André Pellerin has over 25 years of expertise in the food service industry. Being a former Marketing and Sales Associate, and a previous restaurant Owner/Operator, André has knowledge from both the Food Establishment and Supplier sides of the business.
Upselling is an important part of any bar or restaurant’s marketing and sales strategy and an obvious way to boost revenue. However, there’s a delicate balance between offering helpful suggestions to your customers and becoming an annoyance.
Every bar and restaurant strives to ensure its 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.
So how should your bar or restaurant strike the right balance between too much upselling and not upselling enough?
Your service staff should take the time to personally know their customers, especially loyal 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.
When upselling, customers will only be excited about their server’s suggestions if they are. To help service staff be more convincing upsellers, 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 page.
More and more bars and restaurants are now offering their guests technology tools to enhance their dining experience. For example, Stéphane’s, an upscale restaurant in Boca Raton recently launched iPad menus with a wine pairing app, featuring a virtual Sommelier who educates them tableside about its extensive wine list.
A common mistake servers make is that they close out the guest check too early. Doing this not only hinders their ability to upsell but even may 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.
Every member of your staff must know your menu inside and out to be effective upsellers. This includes making sure they have an opportunity to try different food/drink items as well as briefing them prior to their service about any changes or specials that have been added to the menu. Knowledgeable staff and stellar server interaction is always a must.
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.