Top Tips for Successful Upselling in Restaurants

Training your front-of-the-house staff on upselling is a valuable approach to increasing your check averages. Upselling is a subtle way to encourage your customers to order more than they’d planned. If done right, your customers won’t even realize that they’ve been persuaded to spend more money at your restaurant.

Since some servers may be resistant to “sell” to their guests, ask them to look at it differently – remind them that upselling provides them with bigger tips. It also demonstrates to customers that your staff is both friendly and knowledgeable about the menu, which improves their dining experience and leads to repeat visits and loyal customers. When you remember that it’s all about the guest, upselling will become rooted in your restaurant’s culture.

Try some of the ideas below to get your staff properly trained and motivated so they feel inspired to upsell every customer who walks in the door.

Ensure your staff tries all menu items. It’s critical that your staff is familiar with all parts of the menu and has tasted everything – including the daily specials. Your customers will believe your staff more if they genuinely like what they are suggesting.

Be specific. Simple questions like, “Would you like an appetizer?” don’t encourage your guests as much as if the server mentions specific favorite appetizers or calls out best sellers and specials. “Can I get you started with some of our signature cheesy garlic knots?” will get your guests more excited.

Determine which items to upsell. While your servers should always be focused on selling, it’s not just about adding on appetizers and desserts, but also selling higher-profit menu items. 52% of consumers intentionally order more pizza than they need so they have leftovers1, opening the opportunity to sell additional or larger pizzas.1 Educate your customers about the great reheatability qualities of your pizza with Grande’s reheatability sticker.

Learn to read your guests. Understanding each customer will allow servers to offer appropriate menu suggestions. Are the diners a group of friends out for a night of fun or two co-workers discussing business? Is it a family reunion or a date night?

Use body language. A simple “yes” head nod from the server while offering suggestions sends a cue encouraging the customer to also say yes.

Be sincere. Don’t come across as too pushy. Upselling can be perceived more positively as an effort to improve the guest’s dining experience when the server is sincere in his or her approach.

Reward success. Positive feedback and incentives can go a long way to encourage your staff to continue to upsell.

Make sure your staff is trained properly with these basic upselling tips and techniques, and you will be on your way to providing your restaurant with additional profits while also enhancing the customer experience.


1Datassential. Pizza Power Report. June 2018.

Date: May 11, 2020