How To Upsell Your Guests for a Better Dining Experience

With the holidays under full swing, now is the time to make the most of increased traffic and spend at your restaurant. Upselling guests is a great tactic and they’re more open to it this time of year, when they want to splurge on something special. With that, there are a few things to keep in mind. As someone who has worked in the restaurant industry, I’ve learned–or more so observed–a thing or two about how the front of house functions. While some things work, other things do not and the same is true when it comes to trying to upsell your patrons. Let’s face it, no one wants a less-than-enthusiastic server to drone on with a run through of the entire menu of specials. The key is to be strategic and even let the food do the talking so you don’t have to!

Put yourself in their shoes 

Even though you are providing a service to your patrons as an employee of the restaurant, you’ve still probably eaten there on occasion as a customer. You’re going to want to use this to your advantage when it comes to up-selling your guests.

Do you normally enjoy a specific beverage with your favorite menu item? Try suggesting that if someone orders. Chances are if you’ve up-sold yourself with items on the menu you’ll be able to upsell to any guest. You’re also more likely to successfully upsell if you sound like you’ve eaten there. One thing you’ll want to keep in mind: when upselling, avoid over-selling for fear of annoying the customer. That’s no way to sell.

Know your menu, front and back

You’d expect a local to be able to provide directions around an unfamiliar city and guests expect the same knowledge about the menu, even if they don’t ask. Most restaurants will do a thorough training of all menu items, including the beverage list, to ensure that the people that do the upselling know what they are talking about.

Show off the goods, literally

When it comes to trying to up-sell, it’s always easier when your items are shown and not just talked about. One of our favorite restaurants in San Francisco, Souvla in Hayes Valley, showcases their greek frozen yogurt machine at the front counter where guests order, and these practically sell themselves for good reason. When a guest is contemplating a purchase such as a dessert, if they get the opportunity to see you getting another patron dessert they will be more likely to buy on themselves.

Samples are your trump card

When in doubt, offer up samples. If someone is on the fence about a purchase and all they need is a taste of the goods, your upsell will be a shoe-in. Even if someone hadn’t previously considered a purchase before they snag a sample, there’s a good chance your product will speak for itself and prompt a purchase.

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