3 Wild Myths About Upselling (& How to Handle Them)

Posted on November 14, 2017 by Michelle Locke

We’ve written about upselling before—and we’ve written about myths when it comes to training. It’s time that we combine the two and tell you about 3 myths about upselling that may be holding you back—and how to start addressing them in your restaurant.

When it comes to restaurant service and training, there are lots of myths out there. And when it comes to upselling, there are some myths that might be making it difficult for your employees to get the job down. Let’s talk about it.

( Before we start, here’s a refresher on the basics of upselling.)

Myth 1: Upselling is All About Sales

While it’s true that upselling is based on being able to sell (reading guests, suggesting the best item, and using the right language), it’s about more than that. Upselling shouldn’t just be a sales tactic, but rather a way to provide between service. Upselling to a guest that is just in your restaurant to get something quick won’t be effective; upselling to a guest who seems down, who might want to try something new or comforting, will be much more effective. It’s all about reading the guest effectively and being able to empathize, determine what they need and want, and offering to them. Ultimately, it’s about service… not just sales.

( Click here to learn about 5 unconventional upselling techniques.)

Myth 2: Upselling Upsets Guests

Recently when talking to a restaurant owner, he said, “I don’t like my employees to upsell because it makes guests angry.”

Now, there are a lot of reasons for him to say that: his employees might not be trained on upselling correctly and might just be using the same blanket upsells on everybody (see Myth 1!); or his employees might just not be making the effort. And it’s true, using blanket statements to upsell to a guest is a bad way to go about things and will make a guest feel unwelcome or annoyed with their service.

But when done correctly, upselling can help provide better service to guests. For example, if a guest asks for the wine list, a server might ask their wine preference and refer them to the part of the menu that most appeals to them; or, say they order a glass of wine that contradicts their preference, a server can potentially suggest something they might enjoy more. It’s all about reading guests in the specific situation, which can be a challenge, but is possible.

( Click here to read more about training for menu pairings.)

Myth 3: Upselling Doesn’t Increase Ticket Totals

Remember that restaurant owner who said he didn’t like upselling? Another thing he said was that he didn’t feel like upselling even increased the amount spent on each ticket.

Again, we hear this pretty regularly at Waitrainer+ and, agian, we wonder if this belief stems from poor or inadequate upselling training.

But it’s time to bust this myth: while a small upsell (like a different wine or a more expensive upgrade to a dish) might not increase your revenue overnight, it’s the differences that add up over time that really affect your restaurant. And we’re not just talking money: over time, good upselling (and upservice) adds to the positive reputation of your restaurant. If guests know they will have a great experience and will have servers who suggest great options that they love, then they are more likely to return, more likely to tell their friends, and more likely to spend more at your restaurant.

And remember, brand loyalty is one of the best things you can cultivate for your restaurant!

( Click here to learn about making experts out of your employees.)