When done poorly, service staff can come across as pushy and ‘salesy’, off putting for all but the most hardened patron and devastating for the restaurant. When done well, however, upselling increases patron / guest satisfaction and loyalty, while improving the bottom line. Here are some top tips for food and beverage leaders to improve the chances of upselling from their team:
There will be some items on the menu that are more profitable than others; these should be prioritized. Pairings should also be identified, such as the best kind of wine to pair with the beef, or what sides go well with the chicken. Each server should have a few items up his sleeve that he can suggest at the appropriate time.
It is worth remembering that many people WANT to be upsold, they just need convincing. This is especially true for desserts, but it is also true for room upgrades and Club Lounge access. Often, the patron doesn’t want to indulge, but won’t take much persuading. So learn to frame that chocolate cake is an inviting and enticing way (think: melted chocolate gateau with blueberry glaze).
The best opportunity for upselling is when a patron asks for an opinion. Outside of this, you need to be subtler, perhaps weave in a suggestion here and there but be careful not to pressure the customer.
The key to upselling is to leave the guest believing that you have provided excellent service and suggestions, rather than a sales pitch. Do not be aggressive, but do not be too timid either. Elicit confidence and knowledge of the menu and the ingredients – customers will happily spend more on a good suggestion.
A busy regular who knows what he or she wants may not be the best upselling target. A customer who seems uncertain, and spends a long time reading through the menu, may be ripe for ‘suggestions’ from the server.
Take 15 minutes before the start of every day to practice scenarios with your staff. Ensure they know the menu inside out, and they know the most profitable items that are priorities for upselling.