Lets face it, right now in 2014 our economy is in trouble. No hiding it regardless of what the statistics are on the evening news, the story with any hospitality business owner I speak to is that we’re all down about 20% on the previous year… a year which wasn’t great either.
If you didn’t think so before; you better believe it now upselling is important. The sad thing is, many people don’t see it that way, your staff certainly don’t. This is an ongoing problem with my own staff, and you probably have this issue also. Some people are simply in the wrong industry. We don’t want order-taking robots. We want perfect hosts, and we need salespeople.
I’ve definitely seen employees resist this move towards a sales-orientated workplace. Far too many people think that it’s beneath them. So how do you change the way they work and improve upselling amongst your staff? I know some of you will be thinking the obvious – get new staff. Hire a salesperson. This is an option, but it’s not always the best option. Imagine how hard it would be to get things running well again if you sacked half of your workforce. Morale would be shattered. Thankfully, you don’t need to get new staff, you just need to give them an incentive.
Why is upselling so important?
Upselling obviously increases the amount you sell, so it should therefore increase your profits. However, what some people fail to spot is that upselling actually helps the customer as well. Some people WANT to be sold to. It shouldn’t be viewed as a nuisance or off-putting – it should be embraced as a service. Sometimes, people aren’t sure what they want, and if you can offer them a nice suggestion, they’ll be willing to pay for it.
Let’s look at wine. If someone asks you to recommend a bottle of red, that doesn’t mean they want the cheapest one. It’s giving you the opportunity to fulfil their needs whilst selling a more expensive item. If you can make it sound appealing, they’ll probably go for it.
It actually helps build customer loyalty and improves their experience too. When they end up liking the wine you recommended, they’ll be even more impressed. Often, they’ll think to themselves – “Wow, they really did know what they were talking about, and I never would have gone for that wine otherwise.”
So who’s left out in this scenario? It’s good for the business because they are selling more expensive or additional items. It’s also good for the customer because they’re getting to try something new that they might not have tried otherwise. Currently, the only person who achieves nothing is the staff member. Some particularly lazy ones might actually see it as more work for themselves so they’ll be reluctant to do so. That’s why you need to offer them a worthwhile incentive to get them selling.
Why incentives are so important
People go to work to earn money, it’s as simple as that. Some will be resistant to change because they’ll have been getting on just fine without it. The best way to get your staff selling is by providing them an incentive to do so.
If you can track each employee’s specific sales then this can be easy to implement most point of sales/registers can do this. If your profit margins allow it, actually adding a direct cut of the pie to your employees can change their minds dramatically. If they start noticing a real increase in potential earning, they’ll start doing their best to sell your stock.
However, this isn’t always possible. Not everyone has the technology that allows for such detailed reports on what your staff are or aren’t selling, so you need to use other incentives.
A great technique I can offer is to name one item of the menu each day that you want staff to sell. Whoever gets the most, wins a prize. From bottles of wine to dining vouchers. It’s easy to track on a nightly basis and you’d be surprised how much of a difference it makes. When I started playing games like this in my cafes, sales in particular items skyrocketed. It might not be extra money in their pocket, but your staff will still go for it. Some people simply want to win for winning’s sake, rather than for the actual prize itself.
The great thing about these games is that they’ll build a level of sales into your staff that’s hard to get rid of. You’ll start to notice that even when a particular item isn’t the one they’re supposed to be selling that night, they’ll still start selling it in the right situation. That’s precisely the reaction you want. You’ll be training them to become great salespeople without them even noticing. Sneaky!
I was at a restaurant only last week for dinner, I was shocked when I wasn’t offered a drink even after ordering my meal. You’d be surprised how often it happens. In my mind, anyone ordering food, even at a fast food takeaway should be offered a drink. So why aren’t they? Some are simply unaware, and some simply don’t care. There’s nothing in it for them, so why should they bother? If I was running those places, I know that I’d be pushing hard for the upsell. With limited customers this is an ideal way to increase turnover… considerably if done well.
Implementing an upsell strategy really isn’t as difficult as you think.
The same is true in a cafe. If someone is ordering a coffee, offer them cakes or other sweets to go with it. Some people are passive but like to say yes. They’ll agree to something if they’re offered it but they never think to ask. These are the people you want to upsell to. Not only that, but selling cake in a cafe should actually increase the number of drinks you sell as well, as people get thirsty. It’s a win-win situation.
Upselling is important. You need to make sure your staff are part of the process and are motivated to sell the right items. Upselling is good for business and it can be good for the customer. Make it good for your staff too, and everyone will be on the same page.