In the restaurant business, prompt, courteous service from the wait staff is crucial, but this alone won’t guarantee your restaurant’s success. When interacting with guests, managers, servers, and even cashiers should all be trained in the subtle art of upselling, or suggestive selling. Upselling involves the artful suggestion of more expensive but higher quality food and beverage items from the menu in order to increase sales, and the dollar amount of the guest check, which by the way adds to the seller’s tip, so it is a win win for everyone. Let’s discuss some strategy on how to increase restaurant sales.
How to Increase Restaurant Sales
For example — when a customer orders a martini, instead of immediately leaving the table to place the order, the server should suggest a top-shelf gin such as Beefeater. Of course, the optimal time for servers to upsell is when the customer asks for their opinion. In all other cases the server should limit their pitch to one and possibly two upsell suggestions. Subtlety is imperative with upselling because if the customer feels pressured, you risk losing that customer’s business altogether.
Know The Menu
By thoroughly knowing the menu, the wines, desserts, and top-shelf liquor used in cocktails, servers can make informed suggestions and customers will view upselling as quality service and not a sales pitch. By being well acquainted with menu items, dessert offerings, and wine and food pairings, servers can make specific suggestions. Instead of offering wine, the seller should offer a specific Chardonnay to go with fish, and not just offer dessert, but dark chocolate cheesecake for dessert.
Additionally, when customers make special requests, allow servers to make executive decisions at a customer’s table by informing servers in advance what accommodations they can make when a customer requests a special dish. For example, can a customer substitute a side dish normally served with another entree? Or if there are no vegan menu items, know ahead of time what kind of vegan dish the chef will prepare. In other words, severs should know what to suggest to customers making special requests without having to consult the kitchen.
Train Servers Often and Well
In-service training periods should be given on a regular basis so servers can become familiar with all menu items, their ingredients and appropriate wine and food pairings. But servers should also be well acquainted with top-shelf liquor brands and should know what dishes are not available at any given time. There’s a very fine line between offering helpful suggestions and badgering customers by putting pressure them to make additional purchases or buy more expensive items.
Know Your Customers
Each restaurant has different customers. If you don’t already have a customer persona, create one. You can create one from visual cues, or you can do a deep dive into Google analytics or even social media analytics to find out who actually comes in. Train your team to ask certain questions that will allow them to better understand their customers’ personal preferences and then offer particular menu suggestions.
Make the Upsell Exciting
When upselling, customers will only be excited about their server’s suggestions if the servers are. To help your wait staff to become more convincing upsellers, set aside time during your daily meetings to set up mock scenarios. They may feel silly practicing their upselling techniques, but once they’re on the floor, this will make things flow significantly better.
You can also upsell before the customer ever gets to your restaurant. Think about it, all those social media posts can be used to showcase those upsell items making your server’s tasks even easier.
Implement useful technology tools
More and more bars and restaurants are now offering their guests technology tools to enhance their dining experience. For example, there are iPad menus with wine pairing apps featuring a virtual Sommelier who educates them tableside about its extensive wine list. You can also set up Facebook Wi-Fi to increase check-ins and fans to your page. Make use of these tools and you are sure to see your restaurant profits increase.
Listen to customer feedback
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 entrée?” will let the server know whether or not their guests are receptive to additional menu suggestions.
Go beyond getting feedback at the restaurant. Set up a reputation management dashboard (like Socialdraft) so you can always know when customers mention you on line. Then, look for patterns and take action as needed to correct the bad and amplify the good.
Take Your Time on Check Out
A mistake servers often make is that they close out the guest check way too early. Doing this hinders their ability to upsell and can put off some guests who see it as a sign that you want to turn a cover. Servers should never assume that their guests aren’t interested in dessert or another round of drinks until they have asked.
With these basic techniques, you can ensure that upselling provides your restaurant anith a additional revenue flow, without compromising the customer experience.