Gamifying Selling


Gamifying Selling

Gamifying Selling

Business Development Manager, Matthew Smith, on gamifying selling - fun ways to motivate your front of house team, increasing team morale and sales.

When it comes to encouraging your front of house team buy-in to sales targets, there’s no better way to do it than by gamifying selling. Before joining HGEM, I worked as a GM at a few large restaurants, including Browns, Ha Ha Bar & Grill and Jamie’s Italian. I found that introducing an element of fun made everybody’s shift more enjoyable and led to a big bump in sales.

Gamifying my team’s sales targets delivered significantly better results than straightforward goals, too. It also helped to improve the team dynamic and counter the ‘here we go again’ challenge of front of house staff motivation.

At HGEM, our research tells us that customers are adept at picking up on the atmosphere in a restaurant, hotel or bar. A team that has fun together is more fun to be around, and having an extra layer of social collaboration, or lighthearted competition, creates a more coherent, engaged team. As a result, there’s a knock-on benefit to guest experience.

The game I found most effective was menu-bingo. On a large piece of paper, we created 12 boxes with a variety of different food and drink items on. These sometimes included dishes created with ingredients the kitchen was overstocked in; highly perishable foods (salads, for example), specials, Irish coffees, or high value items such as Champagne. I would decide on what went into the boxes based on the time of year, and the particular food or drink that was at risk of wastage that day.

Once drawn-up, I would print off a copy of this sheet and give it to the whole team. The idea was to try to tick off every item before anyone else did, to get a ‘full house’ and win a prize. The incentive was usually a bottle of wine, which cost next to nothing to give, but the whole thing made the shift feel more fun. Sometimes, everyone who completed the sheet earnt a free drink at the end of a shift.

Another good upselling game that worked well when I was working in bars was ‘hold the note’ – this worked especially well when there was a particular high volume item on promotion that we needed to sell more of, a particular beer for example. Every time a team member sells an Corona, say, they take possession of a ten pound note. The person holding the note at the end of the shift gets to keep it.

Even tedious but necessary chores such as deep cleaning the cellar were made more fun by turning them into more of a game. I used to hide drinks tokens in hard to clean places, to ensure that a team member in charge of cleaning had done a thorough job, and add an element of incentive. I tended to tuck tokens underneath barrels and in dark corners.

Games are a great morale booster, particularly in hospitality where the hours are long and the pay is low. Anything that adds an element of fun and an extra incentive will improve team spirit and long term, the bottom line of the company. It’s the little things that help to create a workplace culture with a genuine sense of community – surely the holy grail in a business with an easy-come, easy-go retention problem. When selling feels like fun, everyone wins.

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