Increase Your Restaurant Revenues With Smart Restaurant Upselling Techniques In 2023

Increase Your Restaurant Revenues through these Restaurant Upselling Techniques

No matter how great business is at your bar or restaurant, chances are you would like to make more money. One of the easiest ways to do this is through Restaurant Upselling, or convincing customers to upgrade their current purchase or buy more items. Restaurant Upselling is a common strategy for restaurants to boost their profits. Upselling is more than sales; it requires perception, knowledge, and discretion. At its best, upselling can look less like sales and more like customer service and effective techniques should be subtle enough to avoid annoying the customer or making them feel pestered. 

How to Employ Restaurant Upselling to Garner More Sales

‘Would you like fries with that?’ This simple line has made millions of dollars for McDonald’s, and in its essence, is what upselling in restaurants is all about: simple, effective, casual.

Let us break this line into the three elements- Would you like fries with that?

It’s a simple question, right? Burger and fries go together, of course, no big deal. Even if someone hadn’t planned on buying the chips, now the thought has been sowed into their head and most probably instilled an impulsive craving for them. Effective. And just a casual, throwaway line. Not pushy.

In the article below we have covered the smart tips of restaurant upselling which you must try, that would boost your restaurant revenues to a great extent!

1. Train Your Staff for Restaurant Upselling

Make sure all your servers know how vital restaurant upselling is and how to do it. Routinely go over the new information with them and ensure that they see the menu entirely, including the original items, and the details of all the things. Be sure your servers know which topics they should focus on. For example, you might have a new dessert menu that you want to push, or you might want to focus on selling pricier drinks.

Be confident and adopt the role of a connoisseur rather than a salesperson – in other words, the staff or server taking the order should know your menu inside and out! When customers ask for recommendations, informed answers along with items that pair well with the dish, such as a particular wine or side item. This will position your upsell efforts in a positive light and would not make your shots look too sales-y, and in turn, add to the credibility of your restaurant and help you gain positive reviews.

(i) Build Rapport First 

If customers do not seem sure about what they are going to order, you are more likely to be able to upsell. Are they taking a long time to look at the menu or asking a lot of questions? Sometimes customers might have a lot of questions before they decide to check out dessert or get a more expensive entree. Be patient and answer every question they might have! Your excellent service will pay off. Patience is the key to maintain and nurture the best relations with customers.

(ii) Read the Customer

Upselling should always be approached with intuition. Train your wait staff to pay close attention to customer cues. For example, if a table of customers seem to be enjoying leisurely chatter and aren’t in a rush to leave, suggest coffee and a dessert special. It’s an easy opportunity to promote your dessert menu without being pushy about it.

Takeout options can be a great upselling technique. Maybe your customers are too full to eat dessert right now, but they can order it and bring it home for later.

The waiters can also ask to suggest the option of larger sizes. Let’s say your customers have the choice between ordering a small-sized coffee and a regular-sized coffee. When they are ordering, you might try asking, “And do you want the regular coffee?” Of course, any customer who is set on ordering a small coffee is welcome to say so, which they might, but many times customers will agree with what you asked.

(iii) Upsell High-Profit Items

A typical restaurant upselling technique is to offer more expensive items than the ones the customer initially ordered. This tactic is most effective when it is not apparent. To push up the bill, servers should know the profit margins and prices of each item on the menu. For example, if a customer asks for a particular dessert, and you have another dessert of the same price but a higher profit margin, your server should suggest it to the customers.

Employ Part Time Help In Restaurant

2. Menu Upselling

If you have a well-designed menu, half your task of upselling is already done. The restaurant menu should be designed in such a way that your high-profit items are positioned clearly, and catch the customers’ eye. For example, most customers usually read the menu from the top right corner. It is a good idea to place your high selling and high-profit-margin items there. Menu descriptions also play an essential role in upselling food items. Your menu descriptions should be clear, short, and be able to evoke temptations in the customers to order that particular item. Read how you can utilize customer psychology in creating a menu design to upsell your food. 

(i) Utilize The Power of Positioning

If you are not much for verbal upselling techniques, you’ll love this tip. The arrangement of the images and text on your menu possesses lots of persuasion power if positioned correctly. Positioning items that you wish to upsell next to or below other items (or even on the same plate) can naturally persuade your customer to order complimentary items.

For example, place homemade tomato soup next to a grilled cheese sandwich or a glass of red wine next to a sizzling steak dish. There’s a reason why you never see a picture of a McDonald’s burger without a side of fries.

(ii) Introduce Changes in the Menu According to Festivals

Bringing in slight changes to your menu to be in tune with the various festivals can be a great way of marketing for your restaurant. Such an upselling strategy has been seen on numerous occasions as well, more recently, in 2016, Domino’s used this strategy and came up with a ‘Navaratri Combo’ which offered consumers unique recipes and ingredients widely used during the festival. Behrouz Biriyani too increased their variety of biriyanis for the month of Ramzan.

3. Employ Marketing to Upsell

Marketing is the best way to upsell your products. Thus, it is essential that your restaurant can locate and implement the best possible marketing strategies that would lead to informed customers which will, in turn, lay the foundation of a promising relationship between the restaurants and the customers.

(i) Display Menu Specials

It can be confusing for customers to decide what to order, especially for first-time customers or the ones who haven’t tried out the new specials in your menu. It is a good idea to have displays of your Specials on every table to attract the attention of your customers. Often customers end up ordering on an impulse; which can be instigated by displaying tantalizing images of your dishes on the menu board.

(ii) Give Free Samples to Upsell

While this works better for casual or fast-food dining, it can be utilized at more formal food establishments as well. If you run a juice bar, place a tray of acai bowl samples at the register. Manage a gastro-pub? Encourage bar hoppers to come in for tapas by putting a member of your wait staff outside of the entrance with tasty bites of your best-seller.

4. Utilize Technology for Restaurant Upselling

A restaurant that is not utilizing Customer Data is missing out on lots of upselling opportunities. There is a lot of customer data that your restaurant deals with every day, such as customer details and ordering preferences, and it is essential to store, analyze and utilize that data for further upselling opportunities.

(i) Upsell Online Orders

Online Ordering allows you to reach a whole new customer base that you may not encounter organically. Promoting items by mentioning that “customers that ordered this, also ordered…” has been an effective upselling technique. Also, it is likelier that online orders are for larger groups of people, which means a higher return per ticket.

(ii) Use Your POS to Upsell

Restaurant technology has evolved leaps and bounds over the last few years. You can use the humble Point of Sale software for more than just billing. Integrated with the CRM, the POS holds essential customer data that helps servers with the suggestions to order specific items. Based on the ordering history and customer details, your staff can suggest and upsell items.

With these essential tips and restaurant upselling techniques, you can ensure that upselling provides your restaurant with a nice additional revenue flow, without compromising on the quality of the customer’s experience!

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Prachi is the Marketing Manager at Restroworks. In her current capacity, she establishes connections with key stakeholders in the F&B industry and serves as the host of The Restaurant Times talk show, "F&B Talks," tailored for the restaurant sector. With hands-on experience in international sales and marketing, Prachi has led initiatives in the LATAM and USA regions, contributing to the platform's global outreach.


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