How to Increase Restaurant Profits

 In Bar & Restaurant Operations, Customer Service

Prompt and excellent service is one of the quintessential requirements for any profitable restaurant. With so much riding on how your servers interact with guests, as the restaurant owner or manager, it’s important that you’re able to teach your service team how to effectively sell by simply being knowledgeable and helpful. The key to success is suggestive selling.

Here are five subtle upsell techniques to impart upon your service staff during every customer experience.

1)  Train servers to ask the right questions: when greeting a table, the first questions that your server asks can make or break a prime sales opportunity. For instance, asking the question: “Can I start you with a couple of drinks?” is a lot different than asking “would you like to try one of our signature cocktails or a bottle of wine to get started?” Or say a guest orders a martini. The server should always be suggesting top shelf alcohol choices versus just taking the drink order and walking away.

2)  Make sure that servers know your menu inside and out: there’s nothing less appealing to restaurant customers than a server who cannot explain available dishes on the menu or who does not know the answer to the common question, “What is your soup of the day?” Being able to knowledgeably guide their guests through the menu will ensure that servers are presenting their customers with every opportunity to add to their check, while being perceived as helpful and consultative.

3)  Give servers guidelines ahead of time for dealing with special requests: when customers make special requests, which are very likely, it’s important that the server feels empowered to make executive decisions on the fly to accommodate them. For example, a customer requests a vegan dish, although there are no vegan menu items, per se. Your server should already know some vegan alternatives to suggest, without having to first clear it with the kitchen staff.

4)  Reinforce to servers that upselling helps them to make more money: obviously the bigger the check, the bigger the tip. And if your servers are making more money, they will be more likely to make upselling a priority. Or take a step further by introducing some healthy competition that rewards servers with prizes or a bonus for generating the most sales at the end of the month.

5)  Encourage a positive attitude: being happy and friendly goes a long way in the restaurant business, and making sure that your servers have a positive attitude starts from the top! Lead by example and always stay positive and calm, even during chaotic rush times.

For additional reading on this topic, you may also find these other articles helpful:, “The Basics of Up-Selling Menu Items” and Food Service Warehouse, “Top 10 Tips for Successful Restaurant Upselling.”

Do you have a selling technique to share or a question about training your servers to sell? Drop us a line in the comment box below!

Showing 3 comments
  • Jay Larkin

    I teach Hospitality Management and we have both a student run restaurant and banquet facility. Every week I reinforce with the students to ask open ended questions rather than closed ended. In other words, you know what the answers are when you ask a Yes/No question.
    Treat the interaction more as a gentle reminder to the guests for what they should be doing. For example after taking a beverage order leave them with this "Thank you for the drink order. I will give you a few minutes to look over the menu while I get your drinks and will be right back to get your appetizer and entree orders."

    • Jessie Eckert

      Great advice, Jay!

  • Steven Johnson

    Excellent blog thanks for sharing!

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