The concept of upselling is more complex than you might first think, especially if you’re still caught in the “You want fries with that?” paradigm. Our guests come to us to be coddled, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get a little bit more green out of them, especially if we are sensitive to feedback. So first a little bit of guest psychology and specific strategies for upping register rings for a few important drink categories.
Your customer walks in with a general idea of how much money he or she plans on spending at your establishment. Some may be pinching pennies, while others are there to spend part of their annual bonus but the trick is to recognize situation they are in, and to gently push their expenditure a bit higher…to push the envelope, not wrend it asunder.
A Categorical Approach
Wine is, perhaps, the most troublesome beverage to upsell because of its relatively high buy-in price, however there is a surefire technique to increase their spending without making them uncomfortable. You can zero in on what will be best with their meal. Recommend three wines in high to low price ranges and see which your guests are most interested in, then center the negotiations around that price point or a little bit higher.
A great way to sell more sparkling wine by the glass is by commenting that, “You’re thinking way too hard about what to drink. Why don’t you just have a couple of glasses of sparkling wine to start and after you order, we’ll work on a bottle of wine to go with your meal,” often results in sales.” The guest will want to hug you for suggesting such a relaxing way to begin their meal and you are still going to sell them a bottle of wine, now that they trust you!
As for raising the bar on spirits sales, the classic, “Would you prefer a certain brand of gin for your Martini?” is still a solid approach. You can do more, though. At an Italian restaurant, you should have a Grappa and Amaro list, American Regional restaurants deserve a Bourbon and whiskey list and Southwestern and Tex-Mex places should have a Tequila list. There might not be a huge volume of sales from these lists at first, but they will garner attention and even if they don’t generate sales directly, will bring attention to your beverage program.
Beer is often hard to upsell but there is a way to up the ante. Offer premium products similar to the more mainstream products. So, if you have a lot of Budweiser or Miller drinkers, offer Stella Artois and Pilsner Urquell.
While the concept of upselling is rife
with psychological subtlety, there are simple ways to approach it. Remember, our guests are with us knowing that they will be spending some of their hard-earned wages. If we do it right, they will spend a little bit more, and also be a bit happier because we showed them how to get the best value, even if it cost a few more dollars.
1. You can upsell your guest, but you must not push too hard.
2. Focus on your guests’ needs and budget.
3. Provide value to those who dine in your restaurant.
4. Offer a glass of sparkling wine to start the meal while guests persue the menu.
5. Put together a list of specialty spirits.