Restaurant Upselling



Upselling tries to convince customers to buy extra menu items or upgrade their current purchase. “Would you like fries with that?” is the classic example. Sometimes, upselling is also known as suggestive selling. If your servers and cashiers are not practicing upselling, it is time to show them how. Upselling is one of the quickest ways to improve profits without spending any extra money. Good upselling has the following results:

Increased check average. By selling more items and upgrades, you will increase the size of the average check in your restaurant.

More customer satisfaction. When your servers practice good suggestive selling, it results in better service, since customers are made aware of the best options that are available to them.

More profitable sales. In addition to selling more items or selling more expensive items, upselling can increase sales for menu items with the highest profit margins, as servers learn to recommend the most profitable items.

Better tips and job satisfaction for servers. Higher check averages means higher tip rates, which will make your servers happy.

What to Suggest

Servers and cashiers can help improve profits by encouraging customers to purchase the following items:

Drinks. At the beginning of the dining experience, servers can improve sales by suggesting drinks. One common upselling technique is for servers to ask, “Would you like bottled or carbonated water?” Although the customer can still request tap water, this suggestion increases the chances that they will purchase water instead. You should also make sure to upsell wine and/or beer at the beginning of service. Often, wine sales can be the main factor that increases profit margins.

Appetizers. At full-service restaurants, appetizers usually have good profit margins. They are also one of the easiest menu items to upsell. When the customer sits down, there is a good chance that they are already hungry. The server misses a great opportunity if they do not take advantage of this. Servers should be trained to offer vivid and enticing descriptions of appetizers to encourage the customers to act on their immediate hunger. For example, a server could say, “Would you like to try some of our crispy fried calamari? It comes with a tasty, zesty sauce, and it’s one of my personal favorites.”

Appropriate side dishes. Any time a customer orders anything that would go well with something else, servers should suggest the side dishes. For example, when a customer orders their main course, the waiter might ask, “Would you like soup or salad with that?” Or, if a customer orders chips and salsa, the server can mention how the guacamole is very tasty!

Desserts. If you are not training your servers to upsell, chances are you are not selling nearly as many desserts as you could. All servers should offer customers dessert after clearing the plates, describing the sweets in mouthwatering detail. Servers can even plant the idea of dessert while customers are finishing their meals by saying, “Don’t forget to save room for dessert, if you want some of our homemade pie.” If a table seems hesitant to indulge and order dessert, servers should recommend that the customers consider sharing a dessert, just to get a little taste.

Upgrades. At McDonald’s, you used to hear, “Would you like to super size that?” This is a classic example of upselling through upgrades. A full-service or quick-casual restaurant can also offer upgrades. For example, if a customer orders the fettuccine alfredo, the server might ask, “Would you like chicken on that?” to encourage the customer to pay another two dollars for adding meat. When a customer orders the plain guacamole, the server could say, “Would you like to try our mango guacamole for only a dollar more?”

Most profitable items. Servers should always be aware of which items on the menu are most profitable, so that they can try to suggestively sell them. For example, if servers know which main course is most profitable for the restaurant, when a customer asks for a recommendation, they can mention that item in addition to their true “favorite.” If servers know which dessert is most profitable, they can make sure to have a colorful description of it ready for when the customers finish their main course.

Use the above guidelines to train servers and cashiers in good suggestive selling techniques. Once they learn which items to upsell, they can start to tailor their upselling to the specific customer. Some customers want suggestions, and others want to be left alone. If servers grow capable enough to discern the difference, upselling will increase both profits and customer satisfaction at your restaurant. » Learn More Tips on How to Upsell in Your Restaurant


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