Profitability on the menu: Upselling techniques in restaurants

The past year has been incredibly hard for restaurants, many trying to keep their head above water during lockdowns and despite pandemic-related restrictions. Now, some regions are beginning to recover, and businesses should prepare for the day after the crisis with solid upselling methods. That’s always been a touch challenge, with an average profit margin of no more than 6.2% across the industry.

Upselling is a term that makes some in the food and hospitality industry cringe because it feels like an attempt to make customers spend more regardless of their genuine interest and desire. But that’s not what unselling is about, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making a profit. The following techniques highlight hidden options and steer diners in a direction that would make them happier and more satisfied with their restaurant visit. Follow these golden rules for upselling in restaurants, and you’ll boost your income and customers’ enjoyment simultaneously.

Menu details and strategy

There are several ways to train your staff with upselling in mind.

First, offer deep knowledge. Teach your staff how to describe each dish and how to pair different items on the menu perfectly. Offer a profound understanding of how the food was prepared and the ingredients it contains. Invite your wait staff into the kitchen, let them see the magic, and have them try everything on the menu. Their recommendations will be more authentic and inviting.

foam topped milkshake sale

You must also build a menu strategy. Highlight specific items based on their profitability rate. This doesn’t always mean you should promote the most expensive items, as profit and price are not the same. Encourage items that contain time-sensitive ingredients and take stock considerations into account.

Excellent service will boost not only your review score but also your bottom line, so hire people who genuinely love their job. It doesn’t mean that your staff’s dream career should be waiting tables, but your customer-facing employees must enjoy human interactions and take pride in doing a great job.

Happy employees = happy customers. Make it your mission to form a healthy and happy work environment. Treat your staff well and let them know you appreciate them. By boosting staff loyalty, you’ll also gain a team committed to your restaurant’s success.

Adding a little competition doesn’t hurt either. If an item on the menu is your focal point tonight, let employees know that whoever promotes it the most wins a nice little bonus.

At the same time, don’t be too pushy. Remind your staff to pay attention to cues. They should know when it’s time to make friendly suggestions and when it is better to let the customer be.


Make it special

Extraordinary experiences are worth spending on. Offer specials, hidden menu items, seasonal offerings, and more. Boost your regular menu by being willing to accommodate customers’ personal preferences. You should also consider having a flagship dish that serves as your menu must-have. If it’s truly remarkable, people would flock to your restaurant and book a table weeks in advance. They’ll come in for this particular dish and try additional items.

Another brilliant way of personalizing a visit to your restaurant is personalizing the food and beverages served to customers. Ripples’ technology allows you to add a nice note to foam-based drinks like coffee, beer, or cocktails. A relevant message with the customer’s name should do the trick. Printing on drinks would guarantee that no one would order “just tap water, please.”

Market your restaurant online

Did you know that 90% of customers research a restaurant before visiting? You want this online research to convince them that your business is the best choice while recommending specific dishes. Your social media pages and other digital channels are great tools that should be part of any upselling techniques in restaurants. Post yummy images, reply to reviews and target the right audience.

Every customer is a potential ambassador, and we recommend creating Instagram-worthy experiences. Plate your food creatively, invest in good lighting, and use the Ripple Maker to print visuals that customers would love to share with their friends.

Track your restaurant upselling techniques’ progress

Measuring results is the only way to know which upselling methods work for you. You must talk to your staff to learn from their experience and encourage knowledge sharing within the team.

There’s always room for improvement, and tracking your performance should help you invest in what truly matters. Perhaps you need to polish your staff training? Or maybe boost your paid social media campaigns? There’s no way of telling without keeping track.

Upselling is essentially upgrading your customers’ experience. You offer them more in every way and earn extra money and loyalty as a result. Use these upselling techniques in restaurants and make the most out of your business.