Monthly Archives: December 2009

Your Best Year Ever ~ Part 2

Here are steps 2 and 3 to help you achieve your best year ever

Step 2

So, yes, some things fell through the cracks. Take a look at that, too, without the drama

So the next part of the process is to look at the last 12 months and this time look at what you set out to achieve but you haven’t achieved yet.  The goals that you set but haven’t actualised yet in reality.  And again take some time to make a list of all of these things, things that you wanted to be, things that you wanted to do, things that you wanted to have over the last 12 months that you haven’t been yet, that you haven’t done yet and that you haven’t had yet.  Have you any outstanding unspoken conversations? What do you regret or feel guilty about? 

List all the ongoing things that bother you and cause you negative energy – however minor. What do you need to do with them: action or let go?  Make a decision one way or the other; how important are these things to you? Are they things that need to be done, or do you put them behind you and stop worrying about them?

Step 3

That probably wasn’t as pleasant as the previous part of the exercise but that is ok we can now extract learnings from what you didn’t achieve so that you can ensure you make the next 12 months different.  So turn to a new page in your journal and put a heading on the top of the page titled ‘Rules for Success’.  What I want you to do is go over all of the things you have achieved over the last 12 months and work out what it was that you did during those times that enabled you to succeed.  What are the rules that if you follow them you succeed.  Then look at the things that you didn’t achieve, what were the rules that you weren’t following that if you had followed them you would have achieved these goals.  By going through the goals that you have achieved and also going through the goals that you didn’t achieve you can put together your personal rules for success, the rules that you know you have already proven that if you follow these rules you succeed.  So take some time now to review the previous year and work on your own personal set of rules for success.

It is a good idea to keep these rules for success somewhere handy, to keep reminding yourself of them.  Then next time when things aren’t going the way that you want you can refer to your rules of success.  I keep mine pinned above my desk as a constant reminder.

Step 4  follows in a few days time.  But if you really cant wait that long you can find the full exercise here.

Your Best Year Ever ~ Part 1

This year, how about taking some time (if you haven’t done so already) to sit alone quietly and reflect on what it is you TRULY WANT to be, do, and have in your life and for your business?

It has been said that by the end of March only about 63% of the people who made New Year resolutions are still making an effort to follow through. Go a few more months and the figure plummets to about 20%.  

So does this mean that making resolutions is just a waste of time?  Is the new year just a time to look forward to a new start on old habits?  Or is it an opportunity to make a fresh start on the things that really matter to you?  Whether it is the start of a new calendar year, the start of a new financial year, or just simply that you want to make a fresh start on any aspect of your life.  The problem may lie more in HOW and WHY we make them than with the idea itself.

 So if you have failed in the past to follow through on your plans and resolutions try this approach instead.

The process will take you around 2 hours, so a bit longer than the average throw away resolution made on New Year’s Eve.  But to me it is time well spent. I recommend you record all this in a journal, or a hardback book, where you can revisit your notes.

So find yourself a quiet space and set aside a couple of hours to plan Your Best Year Ever

Step 1

Let’s start by reviewing the past 12 months.

Most of us have a tendency to view the taking stock process as an opportunity to beat ourselves up and find fault with everything we have NOT accomplished.

Well, enough of that.  Start from a place of power.

This year, give yourself some credit for what you have accomplished! Make a list, and don’t fall into the trap of thinking anything is too small to be significant. In one way or another, in one area or another (and likely in many), you’ve come a long, long way.

So let’s start by reviewing your successes and accomplishments.

So starting from January all the way up to today make a list of all of the things that you have achieved, all the goals that you achieved, any new skills learnt, and burdens you have dealt with.  It doesn’t matter how big the goal was or what area of life it was in write down every single thing you have achieved no matter how small no matter how big.  Month by month list and categorize everything single thing you have achieved in the last 12 months. 

Now let’s take a look at what you have written. I bet you have achieved more over the last 12 months than you thought you did. So notice how good it makes you feel when you look at what you have gone out and done. 

Step 2 follows in a few days time.  But if you really cant wait that long you can find the full exercise here.

