The sales in a restaurant can often be unpredictable. While one day, you would be overflowing with diners and food orders, some days, there would be a significant dip. Factors like changing trends, higher competition, and time of the year play a role in the highs and lows of sales.
Certain sales techniques, when used right, can give your sales a major boost. Suggested selling is one of the most effective techniques that has been used in many industries and has proved to be successful.
With a simple, “Would you like to enjoy fries with that?” you can increase the value of that transaction. Many restaurants already use this strategy to increase the items and get more out of food orders. However, it should be used by trained professionals because it can backfire when used the wrong way. But when done right, it can not only add value to the order but can also enhance customer experience.
So, what exactly is suggestive selling, and how can you utilize it in your restaurant to increase your revenue. Let’s find out.
Understanding Suggestive Selling
Suggestive selling is a technique in which the employee suggests additional services or products to the customer that might meet their requirement.
In terms of a restaurant, suggestive selling encourages your guest to place an order for an item that would go well with the dish they have ordered. This helps increase the value of the transaction.
It can be recommending a guest try out a new special soup instead of the tomato soup they had ordered or recommending a pasta dish to a customer who usually orders a pizza. The dishes you recommend would, of course, be priced slightly higher than the one the customer was ordering but would be something they will enjoy.
The key to truly benefit from a suggestive selling technique is to suggest ideas that your customers will actually appreciate and increase their dining experience. It should be done tactfully. Don’t recommend a beef dish to a person who has ordered a vegan dish.
Effective Suggestive Selling Strategies for Restaurants
Now that you understand the concept of suggestive selling, let’s have a look at the different techniques you can use in your restaurant:
1. Your Staff Should Know Their Stuff
One of the most effective restaurant management strategies is ensuring your staff knows the menu inside out. The same applies to effectively using suggestive selling. Often, diners ask servers to recommend a dish, and if your staff doesn’t know anything about the dishes, they won’t be able to make any suggestions.
Similarly, if they aren’t aware of the items on the menu, you can’t expect them to use suggestive selling techniques. Take some time out to ensure your staff is well knowledgeable of the dishes offered and which dish pairs well with which items.
It helps if your staff has sampled the food and beverages offered at your restaurant. Host a tasting event for your team to get them familiar with the foods they serve is a great way to ensure they make the most out of suggestive selling.
2. Benefiting from Technology
One of the best ways of improving the sales of your restaurant is to take full advantage of modern technology. Using online order platforms as both your indoor and online order systems can make the process more efficient. It can also make it easier for your servers to suggest sides, drinks, and addons to the meal.
However, you need to make sure that all your systems are efficient and not causing issues. Otherwise, you will end up with unsatisfied and hangry (angry and hungry) customers who won’t want to hear recommendations or exciting specials.
Therefore, make sure the technology you use is the one that works best for you and helps the servers in saving their time. The goal should be to keep the customer happy while benefiting from suggestive selling.
3. Grouping Items that Go Well Together
Review your menu and identify the areas that need improvement. Are there any dishes that can go well with other items? Consider placing them together. Grouping items that work well with one another can certainly boost your sales by increasing the value of every order.
Why not consider adding a special section where you recommend combos and suggesting drinks that go well with a dish? That is an excellent way to use suggestive selling techniques. Your servers can use this to offer some more recommendations.
4. Using Personalized Statements to Connect with Customers
A great way of enhancing customer satisfaction is to use personalized statements when interacting with customers. Saying things like, “I see you are thinking about ordering a club sandwich. That’s an excellent choice, and it is my favorite too. But do you know what I enjoyed even more? The special panini sandwich that is new on the menu. Would you like to try it?” can help in boosting the sales.
You can even add in, “Great! I will add the panini sandwich to your order. Oh! This mojito drink goes splendidly with the sandwich.” This will add more value to what could have been an order for a simple club sandwich.
5. Utilizing Delivery Apps
Delivery and takeouts have drastically increased due to the pandemic. While lockdowns are being lifted, many people are still more comfortable dining in the comforts and safety of their homes. You can use delivery apps to highlight your best (priciest) items.
These apps can even help you in creating combos, in which you can offer addons to add more value in the order. You can even revamp your online menu to include suggestive selling tactics and highlight the items you want to sell more at the top. You can even make suggestions about which appetizers or sidelines go well with the popular dishes.
6. Create a Restaurant Loyalty Program
It is highly cost-effective to retain your existing customers as compared to acquiring new ones. Moreover, existing customers are even more valuable to the bottom line of the restaurant. Therefore, introducing a loyalty program would encourage customers to dine at your restaurant more and spend more.
Award-based programs are highly popular among the customers as they earn more rewards the more they dine at your restaurant. This is why loyalty programs can play an integral role in suggestive selling. It allows your servers to recommend pricier items that could earn the customers higher rewards.
This feature can also be included in the online ordering platform so that the customers can also earn rewards on ordering online.
7. Training All your Staff
A well-trained staff can completely change the game of your restaurant. Knowing the right way to talk, dress, make suggestions, and share the specials with the customers can do wonders. Make sure to have a quick meeting at the start of every day to inform all the servers about the day’s special and go over the high-profit items.
You should host wine education seminars too to educate the servers to make the best wine recommendations to go well with the food. Including a wine bottle in the meals can undoubtedly increase the value of the order.
8. Ask Questions
The suggestive selling strategy’s benefits are twofold.
Firstly, asking questions shows that your servers are interested in creating a valuable experience for your customers. It reinforces the commitment of your restaurant towards customer experience. Engaging in a conversation also shows the customers that the staff isn’t merely doing their job and rushing off to another table; instead, they are adding value to their experience.
Secondly, asking questions helps in gather data about your customers right from the source. Inquiring about the beverage and food preferences allows your servers to make personalized recommendations and use suggestive selling effectively.
9. Building Rapport
Teach your employees the importance of creating a good rapport with your customers. Developing a relationship early on can help them in convincing the customers to try out their recommendations. A friendly smile, warm greetings, and respectful demeanor can go a long way. Asking questions, like “how is your day going?” “What are you in the mood to eat today?” can open dialogue for recommendations.
Building a rapport can even help you increase the chances of the customers visiting your restaurant once again. Avoid making things complicated or forcing an additional sale, though. Let things be more natural.
Suggestive selling is an effective way to increase the value of each order while also impressing the customers. It is important to understand that the concept works when it is used the right way. Make sure that your staff knows how to use suggestive selling techniques in a way that benefits both the customer and your restaurant.
Understanding the concept and the menu is the key to using this technique to your advantage. Moreover, utilizing technologies like online order platforms can further enhance your restaurant management skills. MenuCRM is an ideal solution for that.
It can be used as your online ordering system, restaurant website, customer communication system, CRM, and even a loyalty platform. It provides full features that can simplify processes for independent restaurant owners. You can include a special recommendation section in the menu to effectively use suggestive selling techniques.