Tips for Upselling Success
So many servers are afraid to make suggestions because they don’t want to seem pushy. But the goal of upselling is really to enhance the guest’s experience.
Address this attitude by pointing out that you want your guests to have the best possible experience they are ready to have. Upselling is a way to educate and inform the guest about their opportunities to improve their experience.
The bonus ends up being that the customer tends to spend more money, which results in a higher ticket and better tip. So really, everyone benefits. And when done right, it’s not received as pushy at all.
Here are some guidelines for enhancing the guest experience through upselling:
Read your customer
• Understand the context of the visit. Three men loosening their ties late on Friday are likely in the mood for beer or happy hour. Women with shopping bags will likely want sparkling or coffee drinks. Guests doing business do not need to hear a description of sauces or desserts. Know your audience.
• Ask guests if they have been here before, guide newcomers through the menu and point out changes to repeat diners.
• Knowing birthdays and anniversaries will help sell sparkling drinks and desserts.
• Keep personal preferences to yourself, you might not want dessert after a big meal, but your guests might.
• Suggest sharing and then talk about your favorite or “our signature.”
• When finished, follow up and seal the relationship, not the deal.
When upselling can backfire
• Don’t bombard your guests with unnecessary information or too many choices early in the selling phase. Build rapport, then engage and inform.
• Avoid blanket phrases like: “Everything is good here!”or “Take a look at the menu and I’ll be back.” This shows lack of knowledge and preparation.
• NO DIRTY MENUS! Menus are sales tools and dirty ones are a turnoff.
• Fact: 65 percent of people have no idea what to order.
• Gauge the mood. If they are looking at a drink list or wine list, it shows they have interest.
• “Are you in the mood for something fun?” This opens their minds to an upsell.
• “I’ll have a vodka and tonic.” This begs for an upsell; ask, “What’s your preference?” Then suggest brands.
• On reorders say, “If you liked brand X then you may want to try brand Y; it has a smoother finish.”
• If a guest specifies a $30 bottle of wine, suggest three with one under that price. Explain the qualities and what food they go with.
• Prevent sticker shock with phrases like, “it costs a little more” or “our premium scotch.”
• Everyone wants to be noticed, so touch tables and remember, anyone who approaches a table has the opportunity to upsell.
• Connect people to the experience they are having and use it to invite them to come again. “If you liked the scallops, next time try the salmon.”
Remember, we are in the business to serve and exceed expectations. Approach your guests with this attitude and you will avoid breaching their trust.