How to get your staff upselling

Wikipedia describes upselling as ‘a sales technique whereby a saleperson induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale. Upselling usually involves marketing more profitable services or products, but upselling can also be simply exposing the customer to other options he or she may not have considered previously. Upselling implies selling something that is more profitable or otherwise preferable for the seller instead of the original sale’.  But is it just about increasing the customer spend, or is it also about giving the customer a better all round experience, giving them something they might have forgotten to order, or never even thought of?

McDonalds of course are the masters of this – have you ever not been offered fries or a drink to go with your burger. And when was the last time you bought an electrical appliance and not been told the benefits of an extended warranty?

What to promote

So in order to do this effectivley the fist thing is to determine which are the products or services you wish to promote.  It obviously makes sense to be promoting high profit items, but there can be a danger in using this as the only criteria.  Unless what you are promoting is perceived as value to the customer, it’s unlikely the sale will be achieved, and does little to build your customer’s loyalty or trust.  It’s also important to distinguish between high selling price and profitablilty and appropriateness to meet the cusomters’ needs.  For example upselling to a more expensive bottle of wine when it does not appeal to the customers’ tastes.

Product knowledge

Staff need to fully understand each of the products and services available:

  • What are the high profit items
  • What are the component parts of any packages
  • What’s not included, but may be relevant to offer to the customer
  • What are the ingredients in a dish
  • What does it taste like
  • What are the best accompaniments to a dish

Allow staff to experience all the products and services first hand – this will not only make them more memorable, there will be more willingness to promote if they are confident to talk about it, and it will certainly be easier to evoke emotional appeal through vivid descriptions of taste, smell, feel, if they’ve experienced them themselves.

Spot the opportunities

Let them identify all the situations that lend themselves as an opportunity to upsell – not just in their own department – but across all areas.

  • Options on accommodation – room upgrades, special packages, champagne in rooms
  • In the restaurant – bottled water, suggestions for starters, accompaniments, side orders, desserts, dessert wine, specialist coffees, after dinner drinks
  • Bar – branded beers, snack items, pastries with their coffee

I’m sure you’ll have many more specifics for your own operation

It’s also about timing – for example selling desserts – ask too soon and people say they are still too full, and go straight on to coffee; ask too late and they have gone off the idea, and want to head off home.


Teach staff the mechanics of upselling

  • The need for open questions to identify what the customer wants
  • How to listen actively to customers’ requests or preferences
  • How to respond, and make suggestions, or offer alternatives that best meet the customers needs
  • How would they describe each of your products and services?  Rather than a script, allow them to develop their own dialogue, one that comes naturally to them, rather than something they have to remember and run the risk of forgetting.


Practice makes perfect

It’s all very well knowing what to say, but you know how sometimes when you come to say something the words just don’t trip off the tongue as you might hope!  Let your team practise in a safe environment, based on different scenarios.

Plan for objections

Whether an objection is perceived or real, staff need to know how to deal with these.  One awkward question can shatter confidence, so train staff to get to spot and handle different situations.

  • Distinguish between a definite ‘No’, and a simple request for more information before buying
  • When its just a matter of timing – they are too full now, but ask me again in 10 minutes
  • They want something more, but you’ve just offered the wrong thing
  • Explain the need to identify the nature of the objection by asking open questions
  • How to demonstrate empathy and understanding of the customer’s perspective
  • How to gain trust by matching the response or offering to meet the customer’s needs


Give incentives

Link your upselling activity to some goals.  This might simply be a target to sell x number of a certain product or service, or may be linked to specific financial profit targets.  Whatever goals you set ensure these are clearly measurable and achievable, that any incentive is equitable so everyone is motivated to contribute, and that you give regular updates on progress.

Guide and support

Don’t assume because you’ve told people how to do something they will be able to just go out and deliver it consistently. Observe how your staff handle the upselling conversation and give them feedback after the event on what they did well, what they could do more of, and give the appropriate support and guidance on areas where they need more help.

If you’d like some help or advice with your own staff training please give me a call or drop me an e-mail at

Caroline Cooper

Plan next year’s Christmas marketing now!

