Foodservice and Hospitality, October 2002. David Lipton.
Successful upselling can significantly boost the bottom line, while actually improving customer service.
Would you find it hard to believe that within a one-year period it's possible to increase you revenue per customer by $3, and realize a 300-per-cent return on investment? All operators are concerned about maximizing and increasing profits, something that will often be accomplished by increasing the average check, usually through a price increase or by switching to lower-quality ingredients. Those are good ideas - if you're hoping to lose customers. After all, loyal customers easily become discouraged when a visit to their favourite restaurant suddenly requires a bank loan. Instead of paying a premium for the same meal they once thoroughly enjoyed, they'll take their business to your competitor. The more effective way to realize a substantial gain in profits, and actually improve customer service, without a price increase or skimping on quality, is to upsell.
Upselling, also known as suggestive selling, can be implemented quickly with minimal investment and will produce immediate results. Aimed at getting more money at the point of sale, upselling is simply offering a suggestion to an already receptive buyer to enhance the value of his or her purchase. And most customers will appreciate a server's thoughtfulness and honesty when they offer them suggestions to make their experience more enjoyable.
Wait staff should make suggestions to guests without being over bearing. Their suggestions should be helpful, without meaning to pressure. For instance, a customer who seems unsure of what to order may appreciate the server saying: "That's not bad, but it's not what we do best. Can I suggest one of my favourites from the menu?" Other examples could include "is there an appetizer/dessert you had in mind, or would you like a suggestion?" or "The apple pie is great here. Would you like some with ice cream, or without?" These are key phrases in leading a customer to order something they may not have thought to on their own, but would still thoroughly enjoy. Honesty is important; servers should be sure not to lead the guest astray.