Hotel Professionals

The Benefits of Selling and Upselling.


Successful servers know intuitively how to approach a table to “accessorize” the order. A couple ordering dinner or lunch need different approaches, at least in North America. Generally, people shy away from excessive alcohol consumption during lunch. Indeed, some companies have no alcohol policies for their employees while entertaining and/or training. Regular guests, however, gladly would accept an offer, and order a glass of wine. In fact, most educated people are very much aware of the fact that wine, particularly red wine, consumed in moderation and regularly is beneficial.

The quantity most researchers cite is approximately 375 ml per day, which translates to two standard glasses of wine.

In order to sell anything, you must have it in inventory, price it competitively, and offer it to the potential consumer.

Approaching a table to present menus requires a strategy, which includes assessing the reason why people decided to come to your restaurant. Some simply come to “fuel” their bodies, others enjoy the fine food and/or service, and/or choice of alcoholic beverages, yet others to celebrate an occasion, or because there is no other restaurant in the neighbourhood.

Regardless of circumstances, a server must remember that people patronizing a restaurant can afford to spend and it is up to the server to ensure guests spend to their potential.

Experienced servers judge their guests by their behaviour, the way they are dressed, the jewellery they wear, their speech, and ultimately the food they order,

Before presenting the menu, always ask the following question: “ Would you like to have a glass of wine, aperitif, cocktail or mineral water?” Notice the wording oft the question. It gives only positive choices! The “yes” or “no” type question is completely out of place in a restaurant. Consider that when people are sitting down they have already decided to purchase whatever you are offering. This is not the case in a regular store.

Selling an aperitif or any other drink provides many service advantages. First, guests can sip on their drinks while perusing the menu, it relaxes them, and the waiting time appears much shorter when there is something to do.

A minute appears to be a long time for a person with nothing to do.

Once the order is taken, as a server it is your responsibility to suggest an appropriate beverage. If the order calls for a beer, then suggest a specific beer that is a good match.

Similarly, a glass of wine may be suggested if appropriate.

In all cases, the suggestion must be sincere, enthusiastic, and well chosen. This requires an in-depth knowledge of anything you suggest.

It should be clear that guests are more often than not barely interested in the production techniques of any beverage, but very receptive to the description. In the case of beer, you can say; “This lager is light, hoppy, refreshing and best with the food you have ordered”. Similarly for wine you can say: “This fruity wine from California’s Napa Valley will enhance your meal. It is dry, full bodied, and deeply flavoured to complement your steak”.

For dinner, first sell a round of aperitifs, and then take the food order. Once you have placed the food order, approach the table with your wine suggestions. Use the food as your guide. If you determine that people ordered extensively and expensively, you can start by suggesting a bottle of wine with the appetizers. Then a bottle of red with the main course, if the main course orders are seafood specialties you will have to resort suggesting a full bodied flavourful white wine like a Chardonnay from Burgundy or may be even a Chablis. In all cases stay away from Chardonnays that have been oak aged for too long. Oak and food, especially seafood, are incompatible.

If two people are dining, you can offer half a bottle for the appetizer and a full one for the main course.

If one in the party orders chicken and the other beef, you can offer a rosé to suit both or a light fruity red wine i.e Beaujolais or even a simple Pinot Noir.

In order for you to sell more, you must know what you are selling and speak with authority and confidence. Guests believe you when you speak confidently.

Remember guests entering a restaurant do so with the intention of spending and by making them comfortable you guarantee their return. Guests who trust your judgment will never question anything you suggest providing you do it right and consider their likes and dislikes.

Another important technique to increasing sales without much effort is up selling. If someone orders a martini, immediately ask whether he/she wishes to have it made with a premium or super-premium brand. If the guest asks, what the difference is then all you have to say is the super-premium has a better taste and a smoother texture; for example a Tanqueray No 10 is a more distinct gin than regular gin. It costs more and therefore with the same effort the bill is higher. Remember that the effort to produce and serve the premium brand is the same as the regular version.

All of the above increase the final amount on the bill, which is good for the restaurant, but it is also good for the server because of the tip involved, particularly when the guest(s) leave the restaurant satisfied.

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