As your Christmas parties get underway, your marketing for next year is probably the last thing on your mind. But now is a great time to be building up material to use for next year.  What better way to promote your Christmas parties and packages than to show people having fun, and your hotel or restaurant in all its Christmas splendour?

So at the very least, here are some things to do now.

  • Take photos of the bar, restaurant and reception while the decorations and Christmas tree are looking their best – don’t leave it until half the needles have dropped off, or the light bulbs have gone out.
  • Keep an eye out for a clear, frosty morning and get outside with your camera to take some shots of a wintery scene.
  • Take shots from different angles of the restaurant laid up for dinner. Be careful with your lighting and use a tripod for best results. Experiment with and without flash – sometimes it’s better without. ‘Snap shots’ may be OK as small images for your website, but if want to use these bigger images, or for printed material, use a professional photographer to take some quality pictures. And include some pictures of the food. Although this is easier to ‘stage’ at a later date, if you can get some shots now, so much the better.
  • Get some video footage of parties – best when guests have just arrived, and had time to relax with the their first drink, but don’t leave it until the tables are strewn with empty glasses. Always check with guests that they are happy for you to record, and secondly for the footage to appear on your site.
  • Ask guests for feedback so you can learn from them what worked well, and what they didn’t like, so you can improve on it for next year. Don’t just do this on the night or at the end of their stay, but follow up post event.  If there is anything they didn’t like they may be reluctant to tell you there and then in front of other guests.
  • Following up now helps to develop your relationship, and increases your chances of repeat business either during the year or next Christmas.
  • Ask people for testimonials that they would be happy for you to use in next year’s marketing.
  • Keep tabs on your costs throughout to ensure your have an accurate picture of your profit margins.  This includes post costing for each event, to take account of wastage.
  • Get feedback from your team, and involve them in the review process by asking for their ideas.
  • Take stock at the end of the season, and learn from your successes and failures to build on this for next year – and make sure you record all this where you can find it easily when it comes to planning next year!

How to get the best from seasonal Christmas staff

This weekend the Christmas party season gets well under way.  Even if you are not as busy as in previous years the chances are you’ll be taking on some extra staff.  But are they an asset or a liability?  If all you do is give them an order pad and tell them to get on with it, they could be doing more harm than good to your Christmas profits.

Here are my top 10 basics to cover with any new member of staff, whether for the Christmas rush or at any other time of year.

  1. Teamwork is key. Introduce new staff to the whole team, defining everyone’s areas of responsibility to ensure no gaps and no duplication of effort, Avoid the frictions that occur when someone hasn’t pulled their weight or others are seen to ‘interfere’ with your way of doing things.
  2. Don’t leave them floundering or too scared to ask for help. Establish a clear line of reporting, and who to go to for help and guidance when needed – ensuring, of course, that this person will be patient and supportive when asked.
  3. Everyone needs to know what’s expected of them from day one. Clarify basic standards of dress, staff behaviour, time keeping, break allowance, staff meals, security, food safety, health and safety.
  4. First impressions count. Specify your establishment’s standards for welcoming and greeting customers, including the booking procedures if this is part of their role.
  5. What is their role in up-selling, and what are the products you want them to promote, including any future events?  If your core team are incentivised, make sure you include seasonal staff in the scheme.
  6. People can’t sell something they don’t know exists. Ensure a thorough product knowledge – what does your establishment offer – times of service, complementary products, etc.  Let your staff taste the dishes, explain what accompanies each dish and what it should look like, what prices include and what’s extra (especially with fixed menus or party packages).
  7. Establish protocol in dealing with difficult situations, customer complaints, and awkward customers.  Define the line between handling themselves and when to seek intervention from a manager or more experienced staff member
  8. Run through the payment procedures, including any security procedures or checks needed.
  9. Avoid being let down at the last minute – Provide out of hours contact numbers and establish procedures for sickness reporting.
  10. Maintain your reputation as a good employer. Treat seasonal staff well, and they will be willing to come back next time you need an extra hand. Give them something to look forward to and keep them interested for the whole season.  Involve them in any after work social activities and maybe some incentive awarded at the end of the season.

Here’s to a very successful and profitable Christmas season