August 28, 2023
Devn Ratz

What is Upselling? What Upselling Means for Restaurants

The process of how to upsell requires your staff to gently influence guest decision-making. The positive benefits are food waste reduction, increased sales, and better guest retention. Upselling techniques are many, so here we consider some of the most potent and practical.

In some ways, upselling is a careful art developed by the skill of timing and emotional intelligence about customers. Almost anyone can learn how to upsell, but effective selling is another story. One of the better ways to increase restaurant sales is through upgrades and premium ingredients choices sold through delicate offers. This compares slightly to what cross-selling is, where the aim is to add more elevated dining occasion. You might check out a comparison of upselling vs. cross-selling before your continue.

Many strategies assist effective upselling in restaurants. Some of the most important are knowledge, training, and descriptiveness. There are about as many ways to offer the dessert menu as there are desserts to cook. So, upselling is partially a way of getting to know your menu, its margins, and making the right decisions from for on- or off-premise formats of experience. 

See how valuable upselling can be, and compare it to the upsell vs. cross-sell for revenue and customer outcomes. Read our guide to what upselling means for restaurants here. You’ll get ideas for effective implementation, employee development, and customer intelligence.

Key Takeway: Upselling intentionally persuades customers to buy pricier or additional items to increase check sizes and restaurant revenue.
Learn to see which menu upselling techniques work best with the restaurant intelligence guidebook.

Defining the Upsell: What is Upselling?

By the book, upselling is a technique to encourage customers to purchase upgrades and premium product that increase the average of the sale. When a customer is enticed to buy more, it’s from simple, subtle choices made by staff, advertising, and menu design.

When the menu recommends certain pairings for high-margin items or ingredients, the profitability of your restaurant increases. And, when customers receive recommendations for products of higher quality or that support their experience, customer satisfaction can measurably increase. Learn to make a menu with these strategies.

A few of the requirements of upselling are a solid understanding of when to time and support a recommendation. You should also base your upselling marketing strategy on what will legitimately help the customer enjoy a better meal with you. 

In the end, by taking both of these basics in hand—and applying them to the techniques below—you can maximize revenue and restaurant satisfaction mutually.

Upselling Techniques in Restaurants

Over the years, the specific foundations of effective upselling have come closer to our view: we now see that upselling is a combination of influences, starting with a look at the menu and proceeding through the dining experience to the staff’s final call to action. 

Being able to persuade a customer to get the more expensive dish serves your restaurant and tip-centric employees. Here are some critical elements of the upselling strategy that is likely to bring your restaurants the most in revenue and satisfaction enhancement.

Menu Engineering

Menu engineering remains a critical component of upselling since it is often first. Customers may start “upselling” themselves from an online menu on the way to the restaurant. It may also simply prepare them to make the most of their visit. 

To increase checks, state your highest-value items with the lowest relative expense to attract attention to these profitable dishes or drinks. Then, limit the number of items on your menu to cut down on the issue of choice paralysis. 

Your menu can also use “decoy dishes” which are priced to enhance the appeal of other, more high-value items since customers calculate their own “savings” this way. And, finally, you should position dishes to make them bold, outstanding, and irresistible. 

Trained Service

The true heart of the upselling process sits with staff optimization. If a staff member knows the menu and the strategies behind it, they are more likely to work alongside your menu in promoting the most profitable items to customers. 

The art of upselling actually requires this gentle, social, human touch to be most effective. So, ensure that your servers never verge on pushy or salesy. Instead, they should approach the selling situation as a support to the customer, offering to tailor the experience to their taste.

Some of the skills that are most useful in building a strong upselling team include listening to guest questions, offering details about items, and subtly creating urgency about limited time specials. Remind them how it increases their own take-home tips too!

Bundled Offers

So many companies bundle, and it’s no wonder why. When you combine menu items online or on-site with other attractive offers, like family packages, customers order more. Simply offering a bundle is perceived as a way of caring about the customer’s end-all value when they leave your restaurant.

With more value, personalization, and enjoyment, you may even find yourself increasing the numbers for your loyalty programs

Sincere Support

Being human, sincere, and seemingly caring is important to the sales process as well as upselling. People are only convinced to cooperate with recommendations when they trust the source of the information, in any way. 

That means that your upselling strategies need to be backed up. Use excellent customer service, enhance your atmosphere, and create all the conditions for your sweet-as-pie servers to boost those numbers. As your servers listen closely, inform carefully, and guide customers through a unique ambiance and experience, checks will grow themselves. 

Effective upselling is built on this ethos, an environment where customers know they’re taken care of. It’s a good example of the meaning of hospitality at its center; and, it also appears to be a highly profitable strategy for restaurants chains and others.

Upselling Impact on Restaurant Revenue

Upselling in restaurants statistically leads to higher revenues. This is in part because most upselling techniques focus on moving those high-margin items before dishes that may add food waste, expense, or difficulty for staff. 

As you’ll notice, menus and staff often push quick, on-hand products first such as easy add-on ingredients and cocktails, following the interest in influencing profits without punishing productivity. 

When menus are engineered for the upsell, there is a positive connection with a boost in revenue across all restaurants. And, when staff is trained, offers are bundled, and your supportive selling stays sincere—the enhanced experiences also add to satisfaction levels. 

Schedule a demo with Revolution Ordering to learn where upselling might count most for your business based on data analytics

Frequently Asked Questions About Upselling

Upselling can baffle servers as well as stakeholders. Now that you know the overall effect of effective upselling techniques and case studies, let’s get those questions answered. 

Look at some of the most common questions restaurant staff can have about using, implementing, and understanding the concern “What is Upselling?”

What is an example of upselling?

Upselling happens when something is tacked onto the original order. You can see upselling in digital menu ordering when shrimp can be added to salad at an additional cost. 

Many online checkout processes use upselling techniques to add favorite or saved items to current carts. Others will incentivize increased spending with additional discounts or promotions.

What is the meaning of upselling?

When a salesperson or sales tool offers an upgrade, premium, or add-on, they are upselling. You can upsell any number of useful add-ons for customers or diners. But, the goals should be to increase the total of the check and offer options that suit the customer experience

How do you practice upselling?

Upselling starts when you identify a related, complementary, or helpful product to suggest. Then, you offer the item with an incentive, such as a better experience, a rewarding discount, or a sense of urgency if the item is a limited offer.

For most upselling techniques to work, you’ll need to establish yourself as someone to trust within the restaurant. Otherwise, you will need to build in credibility by showing personalization and customization for online ordering platforms.