purchase. Do these tips, and you’ll see your dessert sales exponentially increase.