5 Tips for Customer-Friendly Upselling in Restaurants | ChowNow
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5 Customer-Friendly Upselling Tips for Your Restaurant

December 2nd, 2017 Marketing Restaurant Tech

Upselling in Restaurants

Upselling can sometimes evoke negative feelings in restaurant managers – you’d much rather let your fantastic cuisine speak for itself. While that’s a noble goal, upselling has evolved into a much more ethical and “organic” practice. Gone are the days of aggressive pitches and loud signs. These tips will show you that upselling is mostly about highlighting tasty menu combinations and suggesting over selling.

1. The Power of Positioning

If you’re not much for verbal sales techniques, you’ll love this upselling tip. The arrangement of the images and text on your menu possesses lots of persuasion power if positioned correctly. Positioning items that you wish to upsell next to or below other items (or even on the same plate) can naturally persuade your customer to order complimentary items.

For example, place homemade tomato soup next to a grilled cheese sandwich or a glass of red wine next to a sizzling steak dish. There’s a reason why you never see a picture of a McDonald’s burger without a side of fries. It’s almost as effective as “would you like fries with that?”


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2. Read the Customer

Upselling should always be approached with intuition. Train your waitstaff to pay close attention to customer cues. For example, if a table of customers seem to be enjoying leisurely chatter and aren’t in a rush to leave, suggest coffee and a dessert special. Who doesn’t love a slice of pie and a cup of coffee while catching up with old friends? It’s an easy opportunity to promote your dessert menu without being pushy about it.

3. Give Free Samples

upselling in restaurants

While grocery stores seem to have this technique down pat, many restaurants aren’t as savvy about utilizing this method of upselling. While this works better for casual or fast-food dining, it can be utilized at more formal food establishments as well. If you run a juice bar, place a tray of acai bowl samples at the register. Manage a gastro-pub? Encourage barhoppers to come in for tapas by placing a member of your waitstaff outside of the entrance with tasty bites of your best-seller.

4. Utilize Online Food Ordering

upselling in restaurants

A restaurant that isn’t utilizing online ordering is missing out on lots of upsell opportunities. Online food ordering allows you to reach a whole new customer base that you may not encounter organically, and is proven to increase ticket sizes.

There are many reasons why online ordering increases sales:

  • Mobile menus feature conveniently clickable elements that can promote ordering multiple items.
  • Options for add-ons and modifications are clearly presented, and the customer can take as long as they want deciding what to order.
  • Without a waiter or cashier taking the order, the customer feels more uninhibited to order as much as they want.

You can get more tips on optimizing restaurant upselling online in this blog post.

Find the best online ordering system for your restaurant.

5. Build Rapport First

As mentioned above, upselling should not be pushy. Adopt the role of a connoisseur rather than a salesperson – in other words, know your menu inside and out! When customers ask for recommendations, provide honest and informed answers along with items that pair well with the dish, like a particular wine or side item. This will position your upsell efforts are more helpful than “salesy” while adding to your foodie credibility.

Upselling in restaurants is a necessary strategy for success, but as you can see, it doesn’t have to leave a bad taste in your customers’ mouths. Skip the tacky mascot and go with the tips above instead—your customers will love you and you’ll love the additional revenue pouring in!


Want more ChowNow tips and tricks? If you’re a ChowNow restaurant client, schedule a call with a member of our team — we’re have tons more where this came from. If you don’t already have online ordering at your restaurant, get a free ChowNow demo from one of our experts to get started today!

Hayley Thayer

Hayley Thayer is a member of the ChowNow Marketing team. In her free time, you’ll find Hayley eating salmon sashimi, ruminating on culture and politics, and obsessing over the latest men’s haircut and clothing trends.
Hayley Thayer

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