Logo techconfronts.com
Sullivan's nod - what is it? Methods to increase sales in a restaurant for waiters
Sullivan's nod - what is it? Methods to increase sales in a restaurant for waiters

A good waiter is a person who knows how not only to offer dishes to guests, but to sell them. At first glance, it may seem that there is nothing complicated in this, but this is absolutely not the case. Increasing sales depends on the qualifications of the institution's staff. There are many technologies that allow you to increase profits. Most of them are based on the intricacies of psychology.

This article will detail what the Sullivan nod is in a restaurant and when to use it. It will also be possible to find out what other sales methods exist in catering establishments.

Sullivan's Nod: What is it?

This method is used to create a subliminal suggestion to purchase one specific item from a list of similar items that was voiced by the waiter or bartender. For example, in a restaurant there are a number of items that need to be sold today, but it does not always happen that guests choose them. In this case, the staff shouldturn on your charm and, when communicating with customers, simply nod slightly, saying with this gesture: “This is the best position.”

According to restaurateurs, the head nod (Sullivan nod) works 60% of the time. If, for example, a batch of a certain brand of wine is stale in a bar, then it can be sold much faster using this method. Therefore, the Sullivan nod is the first selling technique in the restaurant business that any waiter and bartender should master.

sullivan nod herringbone

Execution technology

Sullivan's nod is performed by slightly lowering the head (about 10-15 degrees). This is necessary when the waiter needs to sell a specific product. When listing dishes or alcoholic drinks, when the turn comes to the desired position, you must make a slight affirmative nod.

It is important to make the nod tangible, but very subtle, so that the guest catches it, but does not suspect anything. At the same time, it is important to complement the gesture with a sincere and friendly smile.

What other techniques are there?

Sullivan's nod isn't the only way to increase restaurant sales. There are other effective ways to get guests to order more food and drinks.

So, along with Sullivan's nod, there are the following methods:

  • Herringbone.
  • "A chain of associations".
  • "Stirlitz principle".
  • "Must Dessert".
  • "By the way."
  • "Sale of taste".

It is worth talking about each of themmore details.

Christmas tree restaurant sales method

Just like Sullivan's nod, Herringbone is a great way to increase menu item sales. It is based on the correct order of questions to ask the guest.

Sullivan's head nod

It is worth imagining the following situation: the guest came to the restaurant for the first time, the waiter serves the menu and leaves for a while. A person, sitting alone with a list of dishes, looks at their composition and chooses a salad, main course and dessert for himself. Whether guided by budget or personal preference, he may order an incompatible set of meals or choose inappropriate drinks. After he has eaten his order, he may feel heaviness in the stomach or an unpleasant aftertaste of alcohol that did not fit one of the dishes. Outcome? He will be disappointed in the restaurant, as he will have unpleasant associations with this place. In order to avoid such an oversight, a sales technology was invented in a restaurant called "Herringbone".

The task of the waiter is to reduce the time for the guest to choose an order by accompanying him through the menu and asking the following series of questions:

  1. "Would you like a light snack or a hearty meal?" Based on the answer, you need to move on to appetizers, salads, desserts or hot dishes.
  2. "Would you like to order meat, fish, seafood or vegetables?" After this question, the guest goes to the desired menu section without wasting time looking at unnecessary information.
  3. "Which drinks do you prefer?" Based on the answer, you should recommend that drink (fromalcoholic or non-alcoholic series), which will be the most suitable for the selected dish.

These questions are the basis, but their number can be supplemented by many others. The main thing is that they help the guest quickly decide on the order and be helpful.

Sullivan nod in a restaurant

For this method to work, the waiter needs:

  1. Know the menu perfectly and be ready to respond quickly to all guest questions about the menu.
  2. Don't be intrusive. It is important to remember that this method works both ways - to increase sales and satisfy the guest. Therefore, all questions should be concise and unobtrusive.
  3. Know how well dishes fit together.
  4. Know what drinks to serve with different meals.

Using the method in practice, the waiter himself can determine which questions help him increase sales.

Association chain

This method of sales in a restaurant for a waiter is a great opportunity to increase the average bill by at least 50% of the initial amount. It requires excellent knowledge of the menu, food compatibility and active interaction with guests.

This method works in the following way: the guest makes an order, and the waiter offers an accompanying dish or drink. For example, a person orders a steak and a side dish. In this case, the waiter has the opportunity to offer him vegetables, an additional sauce or a glass of the most delicious wine.

Stirlitz principle

This method is of course a little more difficult to use, unlikefrom "Herringbone" or Sullivan's nod. "Operator's Manual" is based on the reasoning of the hero of the same name from the movie "Seventeen Moments of Spring". His thought was that a person's memory is arranged in a very specific way - he best remembers and perceives what was said first and last.

sullivan nod what is it

If the waiter's task is to sell a certain item, he should structure the conversation as follows: “I would like to recommend you a layer cake with cherry jam, a quiche and an apple pie. I want to note that the pie with cherry jam is prepared according to the original, secret recipe of our chef, who studied it at culinary courses in France.” If you add some details to your offer, the guest will focus on this dish.

Most often this trick is useful when you need to sell those items that are about to expire or if this particular dish can be cooked the fastest. Speaking of the second option, the waiter has the opportunity to serve the table as quickly as possible during rush hour.

