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4 Ways to Empower Your Waitstaff to Upsell

February 17 2016 by Dan Pecha

Waitstaff_Upselling-1.jpgWhen your waitstaff is excited and having a great time serving pies, patrons can’t help but feed on the energy. The result? They’ll want to spend more time in your restaurant, and will spend more money when tempted with upsells. Patrons have new flavor adventures. Servers get better tips on higher ticket totals. You make more money. Everyone wins!

You can empower your waitstaff and servers to upsell by using a few key strategies.

Train and Gain Your Waitstaff

Servers confident in the products they sell and the recommendations they make to patrons can be upsell superstars. Set aside time for waitstaff to:

  • Taste test all menu items
  • Memorize ingredients and preparations for all dishes
  • Determine ideal wine and entrée pairings
  • Learn which menu items you’ve chosen to promote
  • Understand menu options for customers with dietary restrictions

When servers are personally familiar with what they’re selling, it makes it easier for them to have authentic conversations with patrons. Upselling becomes a matter of good service rather than a sales pitch, and patrons are more likely to take waitstaff suggestions. If your servers are wondering how to upsell, it might help them to focus on simply providing great service. With quality customer service, the upsell opportunities will come naturally.

Servers in tune with their tables can also take advantage of “reading” their patrons to determine which upsells will work best. For example, if a server senses their guests are in a hurry, the deep-dish pie special may not be the best suggestion. The to-go bundle, though, may be a perfect fit.

The More the Merrier

Offer multiple items across different price points, so your servers have options to suggest to patrons. For example, offer appetizers across a range of high to low prices. When patrons consider their order, servers can suggest a few of the higher priced (which are typically the most profitable) choices. Different portion sizes can be a great upsell, too. A personal pie is great, but a server might recommend that it’s more fun to share the next size up or a better value to have lunch leftovers.

Picture It

People eat with their eyes. It’s not only a proven maxim, but also a wonderful way to upsell. Menus, table tents or other patron-facing items that feature professional food photographs allow the waitstaff to point out golden brown appetizers, gooey desserts or other tempting add-on items instead of just talking about them. Visual enticement is a powerful — and profitable — selling tool.

A Friendly Competition

There are a number of ways to motivate your waitstaff to upsell. Awarding prizes for the most upsells on a shift or having a contest around upselling a particular item are popular ways to incentivize waitstaff — but they do more than that. Friendly competition reinforces server buy-in to the overall sales goal, and also fosters team morale. Servers who enjoy themselves and what they do are critical to how your patrons experience your pizzeria — and often factor into their decision to return. 

Upsells are a win for patrons, servers and your pizzeria. To get more tips for training staff to deliver on customer needs and advocate for your restaurant, download our Waitstaff Training Guide. Get your free copy now by clicking the button below.

Pizzeria Waitstaff Training Guide

Categories: General Operations, Customer Service

Dan Pecha

Written by Dan Pecha

Pizzeria Consultant
Dan is a hugely important slice of Alive & Kickin’ (see what we did there?). He started in the pizza business when he was just 14 and eventually opened his own chain of restaurants, supplying his own dough balls for each of them. He expanded to supplying dough products to other operations, then founded the Dough Shop®. Alive & Kickin’ was thrilled to acquire the Dough Shop® in 2015.