Many professional athletic teams have one or two stand-out players that get more recognition than all of the other players on the team. For example, most professional and college basketball teams typically have one player that is the “go-to guy” who is always getting interviewed and talked about by fans and news media outlets because he is the best player on the team. A player may be the best athlete in the world, but without his or her team members, that person is nothing. 1 excellent athlete cannot overpower 5 great athletes working as a team. This also applies to food challenges. A restaurant hosting a food challenge is a team effort, and it takes everyone on your restaurant staff doing their part and working as a team to make your challenge successful. Some jobs are more important than others, but it takes your entire team being on the same page to really get people excited about it so that new and existing customers keep trying and sharing it so that it never gets old.

As the restaurant owner, you are the coach of your team and it is your job to keep your team members all on the same page working together to keep selling your challenge and getting customers to come in and order it. Here is a breakdown of how your entire team works together to make your food challenge a very successful one:

Hosts & Hostesses – The hosts and hostesses are in charge of greeting and seating the customers, so if you have a special area in your restaurant that you want challenges to take place, they need to direct challengers to the proper area. This typically doesn’t happen with 1 star and smaller 2 star challenges, but most people specifically coming in to attempt larger challenges are so excited that they mention that they are there for the challenge when they first check-in with the host or hostess. The host(ess) needs to make sure that person gets seated in a good spot, and he or she may want to let a manager know so that the manager can warn the chefs and waiter or waitress that will be serving that customer. The host(ess) typically has a much more important job though, which is answering the phones. If your restaurant hosts a challenge, especially one that requires people to call ahead in advance, people will be calling to make reservations and also to ask questions about it. Whether in person or on the phone, your host(ess) is the first contact that your customers are greeted by. This person needs to know all the major details of your challenge, and some minor ones too. There are no exceptions to this rule!!

I’ve called hundreds and hundreds of restaurants, and it is absolutely amazing how many people answering the phone don’t know anything about their own restaurant’s food challenge. Some don’t even know they have a challenge. Nothing says that your restaurant does not care about its challenge than a person on your staff not knowing that there even is one, or not even knowing what the challenge is. Either you or the manager needs to make sure that the people answering your phones know the main challenge details so they can can quickly and professionally answer customer questions. Being able to personally answer the questions sounds a lot better than having to read the details off the menu too. If you require challengers to give prior notice, make sure your host(ess) knows what details you are looking for. You would not buy a product from a salesman that had zero knowledge of the product he was selling, and people are not going to be storming in to buy your challenge if your “salesperson” answering the phones doesn’t know anything about your challenge. When I call up a place for details and the person gives me more details than I even want to know, it shows that I wasn’t the first person to ask about the challenge, and that many people have asked before me. That makes me definitely want to try the challenge!! So whether your host(ess) has been there 1 year or 1 day, make sure he or she knows the challenge details so that your restaurant can look a lot more professional when people ask questions about the details.

Waiters & Waitresses – Your hosts and hostesses get the most general questions about the challenge from customers, but your waiters and waitresses are your main salespeople that sell your menu and challenge to the customers that they are serving. Your servers should also know about the challenge so that they can answer questions and also make sure that the challenge is ordered correctly. Since the food costs are more expensive for challenges typically, you don’t want the challenge prepared wrong. A table may not want to try the challenge but they may be interested in it, so hopefully your server can tell them a story or two of past challengers. This might make them want to come back and watch a person try it or get them to tell a friend or family member that they think can beat the challenge. Also, the server is who takes care of the challenger and is also usually the timekeeper (some restaurants have the bartender keep time). An eater doesn’t want to be waiting on beverages or anything else if he or she is running out of time. Your servers need to know about the challenge, and care about it enough to want to keep checking on challengers while they are eating. They are the key to making sure your customers that take the challenge have a pleasurable experience, even if they don’t win. If your servers in general show excitement during the challenge, this will lead to a more exciting atmosphere for customers too. If a server acts rude and inconvenienced, people will not want to try it, so make sure this doesn’t ever happen.

Cooks & Chefs – Your chefs are not directly involved with selling the challenge, but they are definitely the key to getting people excited about ordering your challenge. If a challenge is delicious and looks just like it tastes, then more people are going to want to order and try it, and also more people will want to share it via social media. Nobody will want to try your challenge if the rumor is that the meat is dry and tastes terrible, so make sure your chefs are just as excited about it as everyone else when they prepare the challenge. They have to know how to time everything correctly and put all the parts together so that the meal comes out fresh and photo-worthy. Its also good to have the chef come out and check how the challenger is doing, just to show that he or she cares (if the chefs aren’t completely to excited to watch already). If the chef isn’t on board and excited to cook the challenge, it will more than likely not taste as good as it could have, and nobody wants to eat a lot of something they don’t like. As an eater, I enjoy taking photos with the cooks after winning, and thanking them.

Person(s) in charge of social media – If you are not the person controlling all of your restaurant’s social media yourself, then you need to make sure your people in charge are on board and actively promoting the challenge via social media, especially Facebook. When individuals or groups order the challenge, a picture should be taken and posted online (if everyone in the picture is okay with that). Give your fans updates during the challenge (before, halfway, and after). Showing excitement online will get more customers excited about trying your challenge. For tips on promoting your eating challenge via the internet and social media, click here.

Restaurant Managers – Your managers need to be overseeing the challenge and making sure everything runs smoothly. They also need to make sure that everyone else in the restaurant is happy too. If the manager is checking on the challengers, they will feel special which will make the experience even better. The manager also needs to make sure the rest of the staff knows about the challenge and all recent updates if there are any so that everyone is on the same page. Additionally, your managers need to make sure that the Wall Of Fame is kept up to date by whoever is in charge. If you and the managers are excited about the challenge and show that you care, the rest of the restaurant staff will get excited too because true excitement is very contagious.

None of the roles are difficult at all, but a food challenge will not be successful if everyone is not on board and excited about it. It is so easy to tell when a restaurant is excited about their challenge and when a restaurant just doesn’t care. The difference is night and day, and sometimes you can tell the difference in my videos too. If the restaurant doesn’t care, I definitely don’t get too excited during and after the challenge because there isn’t much reason to be since they aren’t. Challenges with hundreds of attempts have that many because the restaurant was proud of the challenge and therefore more people wanted to join in. As the owner, your first job is to create the challenge so that it has the opportunity to be successful. Once all that is done, you need to get your team on board and informed so that your restaurant can successfully market the new challenge to the people in your restaurant and individuals that call. Your team working together will achieve great results!!

Thanks for reading why successful food challenges are a team effort and for using!!

To go back and view other Marketing A Challenge articles, click here.