Upselling Menus the right way
Derek Tallent
By: dtallent
Read in 5 minutes

Upselling Menus The Right Way

Upselling menus, when done right, can greatly increase your profits and sales. However, there is a fine line between tactful up selling that is successful, and ridiculous upselling that will turn away customers. But, what exactly is “upselling”? Upselling is the process by which a restaurant tries to convince customers to purchase additional items, upgrades, or add-ons for an increased price. The most common example is asking customers if they want an extra-large drink instead of a large (most fast food chains tend to do this). In some cases, waiters will be trained to gently remind customers about add-ons and upgrades. We are going to discuss examples of effective upselling, while also warning you about some pitfalls to upselling you should avoid.

Pitfalls of Upselling Menus

Upselling can be a great sales technique when done right, but there are a few things you should avoid when incorporating upselling:


One of the biggest mistakes any restaurant owners can make is to try and deceive their customers. For example, many restaurants will try to recommend more expensive alcohol to customers. While this can work, you better be sure that the more expensive alcohol is also of better quality. Many restaurants will try and recommend certain brands because of their cost and not their quality. This will upset your customer and lead to a lack of trust.

Being Pushy

Another misstep when upselling is to constantly bother customers with additional options. If the customer isn’t interested the first time, they probably won’t be the fifth time either. Pestering customers will make them annoyed and unlikely to come back to the restaurant.

Special Treatment

Some restaurants tend to reduce the level of service for those who choose not to buy additional items. This can be as simple as giving certain customers their food first, and can even go as far as ignoring customers who don’t buy anything extra. Remember, upselling should be giving your customers an option to enhance their experience, not creating a payment wall for better service.

Good Forms of Upselling Menus

As we’ve discussed, up selling when done wrong can lead to major problems with your customers. However, there are good ways to approach up selling. Below are a few effective techniques:


At the end of a meal, have your waiters ask the table if anyone is thinking about dessert. An even better step would be for the waiter to give them a dessert menu. This reminds the table of the dessert options that could enhance their experience. If they say no, have them offer to take their check and move on.


Having add-ons is a great idea for any menu. Examples would include bacon on a burger, an extra side salad, or an extra side for a low price. Make sure your menu clearly marks the add-ons and their prices. You can also have the waiter politely remind the customers of some of the better add-ons.

Buy One Get One Free

This classic sales technique can do wonders for your business. While you don’t want to use this for dishes that are expensive and hard to make, this is great for alcohol or appetizers. This simple sales technique is great because it convinces customers that they are getting a great deal, although, in reality, they might have not even thought to buy the item in the first place.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, upselling can be done in a way that increases your sales and keeps your customers happy. The key is to have the staff gently remind customers of their options, or subtly suggest extra toppings or sides. Also, remember that customers should be treated the same whether they choose to buy extra products or not. If you follow these rules you’ll be well on your way to increase sales. If you want to learn more about running a restaurant we have some great resources on our management blog and sales blog.


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