5 Ways You Can Use Your Restaurant Menu To Upsell Your Food

You Can Use Your Restaurant Menu to Upsell Your Food

The restaurant menu is one particular piece that people who walk into your restaurant are going to see. Just like your business card, a restaurant menu is a reflection of the restaurant, so it is essential that menus are designed well and showcases everything your restaurant is. Also, it is an excellent tool for advertising and plays a significant role in the decision-making process of what the customer wants to eat. Hence, a restaurant menu can be a great tool to upsell your food. You can also try these use full restaurant upselling tips that are sure to bring in more business.

How To Upsell Food And Drinks In Restaurants Using Restaurant Menu

There are many reasons why you should upsell your food and drinks in your restaurant. Not only does it increase profits but puts your best dishes out. When customers try something new at your restaurant, and they like it, they will talk about it, and this would create a cycle of upselling. If you want to know more about why you should practice upselling in your restaurant, click here.

Upselling in restaurants can be done in many ways. You can train your wait staff to upsell your items, turn your regulars to your brand ambassadors or even use your menu design. Here are a few tips on how to upsell food through a restaurant menu.

1. Divide the Items

Your menu needs to be short and concise; customers don’t like spending too much time reading long menus. Since a customer will look at the menu for approximately 109 seconds before defaulting to the most basic item, if you want to sell a particular food item to your customer, emphasise it through design. You can use a box or a different shade or typography or even an asterisk to catch their consideration. Customers tend to choose things that grab their attention, emphasising the crucial dishes will ensure that. Here is a guide to using customer psychology to design your restaurant menu.

How to decide on what should be highlighted?

To decide how your upselling strategy should be created, you can use the concept of the menu matrix. Here, you create a graph based on the popularity and profitability of every dish on your menu. It is beneficial to understand your menu items in terms of sales volume and income. Each of your dishes falls into below mentioned four categories.

  • Stars- Items that fall into this category are the ones which have high popularity and profitability. These are the items that need to be stressed upon.
  • Plow-Horses/Cash Cows– These items yield low profitability but are high on the popularity scale, so you don’t need to remind your customer’s that these items exist. They will most likely order one of these themselves.
  • Puzzles- These items need to be strongly underscored on your menu and also recommended by your wait staff because these items have high profitability but low popularity. You can even think about renaming or repackage these dishes if they are not selling.
  • Dogs/Duds- They are low profitability and low popularity items that you may need to update or cut off from the menu.

2. Restaurant Menu Descriptions

A well-written restaurant menu description can do all the upselling in your restaurant especially if the restaurant brings in a different cuisine that people are not very aware of.  It needs to be short but appetising and should put across all the necessary information about the dish like significant ingredients and what makes it unique. You must not exclude common allergens from your description. Find out how to write mouth-watering menu descriptions that tempt customers to spend more here. 

A well written description can do wonders for the food items

3. Menu Item Photos

If you decide to include photos in your menu, you need to make sure that you hire a professional photographer to click the images as food photography is not as easy as it looks. It can do wonders with your menu, but it can also make a food item look completely unappetizing.  So, it is imperative that you pick your photos carefully as it can be an excellent tool to accentuate certain dishes. But, this can be a very risky decision. Sometimes it is just better to leave it up to the customer’s imagination, and description can play a vital role in that.

4. Menu Design

The critical thing to remember when designing your menu so that it upsells food and drink in your restaurant is that you need to focus on what you would like to sell in the first place. You can go the traditional way of categorising the menu like in order of consumption or separate menu for drinks and food. But, if you decide not to go the traditional way, your menu categories should serve a purpose.  There has to be some sense and meaning to your food groups because customers tend to like organised menus; a confusing and illogically organised menu is going to annoy a customer because menus are supposed to be easy to navigate through. Also, remember that every category should include the most profitable items and should be listed first and the list should be in a descending order based on their profitability.

5. Correct Way of Menu Pricing

Well, to include or not include the price on the restaurant menu is a very crucial decision to make for the restaurateur. If you leave it out, customers will tend to spend more because you may be allowing them to forget that they are spending money.

But, if you decide to put it on the restaurant menu; now the dilemma is where to place it. If you put it on the side of the menu, customers will tend to compare prices and tend to pick the items that are less expensive, and their decision will be driven only by price. But there is a solution to this problem, try to place the price below the description. Hence, the decision-driving factor will be about the dish instead of the price. Here’s a definitive guide to menu pricing that is also going to help you control your food costs.

If you want to upsell food in your restaurant successfully, give your menu 100% per cent attention; it is one of the most important pieces of advertising. So, every bit of your menu is crucial from the design to the words to the colours, everything reflects on the success of your restaurant. Your menu has to be creative but easy to follow, and it has to be everything that your restaurant is. So take a critical look at your restaurant menu and make the changes that help you upsell your food.

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Daniel McCarthy is a seasoned restaurant consultant and serves as the Communication Manager at Restroworks, a prominent F&B SaaS company. Drawing from his vast knowledge of leveraging innovative technological solutions, Daniel excels at enhancing restaurant operations and revenue, thereby contributing to the ongoing transformation of the industry.


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