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How to increase the effectiveness of up-selling in restaurant


Up-selling is one of the sales techniques that has been in use for many years in various industries, including restaurant marketing. Activities that aim to increase the final bill of restaurant customers consist of testing their needs and attempting to suggest a more expensive item on the menu. See our 12 tips for how to increase the effectiveness of up-selling in your restaurant.

Train your waiters

The nature of up-selling is also the reason why waiters have the obligation to handle it correctly. Waiters communicate directly with customers; they suggest meals, take orders, clarify any doubts, serve food, and finally, collect the payment. What do you think the effects of an up-selling campaign would be if the waiter is not familiar with all the items on the menu?

Explain to your employees what up-selling is and show them which items it applies to. Give them tips on how to suggest dishes and beverages to customers so that they are more willing to order them. Observe them while they are working and control whether they fulfil the assigned duty. This will help you increase effectiveness of their activities in restaurant marketing.

Precise offer is the key to success in restaurant marketing

In order for up-selling to work, waiters must know which items it covers. But this is not all. The right moment to make the offer is also important. If up-selling applies to snacks, instruct your waiters to offer them before appetisers. If you want to improve sales of your chef’s special cake, offer it to your guests ordering coffee. Contact with your waiters in this case is very important.

Waiter serving food in restaurant.

Offer advice, don’t sell

More than likely, you’ve been convinced by telemarketers before to buy products you didn’t really need. Do you remember how irritated you were? Your restaurant customers often feel the same way when waiters have no skills for suggesting products covered by up-selling.

Every waiter should remember that their task is to help customers in choosing the ideal meal. The conversation should start with finding out the needs and assessing whether the customers is interested in a product at all. If they indicated that they are not interested, it is a clear sign that the waiter should not try to convince them.

Link items in the menu

One method for effecting positive results from up-selling is to link several items in the menu. Try to describe an expensive dry wine from your menu as something that goes well with red meat. have your waiters suggest a glass of such a wine with orders.

Take out is also important!

Customers are amazed by your cuisine but won’t manage to eat dessert? Suggest they take-out through the online food ordering system. That way, they can enjoy something sweet to finish off their meal at home. As a show of appreciation for a good meal, you can expect positive feedback about your offer left in the UpMenu system.

The feedback and review system is an important element for restaurant marketing. The UpMenu application enables customers to order food remotely and you to recommend particular meals in the menu through pop-ups that appear once they access the menu.

Pasta with green pesto sos.

A restaurant is not a marketing agency

Customers visit your restaurant to spend quality time with a delicious meal and relaxing beverage. You cannot allow them to feel like just the goal of a restaurant marketing strategy. Trying strongly to convince customers to choose expensive items on the menu is a sure way to lose them for good.

If you notice that a customer is irritated by up-selling, stop. Don’t overdo things by offering too many special deals and reduced prices. Don’t make the price become the only criterion for choosing your restaurant. 

Undecided customers are your friends

Undecided customers are something all restaurant owners dream about. Why? Because they create an opportunity for you to sell any item from the menu. A waiter who is familiar with up-selling tips will easily be able to convince such customers to buy the more expensive dishes and beverages after learning what needs they have.

Nevertheless, the suggestions have to be justified; the customers must know why a given type of wine will be ideal with the most expensive meal on the menu.

Suggest bigger servings

Don’t hesitate to offer bigger servings of your best dishes. Certainly, foodies will visit your restaurant who won’t be able to resist bigger portions, especially since people who are hungry usually visit a restaurant.

If there is a group of frequent visitors who love a certain dish, they will be a good target to sell double servings.

Nevertheless, keep in mind that you should not try to cheat customers. Don’t say the servings are so small that two portions will be ideal along with a dessert. Any attempt at cheating will have a negative impact on your restaurant marketing.

Waiters serving food to customer in restaurant.

Cross-selling, a component of up-selling in restaurant marketing

Cross-selling should be coupled with up-selling. What does cross-selling mean? It’s another technique for increasing sales whose idea is similar to up-selling, the difference being that while up-selling consists of encouraging customers to choose a particular item on the menu in isolation from other products, cross-selling involves suggesting another product to go with a given dish, e.g. dry wine for red meat or cheesecake for coffee. Used properly, it will be very effective in terms of restaurant marketing.

Cross-selling is not only a component of restaurant marketing. Have you ever been suggested a shoe cleaner when paying for shoes? Exactly. Cross-selling involves combining products that go well together, e.g. footwear and shoe cleaner, coffee and dessert, caviar and champagne!

Cheaper replacements will increase your sales!

Up-selling in restaurant marketing strategies does not only consist of suggesting the most expensive items from the menu. Customers are not naïve, they will quickly notice that your main aim is not their satisfaction but rather your profit.

Hence, if they refuse don’t be pushy. Instead, suggest a cheaper option. This is not always possible, but there is certainly a group of good products that can become the subject of a downsizing strategy. This applies specifically to alcoholic beverages, particularly wines. It would be a good idea if your menu includes a wide range of wines at different prices. If your customers don’t want to spend a fortune on a bottle of wine, you can still offer them a cheaper replacement.

Focus on more profitable items

Keep in mind that more profitable does not always mean more expensive! In this case, the difference between the cost of preparing a meal and the profit margin is important. Firstly, suggest those items on the menu where the difference between cost and price is the highest. In other words, try to sell what earns you the most.

How to do this? Train your waiters. Provide them with the right knowledge on which products consume less of your budget in preparation as compared to their sale price.

Waiter serving burger in restaurant.

Be patient

Remember that your customers are like your guests and only they will decide whether your business will grow. Be a good host. Respond to every question with patience and give relevant details. Use knowledge about your offers to encourage your guests to choose the most profitable items on the menu. If they sense that you are an expert who knows what they’re talking about, they will be happier to choose your offers in the future.


Sales techniques should be a mandatory element of marketing activities in every restaurant. Try different strategies and match them with the character of your business. Up-selling will help you increase profit and manage the restaurant’s budget.

Keep in mind, however, that without a well-thought-out strategy and proper training of your staff, your activities will probably not generate the desired results.

Learn more

Online food ordering system – the ultimate 2020 guide

Restaurant mobile app complete guide for 2020

Menu engineering on a plate – design a successful menu

Monika Kamińska

Monika Kamińska

Marketing and communication enthusiast with 20+ years of experience, a psychologist by education.

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