Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Art of Upselling

For those unfamiliar with the term, upselling is when a waitress (or any other type of salesperson) can talk the customer into purchasing something slightly better and more expensive than they initially asked for.

The company encourages us to do this because, in the end, it means more sales for them, a higher check average for us, and a more satisfied customer.

Yesterday, I worked an afternoon shift. People don't tend to order as much at lunch, so I had to make the most of the tables I did have.

Upselling is not just about offering the wonderful options. It needs to be done with a little finesse. Servers need to be able to read their guest to gauge the best way to approach the suggestions.

There is a certain stigmatism associated with words like loaded, smothered, king size, super size, monster, etc. So if a customer orders a baked potato, don't ask if they want it loaded. Explain the choice in descriptive words that make it harder to resist. Would you like cheese, bacon, and chives melted on the top of your potato?

You can always upsell by getting the customer to purchase a larger size of the item they already ordered. Many of our appetizers come in a regular and large size. When they are ordered, I don't ask if customers want small or large. I offer them 8 piece or 12. The same goes for our salads and several of our steaks. I offer by ounces. 16 ounces is a respectable size for a meal. But you have no idea how many people can't resist the thought of a 24 ounce plate of steak.

When you offer an appetizer or a dessert, be sure to have a specific one in mind.

Did anyone save room for some chocolate cheesecake?
Ohhh That does sound good. Hmmmm... All right...

It takes a bit of practice, but for the most part, I can raise my sales by quite a bit, just by knowing the menu, and discovering how the customers need to be approached. It definitely shows in my tips at the end of the night...


Green said...

I hate when people try to upsell to me. I wish there was a card I could put down on the table that said, "Please do not try to talk me into ordering anything I did not say I wanted."

Granted, I grew up with a dad who was in sales, so I'm a bit wary of over-eager salespeople, in any form (the Bath & Body Works people are high on my shit list for this).

heavenabove said...

I appreciate when servers tactfully upsell items. Plus it is pretty much a necessity in the restaurant business if you are gonna make any money. Being a good server is in itself an art.

banquet manager said...

I'm a banquet manager, and a very important part of my job is to upsell each and everyday. From extra coffee breaks, to a/v equipment. We're on the opposite sides of the business, but I feel your pain.

Good blog. Are you interested in linking to mine? I'll do the same. Visit:
So You Want To Be a Banquet Manager

Anonymous said...

Great blog on upselling.Not only does it enhance the guest's experience but is more likely to add some more money in your pocket too!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
purplegirl said...

I've been really working on my upselling lately; it's a fine line to walk between annoying them with too many offers and still suggesting the add-ons. What's been getting in my craw lately is the fact that so many people are completely oblivious to tipping on percentage!

I know theoretically every extra dollar I sell should be an extra dollar in my pocket. But it seems to me like most people, at least at my current restaurant, just sort of pick an arbitrary number. They say "Oh, $5 is good enough" or they round it up to the nearest five. It's making me feeling like this upselling stuff is useless.

MikeTheWaiterDotCom said...

a successful server will do just as you are suggesting. I, personally don't call it upselling... I call it providing my guests a more complete dining experience. They've come to your it's up to you to give them your best. They won't have a salad unless you suggest it. They won't have a dessert unless you suggest it. Three people might have a bottle of wine instead of 3 glasses.
Upselling, by any name is good for the guest,because they have a more complete dining experience, good for the house, because of increased sales...and good for you because your take home tips will be greater.
keep up the good work! mw

Anonymous said...

I hate upselling. I'm extremely aware of it because I used to atom for a chain restaurant. Here's a hint....if your customer refuses your upsell attempts more than once then STOP. Chances are we know what we want and are on to you. It does not 'enhance' my experience to be pestered with selling tactics.

Waitress4Life said...

After years of going back and forth between waitressing jobs, I finally lost the passwords to this blog... But I haven't given up! Or lost my absolute desire to share the JOYS of the restaurant world!!
Join me on the blog I CAN access and will be updating (hopefully!!) far more frequently in the near future!!
It's great to be back... I really need to vent! Waitress4Life