Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to maximise their restaurant’s revenue! Increasing your profit margins however, isn’t just about serving great food or creating an impeccable atmosphere; it’s also about mastering your upselling techniques. 

When executed thoughtfully, upselling or suggestive selling, becomes a win-win scenario. By making informed and well-timed suggestions for dishes, sides or drinks that pair well, upselling techniques not only increase the average size of your customer’s bill, but also enhance the overall dining experience. 

Best part? Restaurant upselling can be easy and with these 6 tips you and your team are guaranteed to master it in no time to secure high-profits for your restaurant business.

1. Customer rapport – the key to upselling

Customer rapport for better upselling

Upselling isn’t really about selling, it’s about enhancing customer experience. That’s why before repeating the same rehearsed line, make it a rule to get to know your customer first. Engage in active listening and observation to identify your guest’s needs, preferences, likes and dislikes to provide catered and sincere recommendations. Whether it’s suggesting a wine pairing, an entrée to complement the main course or a tempting dessert to follow, personalised and honest suggestions will guarantee an unforgettable dining experience.

2. What’s on the menu?

For the restaurant industry, the foundation of successful upselling lies in knowing your menu from A to Z. This goes beyond just recalling a list of menu items and their prices, but understanding their pairings, preparation methods, ingredients, flavour profiles, potential allergens, diet limitations and so on. Ask customers for their preferences and make informed suggestions to encourage your guests to purchase a higher price-point alternative or additional items that would go well with their order.

3. Offer specials and promotions

Upsell via specials menu

Nobody likes to miss out, that’s why specials and promotions are a great way to upsell! Train your wait staff to leverage the urgency and excitement over limited-time offers and exclusive deals as a way to increase your restaurant’s revenue and their tip size. Encourage suggestive selling by bringing up specials into conversations with guests, providing a specials menu, and incorporating visuals to encourage them to try a special treat on their night out.

4. When in doubt – role play

Upselling can be uncomfortable, for both the waiter and the guest, especially when it comes across as pushy. Be cautious of rushing your staff to upsell prior to offering them a chance to build up their skills. Consider training your staff through tasting events to get to know the dishes on the menu better, offer go-to suggestions on pairings and don’t shy away from role-playing exercises to refine their communication skills. Upselling is a process and practice makes perfect!

5. Make upselling fun

The success of your upselling strategy lies in the hands of your restaurant servers, or rather their active effort to upsell. Don’t skip on fun incentives and rewards to motivate your team to take their upselling techniques up a notch. From celebrating top performers with small cash bonuses, gift cards, or even just an extra shift off – upselling can turn into a friendly competition among your servers, instead of a dreaded chore.

6. Thank your loyal customers

Upselling strategies for better turnover

A little reward goes a long way for customers too! Even though it sounds slightly counter-intuitive, loyalty cards, discounts and restaurant gift vouchers can actually encourage guests to spend more during their visit and increase your restaurant’s profits. Combine offerings with higher-margin items or add-ons like a complimentary dessert with every two-course meal to boost your sales and express appreciation to your customers – all at the same time.

Feeling ready to upsell?

Feel free to share these tips with your colleagues and staff to dive into maximising your revenue and building stronger relationships with your restaurant visitors. But remember: the goal is not to find the one-fits-all suggestion to boost your sales, but to enrich your guests with a more flavourful, personalised… and slightly pricier gastronomical experience. Take your time to get to know the items on the menu, visitors, staff’s capabilities, incentives and don’t be afraid to get creative. At the end of the day, we’ve all heard “Would you like a side of fries with that?” one too many times.

Tableo for restaurant upselling finesse

Still not sure where to get started? Make Tableo your upselling assistant!

  • Step two: Assign your staff to monitor repeat customers and track down their dietary preferences, allergies, special requests to customise and personalise their experience from the second they walk in through the door.

  • Step three: Begin upselling before their arrival time – send out an email featuring the specials and current offers to build up excitement for their upcoming visit.

  • Step four: Make use of gift vouchers to express your gratitude for customer loyalty and encourage extra spending.

  • Step five: Set up a restaurant survey to monitor your reviews to ensure that your upselling efforts don’t turn into a cold sales pitch, but bring additional value to the customers. Extra points for noting down most popular dishes and adding it to your suggestions list!

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