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Fundamental Upselling Strategies for the Restaurant

Fundamental Upselling Strategies for the Restaurant

martini poured into martini glass Upselling is essentially a practice of embellished suggestions aimed at getting the guest to spend more money. It is a valuable marketing strategy in any restaurant, but it must be trained and practiced in order to be effective as a sales technique. Restaurant servers, cashiers and kitchen staff who have contact with the customer should know appropriate and effective ways to upsell menu items. These useful methods for upselling in the restaurant will help increase sales and tip money.

How to Upsell

Upselling is the art of enticing customers to buy something extra without them knowing you are selling something.

Offer Multiple Suggestions
Workers can upsell whether they work in a quick-service restaurant or a swanky lounge. Here are two prime examples:

  • At Wendy's, the worker at the cash register will usually ask the customer if he would like to "Biggie size" his order. This means getting a bigger drink and bigger order of fries for a few extra cents. The customer often feels as though he is getting more bang for his buck, even though he probably did not want the bigger size to begin with.
  • A guest asks the bartender for a vodka martini. Rather than simply taking the order, the bartender asks, "Which type of vodka would you prefer? We offer Grey Goose and Svedka." The bartender brings up two of the most expensive varieties of vodka in order to upsell to the guest, or get him to pay more for his martini.
Use Embellished Descriptions
Servers and restaurant workers can upsell by describing the ingredients, cooking process or presentation of a dish as a means to entice customers and convince them to buy. Often, servers will not actually ask a question but simply launch into descriptions to whet their guests' subconscious appetites. Make the items sound exciting by trying the following methods:

  • Suggest an appetizer by explaining the ingredients and preparation with vidid language. For instance, say "You will find our appetizers especially intriguing, including the broiled goat-cheese quesadillas which are sprinkled with pepper and thyme and served piping hot."
  • If a diner is already sure of what he wants, ask him if we would consider any sides to go with his meal. To a diner ordering chips and salsa, a server might say, "A side of our fabulous guacamole would complement your chips and salsa, since it is prepared with fresh avocados and tomatoes, as well as our signature spices." Describing the side as a smart attachment to the meal is a great way to make the meal seem incomplete without the extra purchase.
Five Keys for Upselling Dessert Items
Wine Pairing
Wine can provide an excellent complement to a meal. Hence, wine pairing is a great way to upsell to your customers.

However, satisfying the customer's palate with a well-paired wine requires training, experience and extensive knowledge of both the food and wine menus.

Taking the time to learn about food and wine pairings can improve the customers's dining experience and make even more sales for the restaurant.

Desserts in particular are lucrative but challenging items to upsell. The guest is often satisfied from the main entrée and may not ask for dessert directly. Listed below are five popular strategies for upselling desserts:

1. Present dessert menus after lunch or dinner. Bring out dessert menus for each diner after clearing dinner plates. Seeing the descriptions and ordering from a menu may make the guests feel more in control of their choices.

2. Use vivid descriptions. Describe a few of the dessert specials using vivid imagery to appeal to the guests.

3. Bring out the dessert tray. Utilize a dessert tray to show guests how tasty the desserts look.

4. Offer low-calorie options. Do not forget to offer low calorie dessert options, which may sway diners who are trying to watch their figures. Also suggest coffee or tea.

5. Show off your desserts. When someone does order a dessert item, be sure servers or runners carry it at table level. This way, other diners can see and smell the dessert and may be convinced to order one of their own.


How to Integrate Upselling Strategies into Training Sessions

Upselling does not always come naturally. Make upselling part of the training regimen by offering tips and suggestions to restaurant workers and servers at the start of every shift, as well as during initial training sessions. Managers and lead servers can help their staff learn to upsell by following these suggestions:

  • Allow servers to taste menu items. Provide opportunities for servers to taste menu items, including daily specials.
  • Train in menu knowledge. Make menu knowledge a priority, so servers can speak intelligently about the preparation and quality of food.
  • Suggest vivid descriptions. Offer ideas for how to use colorful language when describing dishes. For example, avoid simply offering "a slice of chocolate pie" and instead upsell "an exquisite slice of delicate chocolate mousse pie with a drizzle of caramel." The second description makes a big difference.
  • Role-play with servers. Role-play with servers to demonstrate how to ask questions or offer more items
  • Provide rewards. Hold contests and offer incentives for servers who sell the most dessert or daily special, giving food or gift cards as prizes.

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