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Up-selling Ideas for your Restaurant

Be honest. Do you up-sell enough and realise the maximum revenue from each customer and do you do it well?
Upselling is an important part of any bar or restaurant’s sales strategy and when it's done well, can seriously increase your revenue from the customers you already have. However, there’s a delicate balance between offering helpful suggestions to your customers and becoming an annoyance.


We must try to ensure that guests have the most enjoyable and comfortable dining experience possible, and therefore, the last thing service staff should do is overly push them to order extra things they may not want. But, on the other hand, many times customers are very receptive to or even appreciative of a server, bartender, etc. who goes the extra mile to suggest additional menu items they may not have thought to order on their own.

What about recommending and fabulous aperitif before they even eat? It's not complecated. A simple, "Hi. Before you select you food today how would you like to try an aperitf?" "It will really open your palatte and enhance your food flavours." "We have a really nice gintini if I can tempt you."

Done well you can easily be an extra £15 up before a food item has even been ordered. It's not exclusive to fine dine restaurants so introduce it and see where it takes you.

Know Your Product

Firstly and this is a must. Make sure that your waiting staff know your menu back to front. How can they be convincing if they bumble through the menu, trying to recommend dishes that they obviously know nothing about themselves.

You need to nuture a close relationship with the chefs and the waiting staff so they can converse back to your cuustomers, the creations on the menu and any specials available.

So how should your bar or restaurant strike the right balance between too much upselling and not upselling enough?

Know the customer:

Your service staff should take the time to know their customers, especially regular ones. To do so, train them to ask certain questions that will allow them to better understand their customers’ personal preferences and then offer particular menu suggestions, accordingly.

Also ask questions such as, "Have you dined with us before?! If the answer is “no”, provide some background on your restaurant and suggest dishes that are crowd favorites. "What brings you in today, is it a celebration?" Is there a certain dish that has caught you eye?" Knowing this information will help you recognise some of the top items you provide and how to enhance their experience at your restaurant.

At the same token, regular customers should be looked after, given some regular free drinks, wine, or menu items dependant on how many time they come in and how they spend (see regular’s blog)

Make the upsell enticing:

When upselling, customers will only be excited about their server’s suggestions if they are. To help service staff be more convincing up sellers, during your regular staff meetings try slotting out time for mock scenarios, whereby service staff can test and fine-tune their upselling techniques with each other. Another great way to do this is by regularly featuring different menu items with visual photos on your bar or restaurant’s Facebook and other social media pages.

Typically customers will let their server know, even if subtly, how they are feeling throughout the dining experience. By asking basic questions, such as: “Do you know about our specials this evening?” or “Can I suggest a wonderful wine choice for your starter?” will let the server know whether or not their guests are receptive to additional menu suggestions.

Don’t also assume they want the bill until they ask.

Completing the bills not only hinders their ability to upsell but may even be deemed offensive to some guests. Servers should never assume that their guests aren’t interested in dessert or another round of drinks until they have asked.

With these basic tips and techniques, you can ensure that upselling provides your bar or restaurant with a nice additional revenue flow, without compromising the customer experience.

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