Read on for 26 phrases servers should use when trying to upsell. Want more secrets? Download our free ebook: The Golden Book of Upselling!
A is for Ask.
Let’s start with one of the most important upselling tips: Make the ask. Too many servers fear upselling. Their top concern? Seeming too pushy. However, when upselling is done right it enhances the guest experience and builds loyalty – all while increasing sales.
B is for Because
“Want to make it a double because it’s Monday?”
A study showed that when the word “because” is used in upselling, 93% say yes – even with an offbeat reason…like a case of the Mondays. 94% will say yes with a good reason. Without “because”? Just 60% say yes. So, try these upselling tips, because they work!
C is for Command
“I can add fries for $4?”
Hide a command in a question. This is one of the top upselling tips. Plus, it’s hard to say no when a server makes a personal request by saying “I.”
D is for Describe
“Would you like a side of fresh, steamed broccoli topped with melted, smoked cheddar?”
Want to increase sales of specific menu items by 27%? A Cornell University study recommends rich, vivid descriptions. This is one of the best upselling tips for your servers – and your restaurant menu design.
E is for Entertainment
“Would you like a gaming tablet?”
Upselling tips aren’t always about direct selling. Guest entertainment can boost spending and satisfaction. Give customers access to free trivia and arcade games on tabletop tablets, shown to increase check averages by 21%.
F is for FOMO
“We’ve got just 4 specials left. I can put your order in now.”
FOMO stands for fear of missing out. As far as upselling tips go, it’s a no brainer. The server becomes the guest’s hero, ensuring they don’t miss out on a hot seller. At the same time, the server is upselling from a regular menu item to the night’s special.
Your nightly specials should be priced for a high profit margin. Many guests assume specials are a great value – often ordering them without asking the price.
G is for Go-To List
“My 3 entrée suggestions for you are…”
Upselling tips are made easy with a go-to list of the top 3 highest profit margin items for every menu section. Managers should train waitstaff to memorize the 3 items. That way, servers are ready with the most profitable answer when a guest asks “what do you recommend?”
H is for Highest Price
“Can I suggest our new craft whiskey in your Manhattan?”
Many of these upselling tips involve suggesting higher priced items. Yet, many servers avoid recommending a top shelf swap or the best steak on the menu. Why? They don’t want to seem “salesy.” The opposite is true.
Guests feel flattered when a server assumes they can afford a trendy new wine or gourmet item.
Not presenting guests with your best options is a form of down selling. To see more ways your servers may be down selling (and how to fix it), download the free Golden Book of Upselling Tips and Secrets.
I is for Influence
“Would you like wings and rings to start? It’s our most popular appetizer.”
Popular. Best-selling. In-demand. Servers should highlight top sellers. This is one of the best restaurant upselling tips for indecisive guests.
J is for Just Right
“I can review our 7 entrées with you.”
Many restaurant upselling tips revolve around your menu. Want a menu that upsells? Have just the right amount of options. The study suggests 6 items per menu category for quick service, and 7-10 per category for fine dining. With too many options, guests get “choice overload.” For example, with 13 dessert options, a guest may get bogged down by indecision – and skip dessert.
K is for Knowledge
“These tacos pair perfectly with pale ale.”
Knowledge is power when it comes to upselling tips. When servers take entrée orders, they should offer pairing recommendations – like these 13 best beers to pair with tacos.
L is for Largest
“Would you like the 12 ounce steak?”
When a guest says “I’ll have the steak” – confirm their order with the larger size. If the guest had the 8 oz. steak in mind, they’ll just correct you. Assuming the larger size is one of the easiest upselling tips.
M is for Mastery
“I know how to upsell.”
Ok, your server won’t say this to a guest. But of all upselling tips, this is a must. Don’t leave upselling up to chance. Train your team! When hiring new staff, include upselling tips in the onboarding process.
N is for Nine
“Interested in one of our house martinis for $9?”
