So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

10 quick tips on upselling

1. Never upsell just to build the check. Always do it to enhance the dining experience.

2. Mention specifics. Don’t ask, “Would you like an appetizer”? Instead, ask, “Would you like the crispy hot Mozzarella sticks with the homemade marinara dipping sauce”?

3. If your restaurant allows it, ask if you can put together an appetizer platter and serve it family style. If your restaurant doesn’t do it, suggest that they do. You’ll sell a lot more appetizers that way.

4. If the guest has been drinking alcohol and they order coffee, always ask, “Would you like Bailey’s or Frangelico with that”?  You’d be surprised how often you can almost see the guest think, “I wish I had thought of that”. Also, when soliciting coffee, try this – “Would you like coffee, espresso, cappuccino, port or an after-dinner drink”?

5. If two or more people are drinking the same wine by the glass or wine by the bottle, and one or more of them is getting a little low on wine by the middle of the entree, offer to split a glass of wine for them “in order to finish your meal”. You’ll probably sell that last glass 25 – 50% of the time whereas, if you ask them if they want a glass of wine, chances are they’ll say no.

6.This works for some people but I don’t do it myself because I’m not comfortable doing it (it’s not that I’m not comfortable with the concept, I’m not not comfortable saying it myself) – “Let me get you some of our great nachos for your appetizer”. If you’re comfortable with this, I’d say, go for it, because it’s all about the confidence that you instill in the guest that they are letting you tell them what to order. It’s all about pulling it off. I know servers who can do this flawlessly – perhaps you’re one of them.

6. When a guest orders a mixed drink, always suggest a couple of call brands. “I’d like a Cosmo, please”. “Would you like Absolut, Stoli or do you have a favorite”?

7. Along those lines, a good approach is to limit the choice.  Instead of adding “do you have a favorite” simply say, “Absolut or Stoli”? Make them choose. This is a common sales techique that works pretty well. People sometimes take the path of least resistance.

8. If someone orders a brand name that offers upscale versions, know them and ask the guest if they’d like that. For instance, Tanqueray has their regular brand and several other more expensive brands (Tanqueray 10 and TanquerayRangpur come to mind). Jack Daniels has their Single Barrel and Gentleman Jack brands. So, my standard reply when someone orders Jack and Coke is, “Jack, Gentleman Jack or Single Barrel”? when someone orders Tanqueray and Tonic, I always ask them Tanq or Tanq 10″? If you employ this tactic, you’d better know what the differences are though and be able to articulate them.

9. Don’t let a selling opportunity pass you by. If it’s an anniversary, ask if they’d like champagne. If they order pie, ask them if they’d like it ala mode. If they don’t order a salad and go straight to the entree, ask them if they’d like to split a salad or soup “just to give you something to nibble on while we cook your entree”.

10. Going full circle from tip number 1, be an advocate to your guest. They don’t always know your restaurant’s strong points. Play to those strengths. And don’t be afraid to recommend something more expensive. Just don’t do it because it’s more expensive. Always look out for the guest while you’re upselling.

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