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Be Ready for the Jackpot Table!

It was Wednesday night in January when I was waiting tables at New Heights at the corner of Connecticut and Calvert in DC. Overlooking the Shoreham Hotel, the restaurant was beautifully appointed with handcrafted chairs, halogen lights, and stained glass partitions. With two tops filled, I could hardly wait for my large corner table to be seated. Then at 8 p.m., Julien, the host, escorted a group of well-dressed guests to my 13-top. And, I saw dollar signs and heard “cha-ching.”

Read Cues and Set the Stage

I stopped, made eye contact and read the style and mood of the arriving guests. Helping to seat them I scanned the table for the leader/buyer, when a man wearing what appeared to be a fine Italian suit and with tiny beads of sweat on his forehead opened, “I’m Mr. Simon, president of Simon and Schuster.” “I’m Bob Brown,” I replied with a handshake. “Bob, I’ve been held captive for days with these 12 nut cases from Canadian Publishing, and I need your help to close the deal,” he pleaded.

Offer a Top-of-the-Line Meal Plan

“Don’t worry. I have a plan. We’ll begin with cocktails prepared with top-shelf vodkas, gins, tequilas, bourbons, and rums. For white wine drinkers an endless supply of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, and Pinot Grigio. For red lovers, an endless supply of Cabernet, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, and Zinfandel. Mr. Simon nodded, “I like the sound of that.”  I thought to myself, I like the sound of that, too!  

Within moments, the table was bursting with spirited conversation. I kept pouring wine, and his head kept shaking “yes”—because 60 to 90 percent of the time guests buy exactly what you tell them.

Then, Mr. Simon pulled me aside. His face now full of sweat he asked, “OK, Bob, what are we going to do now?” “Don’t worry, Mr. Simon. I have a plan. Chef Allison Swope will prepare platters of gorgeous appetizers along with signature soups, salads, entrées, and side dishes,” I encouraged. As I kept pouring the wine, his head kept nodding “yes.”

After the feast, I cleared the table—because the more you clear, the more you sell.

Create a ‘Blow Your Mind’ Finale

Mr. Simon pulled me aside one last time, “Are we almost there? I need a knock your socks off ending.” “I have a plan. David Gotter, our pastry chef, makes desserts so beautiful you’ll look at ‘em, not eat ‘em. I’ll bring snifters of Sambuca, Frangelico, Amaretto, Gran Marnier, and Baileys, along with Louis XIII.” “Sounds good, but not good enough,” he countered. “Then how about French-pressed coffees from the Blue Mountains of Jamaica, man?” I offered. “Not, enough,” Mr. Simon resisted. “OK, then I’ll have my fellow servers, Julie, Brett and Wayne; surround the table, each with a bottle of vintage Cristal Champagne. Then, I’ll propose a toast, and you’ll close the deal,” I retorted.

Moments later, I heard the popping of Champagne when a drunken wise guy, clinking two glasses, beat me to the punch. “Mr. Simon, we at Canadian Publishing are pleased, proud, and privileged to announce we’ll be working with you for the next 10 years.” What did Mr. Simon do? He jumped up and kissed me—on the lips!

Provide a Fond Farewell

But, I had to remember that selling begins—and ends—at the door. So, I helped the guests with their belongings; moved the table for their comfortable departure; and escorted the wobbly guests down the steps into the cold night and across the street to the Shoreham. There was a tap-tap on my shoulder. It was Mr. Simon, who shook my hand and offered his business card, “Mr. Brown that was the finest piece of selling I’ve seen in years. So, I’m going to ask Mildred, my secretary to have our Citation jet flown down to bring you to New York, where I’ll put you up at the Drake Hotel. You have the magic—that special gift of sales DNA. So, with a little training, you’ll become a millionaire in months.” I was shocked (and never heard from him again). Then, the drunken wise guy from Canadian Publishing handed me a hundred dollar bill. Bidding them adieu, I walked up the steps and thanked Julie, Brett, Wayne, and Julien. At Mr. Simon’s seat, I found my scorecard: the American Express voucher, the check for $4,000 and the tip—$1,500.

In spite of desperate times, there are those with means who are tired of endless tragic news. They want you to take them to the top. And, when Mr. Jackpot drops in, you had best be prepared to make the most of a glorious opportunity.

About the Author

Bob Brown, president of Bob Brown Service Solutions, www.bobbrownss.com, pioneered Marriott’s Service Excellence Program. He has worked with clients such as Disney, Hilton, Morton’s of Chicago, Nordstrom, Olive Garden, and Ritz Carlton and works internationally with the prestigious Burj Al Arab in Dubai. He has appeared on the Food Network and is author of the bestselling The Little Brown Book of Restaurant Success, selling over 100,000 copies worldwide. Contact Bob for keynotes, workshops, breakouts, and executive retreats at 571-246-2944 ©Bob Brown Service Solutions 2016.

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