Restaurant Experience

24 Oct 2023

Boosting Server Performance: Vendor Incentives that Work

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Isabel Carter

Effective servers not only create a positive dining experience for customers but also play a pivotal role in a restaurant's profitability. While training and management practices are essential for enhancing server performance, the role of food service vendors in motivating servers cannot be underestimated. 

In this article, we'll explore innovative and effective vendor incentives that contribute to elevating server motivation and performance in the restaurant industry.

The Most Underutilized Strategy for Foodservice Vendors

Food service vendors are indispensable to restaurant operations. They supply restaurants with the ingredients, beverages, and various supplies required to prepare and serve their menu items. A productive and cooperative relationship between food service vendors and restaurants is vital for the smooth functioning of both entities.

Vendor incentives encourage servers to promote their products and align with their brand. When servers are motivated to upsell or recommend specific menu items, it can lead to increased revenue for both the restaurant and the vendor. Let's delve into some vendor incentives that have proven to be effective.

Sales Contests and Prizes

Sales contests with attractive prizes have been a time-tested method to motivate servers. These contests encourage servers to sell more of the vendor's products. Prizes can include cash rewards, gift cards, vacation packages, and consumer electronics. These incentives provide servers with tangible rewards for their efforts, stimulating them to promote the vendor's products.

Commissions and Bonuses

Offering servers a commission or bonus for every sale of a particular vendor's product can be a powerful incentive. This approach directly ties server performance to their income, encouraging them to actively suggest and promote the vendor's items. Restaurants often share a portion of the increased revenue generated from vendor product sales with the servers.


Product Knowledge Workshops

Vendor-provided product knowledge workshops are instrumental in enhancing server performance. When servers have an in-depth understanding of a vendor's products, they can confidently recommend them to customers. These workshops educate servers about the ingredients, flavor profiles, and benefits of the vendor's items, making them more likely to upsell.

Merchandising Support

Food service vendors can also provide restaurants with merchandising support, including promotional materials like posters, table tents, and digital displays. This not only makes it easier for servers to promote the vendor's products but also creates an enticing dining atmosphere that can lead to increased sales.

Vendor-Sponsored Special Events

Collaboration between vendors and restaurants in hosting special events can be a win-win situation. Whether it's a wine tasting evening, a product launch, or a themed night, these events draw in customers and create opportunities for servers to showcase the vendor's offerings. Such events can generate excitement and boost server motivation.

Loyalty Programs

Vendor-sponsored loyalty programs offer servers the chance to earn points or rewards based on the volume of vendor products they sell. These programs encourage long-term engagement and can foster a sense of loyalty among servers towards the vendor.


Vendor incentives are a powerful tool for boosting server performance in the restaurant industry. When food service vendors partner with restaurants and provide creative incentives, servers become motivated to actively promote their products. As a result, restaurants benefit from increased revenue, while vendors strengthen their relationships with establishments that serve as valuable distribution channels.