Coaching Super Stars to Boost Sales

Coaching restaurant employees

The greatest influencer of performance is coaching. Yet, it’s the most underdeveloped practice in restaurants, nightclubs and bars. Though many managers know how to do inventory, generate a P&L, and write schedules, too few are skilled in coaching. 

When you're a great coach you develop honor and maximize the unique talents of your people. You improve performance, boost sales, and guest satisfaction. And, when you gift your players with time, attention, and direction, you'll get a rousing round of applause in the form a loyal, grateful and high performing staff.   

Here are 5 tips to better coaching skills:

1) Overcome fear. When I ask, “What’s so hard about coaching?” I hear, "It’s hard to find the right words. I feel like I’m picking on people.” Unfortunately, some managers take the autocratic “my way or the highway” approach while others buddy up too close to hold their players accountable. 

2) Be a subject matter expert. How can you earn the respect of your players if you  haven’t mastered the product knowledge and service skills you aspire to teach. Be prepared to model everything from how to deliver an airplane landing delivery of a plate, to giving a guided tour of the menu, to making “hello” special. When you're competent you're believable.  

3) Be a DNA detective. Is your team member a hospitality charmer, a sidework  obsessive-compulsive, or a super salesperson? Great coaches sniff out the idiosyncrasies, desires, and talents of their players. Uncover the DNA by asking, "What do you do best? How do you like to be rewarded? What's the one thing I can do to motivate you?”     

4) Watch your words. Ever hear, “I feel like a babysitter?” Too many managers stay trapped in this energy-draining role. They unwittingly speak to employees like children. “You need to,” “you ought to,” “you should,” “you never,” “you always.” Treating an employee like a child is guaranteed to demotivate. Bitter and resentful, your coachee will resist the behavior you are trying to change, and scheme on how to get even. That’s a big price to pay.

5) Master the coaching conversation. I'm often asked, “How can I be direct without sounding harsh? How can I stop asking people, ‘Would you do me a favor?’ when all I really want is for them to do their job?” Consider the following approach:  

-Observe. “I noticed at table 23 you said to Mr. and Ms. Brown, ‘Would you like some wine? And Mr. Brown said, ‘no we’re fine with water.’”

-Offer advice. “My advice is to say, ‘Mr. and Ms. Brown, if you're interested in wine, our list is arranged by varietals. For a light crisp white, I recommend the Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc.’”

-Explain benefit. “When you explain how the wine list works and suggest a featured wine, you plant the wine seed. And if a guest buys a $40 bottle, you just made eight dollars in 10 seconds. 


Want to learn more from Bob Brown on Coashing Superstars? Then make sure to attend his conference session during the Nightclub & Bar Show. The Nightclub & Bar Show is the industry's largest annual gathering of bar, beverage and nightlife professionals. The 30th Anniversary Event will take place March 30-April 1, 2015 in Las Vegas. For more information about the Nightclub & Bar Show, visit