Bank on Your Servers’ Upselling Capabilities

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Upselling is a tactical artform. It requires empathy and authenticity, not to mention a vast understanding of your menu.

Your servers need to have these skills, both for their benefit and yours. Not everyone that comes to work for your restaurant will know how to upsell, so it’s important that you’re enabling your staff through training, motivation and technology. Here are some ways to teach and encourage the art of upselling in your restaurant.

Train Your Staff

Your front-of-house employees have the most contact with your customers, and almost every interaction they have with a guest is an opportunity to influence their purchase. It’s important for them to be well-equipped to answer customer questions, recommend items on your menu and upsell when appropriate.

There’s a fine line between strategically advising and harassing a customer. Explain to your staff how upselling impacts their wallet, and coach them on how to do it gracefully. Advise them on being consultative rather than insistent in order to create a relationship of trust with your guests.

Providing ongoing training for your employees, not just your new hires, will ensure there are no gaps in menu knowledge. When you get a new menu item or begin offering seasonal dishes, have your chef whip up a few for pre-shift so your entire staff can see its presentation and try it out for themselves. Tell your staff how the food was prepared and give them a list of ingredients. Encourage them to pick a favorite item from your menu that they can describe elaborately to your guests, along with sides and drinks that pair nicely with the meal.

Additionally, run daily or weekly competitions among your servers or bartenders to see who can sell the most of a specialty item, or keep a leaderboard for those who sell the most add-ons. Reward the winners with free meals, no-side work cards or even cash bonuses to heat up the competition.

Server with resturant guests

Use Technology that Backs Upselling

Using a platform that advances your upselling is imperative. Your restaurant POS system can complement thorough staff training by reminding employees to ask guests those crucial upselling questions.

For example, if your guest orders a steak as their entrée, your POS system can prompt your server to ask if they’d like to upgrade their sides or if they want to add grilled onions or a skewer of grilled shrimp for a small additional charge. This feature also gives your employees some menu expertise support, especially when they’re newer to the team.

Incentivize your Guests

Showing your guests that their business matters to you is one of the best ways to ensure repeat customers. Here are some incentives you can offer your customers to show them you care.

Gift Cards

Gift cards are the holy grail when it comes to retaining customers. They facilitate repeat business by collecting money upfront, and studies show they encourage your guests to buy more. Fiserv posted a consumer insight report in 2018 that showed consumers averaged $59 of additional spend over the value of a gift card they received, and over 80% of consumers with a fine dining, fast casual restaurant or drug store gift card spent more than the value of the card.

You also have the ability to offer bonus gift cards for bigger purchases. Try advertising a promotion around a bonus $20 gift card for every $100 in gift cards purchased. This tactic rewards your customers while also encouraging them to spend more at your restaurant – it’s a win-win!

Seasonal Promotion Ideas

Gift cards sell fast around the holidays, but you also have the ability to upsell in other ways. Offering seasonal or holiday-specific items, sending out digital coupons for Father’s Day for a free entrée for dad, or offering free appetizers when you dress up for Halloween are all great ways to get more guests in the door.

It’s likely that most people participating in these promotions will come with other friends or family members, so you’re guaranteed to make a profit, especially if you come up with a promotion that fills your dining room.

Loyalty Programs

Loyalty programs give your guests that “Cheers” sense of belonging. After all, who doesn’t want to go where everybody knows your name? This may be figurative, but it works! Show your guests that you value their loyalty by giving them a free meal on their 10th visit, points that add up to free swag related to your restaurant or any other tally system that rewards customers for dining with you. You even can use your point of sale system to track customer loyalty and allow your guests to see their progress online, so no need for your guests to keep track of physical punch cards.

Modify your Menu

Create menu items that promote modification and encourage your staff to call out your delicious additions to guests. If your guest is craving tacos, they should be able to view all potential modifications and add-ons right there on your menu, as well as receive a reminder of their options from their server.

While it may take a little extra effort from your kitchen to make these personalized dishes, it will go a long way in the eyes (and stomachs) of your customers. It can also make your menu more streamlined and profitable by simplifying dishes and charging for additions. To automatically include bacon, a fried egg, and fresh jalapeno slices on a burger would cause that item to be pretty pricey but asking your guests instead what they want to add to their burger gives them a sense of ownership.

Your guests want to feel like they are heard, valued and their business matters. By training staff to politely suggest items rather than insisting on a dish, equipping them with menu knowledge backed by menu trial and giving your guests reason to return to your restaurant, you’ll have no problem filling your dining room and increasing your bottom line.

About Toast: Toast powers successful restaurants of all sizes with a technology platform that combines restaurant POS, front-of-house, back-of-house and guest-facing technology with a diverse marketplace of third-party applications. By pairing technology with an unrivaled commitment to customer success, Toast helps restaurants streamline operations, increase revenue and deliver amazing guest experiences. Toast was named to the 2019 Forbes Fintech 50, 2019 SXSW Interactive Innovation Finals, 2018 Forbes Cloud 100 and recognized as the third fastest-growing technology company in North America on the 2017 Deloitte Fast 500. Learn more about Toast by visiting POS and Restaurant Management Platform.

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