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In his EXPO 2018 Keynote Speech—”Turn Your Staff Into Sales Superstars—world-renown seminar speaker Bob Brown discussed various tips he’s picked up as a waiter that have translated to countless operations since and how they can benefit your club.

When Bob Brown is selling ice to an Eskimo, don’t be surprised if they walk away with a bejweled container of it. Brown, who is a world-renown seminar leader and management consultant, counts hospitality industry giants such as Disney, Marriott, Hilton and Red Lobster among beneficiaries of his counsel.

Brown was the Keynote Speaker at the 2018 Gentlemen’s Club EXPO—and he came at the behest of gentlemen’s club industry veteran Dean Reardon, who had seen him speak previously.

“The way to be a guest expert is knowing how to ask the right questions or to notice something about someone,” said Brown. “‘You look great tonight, are you celebrating something? That calls for a nice bottle of …’ I did that thousands of times as a waiter and I’ve taught it and it works.”

One of the key focal points of Brown’s speech was not asking “yes/no” questions. He told the audience it didn’t need to look further than the typical opening question at most restaurants/entertainment venues: “Can I start you off with a drink?” Brown contends the flaw in this question is oftentimes the answer is, “No, I’ll get a water.” “That’s a zero-tip question,” Brown remarked. “A yes/no question is a ‘No’ waiting to happen. It takes longer to order-take than it does to sell.”

To facilitate the learning experience, Brown featured blank worksheets for the audience to fill in along with his presentation, which corresponded to his opening anecdote. Brown described the knowledge he displayed as the waiter—the knowledge of the wine list down to the specific ingredients and region, knowing personal details about the guest if applicable, and using “brain stickers” such as names, brands or places (“Tony from Vancouver makes a great Grey Goose martini” or for the purposes of this magazine “Tiffany from Vancouver loves a Grey Goose martini”). Brown stressed it’s important to impart this knowledge quickly.

“People can have a low resistance to listening,” he said. For those clubs offering food, or for those who have drink menus, Brown impressed upon the profitability of giving “guided tours,” pointing out to the customer suggestions without really offering the opportunity for dissent.

Brown also talked about how closing a presentation to a customer is just as important as the greeting. Whether it’s doing a last-minute upsell before the closing of a check, getting their names for future appearences or remembering what they drank.
“Build a client for life when saying goodbye,” Brown suggests. “Everyone is a potential lifetime customer. You have to watch all the guests you have.”

The type of questions you should NEVER ask are …

One of the key focal points of Brown’s speech was not asking “yes/no” questions. He told the audience it didn’t need to look further than the typical opening question at most restaurants/entertainment venues: “Can I start you off with a drink?”

Brown contends the flaw in this question is oftentimes the answer is, “No, I’ll get a water.” “That’s a zero-tip question,” Brown remarked. “A yes/no question is a ‘No’ waiting to happen. It takes longer to order-take than it does to sell.”

Along those lines, Brown encourages staff to make suggestions while making sure to implement those names, brands and places where possible. Instead of “Do you know what you’d like to order?” try, “If you’d like to treat yourself, I wouldn’t want you to miss our center-cut, 28-day-aged, certified Black Angus filet.”

“If you could get all of your (wait staff) to stop asking yes/no questions and start suggesting with brain stickers, you would make at least 8% more,” said Brown to a room full of nodding heads. Another trick Brown picked up as a waiter is to stand across from the leader buyer because they influence the buying habits of the table.

In his closing remarks, Brown reiterated the importance of yes/no questions, guided tours for menus, suggestions and brain stickers. It’s about establishing a relationship with the customer(s) but it’s the subtle tricks Brown has spent decades refining he hoped club owners, managers, and operators would take away. “You have to be committed to implementing these things,” he said.

Bob Brown is a leading keynote speaker, author, seminar leader and management consultant for restaurants and hotels worldwide. Bob helps companies achieve service and sales excellence and improve guest loyalty. Author of the best selling Little Brown Book of Restaurant Success, Bob creates powerful strategies, tools, and techniques that are incorporated into the cultures of such industry leaders as Marriott, Disney, Ritz Carlton, Hilton, Red Lobster, and Olive Garden.

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