Must Dessert

Some people, after eating the main course, prefer to eat something sweet as well. If the guest did not order dessert immediately, then it is imperative to offer it to him after he has finished what he ordered. It is important to observe the guests and have time to use this technique as soon as they have finished their main course, but have not yet had time to ask for the bill. When asking a question about dessert, the waiter can also use the techniqueStirlitz principle or Sullivan's nod. Thus, he gets the opportunity not only to increase the total size of the check, but also to sell the necessary dishes.

Sullivan nod and other techniques

However, it is important not to linger here. You should open the menu in advance on the page with desserts, ask the visitor and immediately show him the positions. It is important to ask questions without prefixes “not” (“Would you like to order dessert?”). It is recommended to forget about this wording completely. It is best to use the “yes” technique: “Would you like dessert?” Thus, the waiter gives the person a choice in advance. If you use questions with the prefix “not”, the client is likely to refuse.

By the Way Technique

The essence of this sales method is to offer the guest something, starting with the word "by the way." It should be noted that this technique is very versatile. She can help sell unpopular menu or wine list items.

In practice, it might look like this: “By the way, note that this wine will go well with this dish” or “By the way, I recommend paying attention to our signature pumpkin soup. It will not only satisfy your hunger, but will also warm you in this rainy weather.” Emphasizing the details with this word will enhance the effect of the sentence.

Sale taste

Sullivan's nod and other techniques won't work if the waiter can't describe the flavors of the food in a beautiful way. He needs to be guided not only in the names of positions, but also in their taste properties and qualities. Worth onlyimagine what thoughts will slip through the visitor’s head if the question is: “Won’t this dish be too spicy?” the answer will be: “I don’t know, I haven’t tried it.” To avoid such a failure, the manager or administrator of the establishment must pay due attention to the training system for service personnel.

It is important that people working in a restaurant can navigate the menu, know the composition of the dishes and be able to describe them beautifully. The overall success of sales and an increase in the average check will depend on the correct presentation.

Sullivan's nod is

Besides this, naturalness is important. If the description of dishes is overflowing with the epithets “beautiful”, “magnificent”, “refined”, etc., then the guest will not be able to imagine the magic of taste. It is best to use words such as "delicate", "juicy", "refreshing", "fragrant". It is this presentation that is selling. It is important that visitors enjoy gastronomic pleasure, from communication with staff and ending with a meal.

What tactics and techniques should be avoided?

In order to increase sales, it is not enough just to know how to use the techniques described above correctly. Additionally, you should also study how you can not sell food and drinks.

Sometimes staff develop customer service habits that ruin the entire concept of the establishment. The first and main one is the premature closing of the check. The fear that the visitor will leave without paying, forces the waiters to bring the bill and collect the payment as soon as possible.

With psychologicalpoint of view, the guest considers his visit to the establishment completed. He has finished his meal and wants to head for the exit. However, for example, if a person ordered a hot dish and salads, then, having finished his dishes, he may think about eating dessert as well. Or he can buy an extra drink. Therefore, in order not to miss the opportunity to increase positions in checks, waiters should not carry the bill right away. You just need to carefully monitor the guests, and if there is a suspicion that a person may not pay for dinner, then it is better to inform the manager or manager about this.

Another mistake is the fear of offering expensive menu items. Often waiters are afraid that the guest might think something like “They offer me the most expensive dishes, so they just want to make money on me.” There are a number of guests who can afford delicious and expensive meals or drinks, and there are those who are simply flattered to know that they are considered we althy (even if they do not allow themselves to be extra spending). Therefore, it is worth offering high-value positions without fear.

Another tactic a waiter should avoid is listing too many dishes. You should remember the Herringbone technique, which makes it possible to make communication with guests short, but constructive. If the waiter acts as a "live menu", visitors are likely to ask him to leave and study the positions on their own. Therefore, it is necessary to concentrate on a few dishes that the waiter will offer guests. The main thing is that they make guests want to try them.

And moreone failing maintenance technique is over-intrusiveness. It should be remembered that the waiter is the person who should help the guests. However, do not patronize visitors. It is important to closely monitor what is happening on the guest’s table, and just be there or in sight at the right time. In addition, you should not impose food or drinks on visitors. It is necessary to proceed from their desires and preferences. It must be remembered that persistence and obsession can spoil the mood of visitors, and subsequently the opinion of the institution.

restaurant sales methods for waiters

Tip increase technique

Every waiter knows that if he serves a guest well, he can count on additional earnings in the form of tips left to him. However, the main thing here is to win over the visitor.

Scientists have found that the surest way in this case is to repeat the guest's words. The psychological effect of this technique is simply amazing. The waiter should only listen carefully to what the guest says, and in his phrases it is appropriate to use the words that were said by the visitor.


Sullivan's nod and other sales techniques will increase the size of the average check in the institution. The most important thing is to master them in such a way that their application looks natural.

A restaurant manager can independently conduct special trainings with staff or invite specialists. This will help train waiters to sell menu items so that guests are satisfied and do not regret the money spent. Having trainedbartenders and waiters to the main technicians listed above, the establishment has the opportunity to more than double sales.

Popular topic