Getting Your Restaurant Staff To Sell

Sometimes it can feel like pulling teeth, trying to get your restaurant staff to upsell. But here’s the good news, getting your restaurant staff to sell should be fun! Not only does it put more money in your pocket and theirs, your guests appreciate the increased level of service. Follow this advice and you’ll be getting your staff to upsell in no time at all. You just have to show them the way!

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Upselling or “soft sales” is a technique used in retail and restaurant businesses to enhance the guest experience by tailoring it to the specific needs of the individual customer. This customization increases your guest’s feeling of receiving personalized service, increases check size for the parties in your restaurant and increases the size of tips received by staff.

To encourage your staff to upsell on a consistent basis, there are 3 main steps.

Getting Restaurant Staff To Want To Sell

Hopefully, your staff already embrace their duty to provide superior guest experiences. Once they understand that upselling is the key to increased guest satisfaction and bigger tips, your staff will want to sell.

If your staff are convinced that upselling might annoy their guests, explain to them that guests can’t get everything they want if they don’t know that they want it! Letting guests make choices about service empowers them and makes them feel attended to. Upselling should be a natural part of serving guests and done in a way that shows care for the guest’s needs.

When you remind your staff that guests typically tip 15% of the check for standard service and more for outstanding service, getting restaurant staff to sell becomes a lot easier! By upselling every guest and increasing the size of the check, your staff will increase their take-home pay with every table they serve.

If your staff feel that upselling is outside their comfort zone, they likely haven’t learned the proper techniques to upsell casually and naturally. If you want your staff to upsell for you, it is up to you to pave the way and lead from the front.

Teaching Your Staff How To Sell

There are many sales training programs targeted toward getting restaurant staff to sell more. When you do the math, the monetary value of increasing the sales of each staff member by even %10 (more is possible), it is worth your consideration to enlist the help of a professional sales trainer to coach and motivate your team.

However, you can get your restaurant staff to sell right now by teaching them to use simplest and most natural upselling technique, called the Offer-Recommend Pattern.

The Offer-Recommend Pattern

  • This pattern should be used for every course in the meal. The moment the guest is seated, make your first offer.
  • Name a few types of specific drinks. “Coffee, beer, a cocktail?” (keep it 3-4 choices)
  • If the customer isn’t interested, let it go with a smile. Remember, you’re there to help the customer have the best experience. This is soft sales, after all.
  • When the customer keys in on a specific drink, such as tea, make sure you know wha t is available, to make your recommendation.
    • Give a personal recommendation and tell the guest what is most popular. -“We have an English Breakfast tea I really love, and the jasmine oolong is very popular.”
    • While doing this, you should be pointing out the teas on the menu, so the customer can make their own choice if none of the offers appeal to them.

Continue this pattern though the whole interaction offering apps, salads, entrees and desserts in the same way. This gives you the ability to push profitable specials, test new menu items and add items to the check.

You may recognize this pattern from dining at a chain restaurant. The fact is that chain restaurants often do so well compared to independent restaurants because of their commitment to training staff in the art of upselling.

Create A Sales Culture (So Your Restaurant Staff Keeps Selling)

When it comes to increasing revenue through upselling, consistency is key. You’re not going to see 20% (or more) increases in sales if it’s not done with every customer, every time.

To do this, you need to make sure your employees are up selling when you’re not around. To do this, you must create a culture of service and sales excellence among your team. Remind your restaurant staff that if they are not upselling, they are shorting themselves and their guests. Not making personalized recommendations to guests means missing out on something they would have enjoyed, and staff misses out on an important opportunity to increase their tip.

To help get the ball rolling and get staff excited about sales, create an incentive program that rewards top sales performers with special perks such as free meals, gift cards, first pick on shifts, better parking etc. With some creative thinking, you’ll find that there are a lot of little things that don’t cost much money but can create an incentive to get staff excited about upselling.

To create a strong culture of sales and service excellence, it’s important that top performers be expected to help bottom performers improve. This can be done by rewarding a section or shift for meeting sales goals and pairing top sales performers with underperforming servers. Consider offering a reward for the biggest increase in sales over a 2 month period, to show under-performing staff that anyone can achieve improved sales.

The tips in this short guide can be used today to help increase your restaurant sales by encouraging your staff to upsell. Remember that sales are directly tied to service and upselling is a natural extension of the superior customer service your staff already provide. By following these steps you’ll be well on your way to getting restaurant staff to sell more!


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