Upselling - how can restaurant service lead to an increase in profits?


A restaurant owner should realize how much impact waiters and waitresses have on customer satisfaction and profits. Restaurant room attendants have direct contact with customers, so does the waiter:

  • with their professional appearance and behavior is an advertisement for the restaurant brand,
  • receives an order from a customer, so has the ability to suggest menu items and encourage additional orders,
  • serves food and beverages to guests, who pay attention to how it is served and the cleanliness of the tableware,
  • converses with restaurant guests during service, thus being able to learn customer feedback,

Restaurant room service is thus close to the customer from the entrance to the exit of the establishment. Despite appearances, the work of a waiter or waitress is difficult and stressful, so the person in this position should have the right character traits. For the restaurant owner the choice of service is very important, because it can significantly affect customer satisfaction, profits and brand building.

What is upselling?

Upselling is a marketing method in which we offer the customer products or services at a higher value than originally ordered. The key to this method, however, is to offer the customer something we believe to be of better quality but at a higher price. The determinant of upselling should be customer satisfaction, which is the most important. Only in second place is profit. An attempt to sell something unpalatable for a higher price will have an opposite effect. The restaurant will earn a few zlotys more but the customer will not order the dish again because they will be disappointed with its quality.

In order for this method to be effective, it must of course be properly implemented in the restaurant and used on an ongoing basis. It is the room service that has contact with the customer, so they can offer a more expensive, but tastier dish or some addition increasing customer satisfaction and profits. Waiters and waitresses should therefore be trained by the employer or manager in the upselling method.

How to apply Upselling in a restaurant?

A sales technique like upselling can be very beneficial to a restaurant. Unfortunately, using it incorrectly can discourage customers. It is therefore worth learning the basic principles of applying this method:

  • The first step is to train waiters, who must learn what upselling is and how to use it. The staff should know the full menu and the taste of served dishes and drinks, so they can recommend something better quality but also more expensive. The waiter should also answer any questions asked by the guests. The owner should indicate what dishes and drinks he is most interested in selling.
  • A very important rule is the principle of NOTHING BY FORCE. You should therefore suggest to the client better quality dishes at a higher price, but with sensitivity, and not by force or push. If the customer is annoyed by the service suggestions, you should withdraw - some people know what they want and do not want good advice and marketing.
  • Upselling should be a routine for the staff, who should use this method automatically, but moderation is very important. Guests coming to the restaurant want to talk to each other and have a nice time, and not feel like talking to a pushy telemarketer who has 100 offers per minute.
  • The upselling offer made to the customer should of course be polite but also specific and firm. It is not enough to ask: Would you like some soup? Do you want some dessert after dinner? The offer must be presented concretely: after dinner I encourage you to taste the delicious meringue with mascarpone cream and fruit.
  • It is also worth sensitizing the staff to offer larger portions: a larger size of pizza, a set of salads instead of one or a larger drink.
  • As in any job, it is important to be specific.
  • As in any job, the supervisor should appreciate and properly reward employees. The waiter and his work have a great impact on customer satisfaction and profits. So if thanks to this restaurant achieves considerable profits the employee should be motivated to further effective work by praise but also additional bonuses. An employee who is not praised for a job well done either verbally or financially after a while will stop trying.

Examples of using Upselling in a restaurant

Customer satisfaction and increased profits are only possible if the waiter or waitress offers something of better quality but also more expensive, or an extra dish, drink or dessert in an appropriate way. Therefore, we want to show how the waiter should construct statements so that the customer is willing to take advantage of the offer.


  • I see that you like flavored beers. So I would like to suggest a natural beer from a local brewery with a strawberry flavor. I must say that it is very distinct and tasty. I guarantee that you will be delighted.
  • I have noticed that you choose refreshing, not too sweet drinks. So I would like to propose Mohito with natural mint growing in our garden. It is a showpiece drink of our bartender.

Additional dish:

  • For the main course I will be happy to offer you a soup with cream of white vegetables from the local farm with garlic croutons. On such a cold day it will certainly warm you up and I guarantee that the taste is delicious.
  • Did you enjoy your dinner? For dessert, let me suggest today made meringue pie with mascarpone cream and fresh fruit. If you do not feel like having dessert now then you can of course take it to go. It will be perfect for an afternoon coffee.

Better quality and more expensive dish:

  • Maybe instead of regular potatoes for dinner I could offer potato cones? It is our novelty and customers are delighted with their taste and appearance.
  • Instead of the usual chicken breast pork chops, I suggest chicken breast baked in almond flakes. Such meat will go perfectly with your chosen salads and potato cones.

Crosselling and downselling

In addition to upselling, of course, we have other sales and marketing techniques that we can use in a restaurant. They allow us to increase customer satisfaction and profits at the same time. So the room staff should know them and apply them according to the possibilities.

Crosselling is a cross-selling technique in which we offer the customer an additional dish or product that matches the order in order to increase profit during one transaction. The room service staff should therefore be familiar with the food and beverage menu and advise customers of additional products accordingly. The main course may be accompanied by a matching wine or appetizer. For dessert, coffee or sweet wine can be suggested. And for a hamburger you can offer fries and cola. The customer is less reluctant to spend more money anyway.

Downselling is a sales technique in which we offer the customer cheaper products or services. So we can say that it is the opposite of upselling. However, we use this method only in specific situations, namely such in which the customer considers a dish, drink or service too expensive and wants to resign from the service altogether. Of course, it is not about selling something half-price to every client who is not satisfied with the price, but about not losing the client completely. Sometimes it is better to earn less but gain a satisfied customer.

An example can be the organization of a special event for 50 people. We give the customer a price of 150 zł per person and the customer says that it is too expensive and will look for another restaurant. As a restaurant we can either say goodbye and hope that for a given date we will find another person or we can offer the customer a less extensive menu for 120 zł, but ensure that the quality of dishes and service will be at the same level. Reduced menu will make us earn less but also spend less on ingredients and thus both the customer will be satisfied and the restaurant will make a profit.

Izabela Praska

Editor of, passionate about gastromarketing and good cuisine, marketer. product specialist.

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