September 6, 2023
Devn Ratz

What is Cross-Selling? 5 Cross-Selling Examples for Service Staff

Like upselling tactics, cross-selling is not merely about giving another serving of fries, or appetizers, or cocktails. In fact, that comes after all the interesting stuff is said-and-done. If you're not sure about the differences, review our guide to cross-selling and upselling.

Instead‒as a server, manager, or owner‒think of what cross-selling is through the lens of the customer experience. When the public gets those extra fries, a second app, or their third signature cocktail, it deepens their relationship with the brand offering these opportunities to enjoy.

And, cross-selling has it's dark side too. When your restaurant labor does well with its techniques, they naturally elevate customer value, loyalty programs, and restaurant revenue. At its worst, however, cross-selling can overwhelm the customer. It can also dilute focus from satisfying the dining moment.

Learn to carefully wield this double-edged chef's knife by following five cross-selling examples for most restaurants.

Key Takeaway: Cross-selling‒when done well‒enhances the customer experience and heightens your server's (or software's) ability to elevate restaurant profits.
Get an understanding of the best cross-selling strategies for you through better restaurant intelligence and a free guide to using your customer data.

What Is Cross-Selling? 5 Trusted Techniques

You have probably heard the term cross-selling, especially when people make comparisons between upselling vs. cross-selling. What upselling is may seem clear enough. But, are you aware that cross-selling can expand customer satisfaction toward new items and offers, boosting business growth and loyalty too?

Well, it's true. Ultimately, cross-selling means different things to different people. The point of cross-selling depends on whether you're the general public, a working server, a restaurant manager, or the business owner. Let's see how they each grapple with the concept.

Your Customers

For customers, cross-selling strategies are those suggestions made by the menu format and helpful restaurant labor to enhance the pleasure of digging into that dish. For each order, it's more than spending a bit more money (upselling) than you might have planned.

Instead, when you pair customer decisions with the expertise of servers, you see that cross-selling can really elevate a dining experience. For customers, cross-selling is a benefit they receive: insight into the best pairings in the restaurant.

Service Staff

As a server, cross-selling allows you to maximize the table's actual enjoyment experience. By filling in gaps in the "total package" with suggested extras, you can stimulate your tip fund as well as impress restaurant management with your savvy sales acumen.

Cross-selling can also be more than mere "pairing." Instead, it demands that you read the table's mood and motivation while customizing your suggestions to meet an invisible expectation of satisfaction. It's an intuitive and strategic skill.

Restaurant Management

Let's get down to it: cross-selling strategically maximizes revenue. Cross-selling, primarily, works by recommending the right items based on customer behavior and overall trends in purchasing.

Still, that's not the end of the story. Instead, for restaurant managers, optimizing their cross-selling strategies means diving into food data, customer data, and even big data powered by restaurant AI tools.  

Business Stakeholders

For enterprise restaurants and business owners on the whole‒cross-selling is a growth enhancer. It enriches the customer experience, brings more value from the brand, and capitalizes on the traffic that already exists to boost sales.

Still, it remains a delicate balance between building a brand trained to cross-sell and creating one that customers associate with sales tactics. So, as you try the tactics below, ensure you're meeting the customer where they are rather than where you'd like them to be.

1. Offer Tonics and Toasts

The key to winning quick sales is often found in restaurant menu design When you suggest high-priced items from bolded and featured areas on the menu template, they're more likely to affirm the sale.

For instance, if a customer asks for your recommendation, description, or opinion of a dish, don't take the moment for granted. At the same time, you don't want to appear sales-focused, especially in the fine dining restaurants where this tactic is basically bread and butter.

As an added tip, keep your ears and eyes tuned to the signs of the special occasion. These parties, gatherings, and celebrations can be the higher-than-average ticket to boosted tips and sales.

2. Make the Order "Deluxe"

When you see a customer order a meal without a drink or sides, make them aware of the possibility that they can save a few dollars by spending a few more on an upgraded order.

By simply suggesting the higher-priced item that includes the entree, you're that much closer to winning a higher ticket average. The families and friends that frequent fast casual chains where this technique is essential will appreciate the deal.

Beyond that, your suggestion adds a level of attentiveness and attention that goes a long way when it comes time to appreciate the restaurant with business, loyalty, and a tip.

3. Suggest the Bonus Experience

If you see a customer (or a table) sticking to safety by ordering only main entrees, entice them with your best side dish or appetizer. Tell them how it enhances the things they've already ordered.

This strategy is best for fast casual and family restaurants. But, it also adds variety to the customer's dining moment wherever they are. As you fill in their ticket (with drinks, desserts, and more dishes)‒don't try to overwhelm the customer with several options.

The quickest path through confusion is, of course, "No, nevermind that." So, as you make suggestions, keep them simple. One item related to their existing main course will go a lot further than 10 suggestions. It's a lot like bringing the entire menu back for a second review.

4. Sweeten Service with Dessert

How many times have you seen a customer with a look of wistful seeking as they look at their check, the menu, and back at their check? Then, you also know this is the right time to strike with a sense of urgency.

Timing is critical, and you should watch for clues that the customer wants something a little more from their service experience. The truth is this: the longer you can keep the table seated and sipping or snacking, the higher your average ticket will be.

Prolong the stay with a well-placed push for dessert. This is a tactic that serves every restaurant‒large, small, local, or chain.

5. Leverage Stored Customer Data

Your restaurant should enable automations and integration into its online food ordering to supercharge cross-selling capabilities‒even at a distance.

When POS, CRM, and inventory management systems work together, you get a complete profile of who your customer really is. Use this business intelligence to suggest sauces, dips, and add-ons at checkout, and according to their individual past order data. Then, increase your chances for future sales further by angling for a loyalty program subscription to ensure future orders.

In fact, promote your every offer according to the customer segments who will appreciate them most. To do this, use online ordering integrations. When data intelligence equips your staff and software, the effects of cross-selling can be profound, profitable, and possibly inexhaustible.

Cross-selling is one strategy enhanced by better restaurant data intelligence. Get to know your customer by scheduling a demo of our business intelligence tools.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cross-Selling

Cross-selling can drive sales, but you must use it wisely, sparingly, and with restraint. To effectively enhance the customer experience, find out what cross-selling really is and how it contrasts with upselling, the tactic of drive-thru restaurant fame.

What is a good example of cross-selling?

One of the best examples of cross-selling centers around tempting customers with the taste of wickedly good desserts. When customers ask for their check, and servers respond first with a question about decadent cheesecake, cross-selling is the sales technique in progress.

In this example, you see that customer cues (like asking for a check, the drink menu, or for more information about a dish) feature as importantly as how the server approaches the sales situation.

What does cross-selling mean?

Cross-selling is simply the tactic of recommending more items to compliment the customer's already chosen dishes. Adding to the initial purchase, for instance, servers can suggest a side, sauce, or signature cocktail that goes nicely as a pairing.  

Ultimately, cross-selling is a technique to enhance the dining experience while stimulating positive gains for the restaurant‒both fiscal and as a brand.

What makes cross-selling different from upselling?  

Whether you learn to cross-sell or how to upsell, you will aim yourself at increasing restaurant sales. The difference is this:

  • Upselling gets customers to order more expensive versions of the same item.
  • Cross-selling encourages orders to collect more items‒like sides, drinks, desserts, etc.

Either way, both these server sales methods enhance the experience of dining out while also encouraging higher tickets, tips, and total return.

Find out how cross-selling and other techniques or technology can help you grow as a restaurant.