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The Magic of Upselling in Restaurants

“Would you like to have some fries or salad to go with that?”

That is the power of upselling, an essential tool that all restaurants, cafes, and even bars should take advantage of to maximise the potential of your menu items. Upselling is one of the most effective ways to increase your profits. While it is often perceived as a hard-selling tactic, there are ways to go about upselling to increase customer satisfaction and overall willingness to patronize your restaurant again.

Restaurant upselling is a method to encourage or influence customers to purchase higher-margin food items or add-ons. Whether it’s extra toppings on your pizza, or changing from the regular house red to a Cabernet, it’s a great way to entice your diners to spend a little more for a better dining experience.

Here are some tips to take note of when using the magic of upselling in your establishment.

A Well-Trained Team

Your team of staff is your bridge to your customers, the touchpoint for you to communicate your restaurant’s value to them. Henceforth, always have your team be careful to never be overtly pushy or pressurize your customers to purchase more. What you aim to do through upselling is to create added value to their experience dining with you, not to harras them to spend more. It could result in negative outcomes be it through reviews, losing potential long-term customers if your team ends up too pushy in their recommendations.

Rather than directly asking customers if they’d like to have an add-on as it is, it is better to indicate the “benefits” of doing so. For example, say your customer ordered a cheese platter and a simple house red to go with it. Having your staff know which cheese and wine go together could be beneficial because then they can relate to the customer which would be a better pair, ultimately creating an opportunity to upsell your menu.

There are instances where customers may be at a loss on what to order from your menu, especially if you have a wide variety of menu items. It’s at this time where a well-trained staff that is knowledgeable enough about the menu items, would be able to “sell”. You could package certain beverages or side dishes together with certain mains and create a food journey for the diners, and that’s something that they will remember your establishment for.

Using Descriptive Language in your Menu

Have you checked if your menu items are merely regurgitating the ingredients used in the item or are they creating imagery in your customer’s minds on how the meal will taste like? By using descriptive words like “rich flavour”, “citrusy, tangy”, “light and refreshing”, you can easily attract the attention of diners and entice them.

If your restaurant has a bar and offers alcoholic beverages like specialty cocktails and premium wines, knowing how to properly describe these drinks in a short and sweet sentence would definitely give you the plus points and greater potential to upsell higher-value items.

Strategizing Menu Items

Indicating the possibility of add-on items on your menu gives your staff more opportunity to upsell additional ingredients into main dishes. For example, if you’re a fast-casual restaurant selling burgers as your mains. The additional items written on your menu could include extra jalapenos, extra cheese, extra avocado, etc. Providing a substantial list of add-on ingredients allows your customers to customize their meals and create as they deem fit. Not only does this increase the overall spending in your restaurant, but customers may also see this as an experience with the ownership to customize their own meals.

Some other areas for upselling could be providing a choice between tap water or sparkling water, additional syrup flavourings for coffee like vanilla, chocolate, or matcha powder. There are plenty of options available and it is up to you to create the best upselling experience for your diners. The key is to remember not to be annoying when suggesting these add-ons and these additional ingredients or food items should be complementary with your main dish and not something that will ruin the taste of it.

Know what your Regulars want

Statistics point out that it’s easier to upsell to customers that frequent your establishment. And this is part of creating a relationship with them and again, a customer happiness tactic. Once you’ve noticed that your regular customers have been ordering the same dish, maybe get your staff to have a conversation with them to understand what they like most about that dish, what flavours they’re looking for in their meal and what other dishes of higher-margin that you can recommend to them. There’s no harm striking up a conversation to understand your diners better and this could be useful and beneficial in the long run. Not only will they remember you for your food, but they’ll also remember you for providing a great service and experience for them dining at your establishment. A definite win-win situation.

Of course, it’s not easy remembering what items are ordered by who, if you can recognize their faces that’s for the best, but if you can’t, that’s exactly what restaurant marketing management systems are best for. There are plenty out there that can provide you with the relevant information and insights you need on your customers to one-up your current services on top of this upselling method.


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