People love the number nine. In a study of clothing by MIT and University of Chicago researchers, customers bought more of an item when it was priced at $39 – even compared to $34. So if your martinis are $8…put these upselling tips to work. Make ‘em $9.
O is for Options
“You can see all the options for each menu item.”
No, not on a printed menu…on a digital menu. Restaurant touchscreen tablets put most of these A to Z upselling tips into play – automatically.
For example, guests could click on “Caesar salad” and see: extra dressing, chicken, salmon, or even a larger dinner portion. It’s a customer-focused way to upsell: let guests build their perfect meal. The best restaurant tablets even prompt guests to view extras and add-ons for each item.
Plus, touchscreen tablets stay at the table. Guests can place orders and re-orders on a whim without waiting for their server. Instant gratification for them. Easy upsell for you. It’s a win-win…like all of the best upselling tips.
P is for Patience
“Have any other questions?”
Embrace the question-happy guest. Take time to guide patrons to their perfect pick. Upselling tips work best when servers show genuine care for guests. Earn trust early on and the guest will be more open to your upselling suggestions.
Q is for Quiet
“I can turn down the music if you’d like.”
Better yet, don’t even ask. During slower dayparts, keep music low and slow. Studies show relaxing, slow tempo tunes increase drink and dessert sales by up to 40%. Who knew the right restaurant background music could be one of your best upselling tips?
R is for Recommend
“I just tried the chef’s new vodka sauce – it’s great, you’ll love it.”
Ensure your waitstaff tries every menu item so they can make personal recommendations. As far as upselling tips go, this is essential. When a server knows the menu, she can use more vivid descriptions – which can increase sales by 27%.
S is for Sample
“Would you like a sample pour of that craft beer?”
Free samples can boost sales of an item by up to 2000%. Yes, 2000%. This is one of the upselling tips that seems too good to be true. Studies back up the benefits of free samples.
T is for Takeout
“Since you’re full, I can pack up desserts to go!”
When guests are too stuffed for dessert, make them feel FOMO with upselling tips for takeout. “I don’t want you to miss out on our chef’s cheesecake…you can take it home.”
U is for Use Their Name
“Matt, would you like another beer?”
Say the guest’s name whenever possible. Studies show hearing one’s name activates the reward center of the brain, making it easier to ask for the upsell!
V is for Variations
“Any of our pizzas can be made gluten-free.”
Let guests know if your restaurant offers variations like gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan. They may add on extra items. In addition to being top upselling tips, catering to a guest’s dietary lifestyle is also a great way to build loyalty.
W is for WIIFM
“Want to try our black n’ blue burger? It’s a filling half-pound burger.”
Does your waitstaff speak in features…or benefits? The best upselling tips revolve around this golden rule: tell guests how the menu item benefits them. The golden rule is also known as “What’s In It For Me” or the WIIFM rule. In this example, the server highlights the burger’s size – and how it provides a filling meal. Learn more about the power of WIIFM to increase sales and see the 7 benefits guests care about most.
X is for X-Ray Vision
“I see you’re having trouble deciding, I suggest the…”
All upselling tips and tactics require servers to read the customer – especially this one. Try to spot the indecisive guest, then rescue him with a personal recommendation using the “G is for Go To List” upselling tips.
Y is for Yes!
“Yes! You can that burger without a bun.”
Be flexible when it comes to guest requests, no matter how silly they seem. From no-carb diets to paleo preferences, guests want the power to customize a dish. Your chefs may cringe, but servers should enthusiastically say Yes!
Z is for Zeroes
“Check out our wine list…we have 9 choices for $9”
See what we did there? Two upselling tips in one. You already know about the number nine, did you know that keeping zeros off your menu can upsell? Guests perceive items with double zeroes – $9.00 – as more expensive, and items without zeroes as a better value.
For more upselling tips, including the latest studies and research, download the free Golden Book of Upselling Secrets.