Connections for Success



Up-Selling to Increase Your Restaurant’s Revenues
James Pellino

Pick up a local newspaper or browse your local deal or restaurant websites and you’ll find an array of elaborate and unique restaurant promotional campaigns to attract more customers.   Restaurateurs spend countless hours and dollars developing ideas on how to increase their restaurants’ sales by increasing the foot traffic that is coming into their establishments.

While increasing the sheer volume of customers is a sure-fire way to increase restaurant sales, there is another avenue restaurateurs often overlook.  Statics show that 30%-60% of all customers can be easily up-sold at the time of purchase.

Up-selling certainly isn’t a new concept, but it often takes a back seat in restaurateurs’ minds even though it is an easy way to vastly improve your revenue.  Think about it, the customers who’ve come to your restaurant have already decided that they want to spend money at your establishment.  By training your sales staff (you should always think of your servers and front help as your sales staff) to say the right things, you can see significant increases in your average bill.

Wording is very important in an up-sell, so it is important that you train your staff to phrase things in an appealing way.  Let’s take a couple at an Italian restaurant for an example.  Their server asks them, “Would you like to share an order of calamari while you’re waiting for your lasagna and gnocchi?”  The key word the server used was “share.”  Everybody likes to share something with someone they care about.  The word “share” also tends to lend itself to memories of pleasant experiences, which is exactly what you want your customers to feel when they dining with you.  The above question works much better than simply saying, “Would you like to start with an appetizer?”

Although using the phrase “would you like” in the above example worked great when the server followed it up with “to share,” servers should be taught not to use “would you like” when up-selling unless it is immediately followed by “to share” or “to treat.”  When a server asks a customer “would you like…”, it takes the customer out of buying mode and asks the customer to make a decision.  If a customer orders a burger, the server should simply say “bacon on that?” instead of “would you like bacon on that?”  It may seem trivial but the first phrase flows better and doesn’t cause a pause in the customer’s ordering.

Below are a few other tips/strategies that you may want to share with your sales staff:

  • When listing your specials, don’t start with the lowest price option.  Start with the most expensive and work your way down.  It’s also helpful if staff is given an opportunity to taste dishes that they are recommending.
  • Work with staff to understand how to pair high-end cocktails and wines with their entrees.
  • Refrain from saying something is “a dollar extra.”  Have your server say, “it’s only another dollar.”
  • Customers often look to the server for advice on what to order.  Make sure your staff is familiar with the menu and which items are most profitable.  Have your staff use phrases like “most people like…..” instead of “everything is good.”
  • Have your servers use “plus” instead of “and” when explaining what is included in a meal.  It gives the customer the perception that they are getting more value.

Because increasing revenue is always the goal, restaurateurs should take the time to talk to staff and train them on how to take advantage of up-selling opportunities using simple phrasing techniques.

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