My coffee shop has a lot... and I mean a lot of great food and drink. Sometimes maybe a bit too much... or more than we normally ever sell. We're a pretty busy store, but not everyone comes in to drink AND eat.

We obviously have to get rid of food we don't sell, and apparently... "we're not upselling enough."

The food is great. Our case is immaculate. We sample, suggest, and talk-up the product to every customer that comes in. The fact is, we get a lot of students... enough said.

My point is... when does upselling become too much? I mean, I see the look on some of my customers faces when they really just want a Latte, and we're trying to shove sandwiches down their throat.

No one likes a salesman...let's be honest. I will never be one. I'm a barista, and I "upsell" but I don't bombard my customers and make them feel uncomfortable.

What do you think?....

- Mama Kat

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Agreed...although if you honestly think that your signature cookies would be great with the drink the customer ordered then by all means say ..."you should get this cookie with that drink...I tried it the other day and it is amazing!"
If you believe in it it doesn't come across forceful but welcoming...if not...then the customer will see right through it.

Alex said:
Man, I have to say - I hate upselling/ suggestive selling, but if you must - keep it discrete. If the customer looks at the food for a bit then you ask them if they're after something to eat, but you should never just say without any prompting "why not have a friand." it's forceful and agressive and most customers know it.
As for upselling coffees - I don't really understand it because we actually have a higher proffit margin on our regular coffee than our large.
Our approach is pretty simple: If the customer buys something to eat (we have a full restaurant) and doesn't imply wanting something to drink we say, "Anything to drink with that?" If they buy something to drink only they we pull a, "Just the drink for ya today?" We don't do it to every customer- never if we already know that they get the same "medium coffee with room for cream to go" every day, day in, day out- and if we know they always get the same thing and have never gotten a baked good we just throw one in for kicks sometimes.
BTW... "Yesterday's Baked Goods" bins work wonders. You would be amazed how much of an impact $.50 will have on someone's willingness to buy something. Also, this let's people know that the stuff in the case is from that day.
Oh... and if you can help it, don't bake everything for the whole day in the morning. We try to bake at least five times a day (we are open 20 hours a day), which roughly translates to once a shift. Sometimes it's just baking 3-4 scones/muffins, but now you have that "fresh baked" smell floating through your shop again. That smell does all the upselling for us I think.

The trick with up selling, is to be behind your product %100. I can never get someone to buy a 20 oz drink because I think that is a disgusting amount of liquid to drink, but I can always sell my favorite cookies, or cheesecake. If you feel like you are conning someone, then they feel like that too. Just the same, If you feel you are acting in their best interest, they will feel that way too.
I agree with Benjamin -- its easy to sell pastries etc at my cart because we don't sell crap. We get our pastries fresh everyday and encourage employees to eat them on shift or take them home so they can offer informed, personal recommendations. Even if I don't care for a particular drink or pastry, I will have something positive to say about it.

When someone orders their drink and lingers on the pastry case when you ask them "Is there anything else I can get for you?", and you whisper, "Try the Raspberry Almond Scone, it's awesome" and they take your advice, it's a really good feeling. You should always feel like you succeeded on two fronts: making the sale, and making your customer happy! Keep it light, humorous and friendly.
Kat...... firstly, I went to your shop's website and looked at the menu and company background. I've visited the Phoenix area recently, and will be back in Prescott presenting a business seminar next week, I guess I missed visiting your shop. I see you guys only opened last April '08. But it sounds like members of your group are well founded in food and beverage. So my comments are not advice, but just sharing what I've seen work at other major and independent food and beverage retailers.

One of the better comments you got included the use of "combo values", which, as we all know, uses one item that the client already wants, and makes, or should make, an appealing offer to add a logical and complimentary item for not much more; maybe pocket change. The concept was indirectly suggested in other replies. For me, that's considered a proven retail marketing method. CKE, (Carl Karcher Enterprises), operates under the name of Carl's Jr. and Hardy's nationally, and they run one product promo after another. For them, and others like Jack in the Box, upselling is softened via the chain's pre-sell that occurs in their media ads and in-store graphics. They make it easy on the store personnel. They tie into one of the most effective marketing messages you can present to your clients; "Add just a buck more and get a drink and fries." It works for all of the chains; big time! In your case, they've already committed to the drink. Your job is to know what will make them cross over the line and add a food item......or maybe two?

My next trip out I'm stopping by to see if you'll be having my favorite special......... "The Cheesecake Lover's Coffee Combo"; espresso based drink at menu price + for a $1 more, a "sample" slice of any of the cheesecakes. If you don't have that special when I come in, I'll gladly show you how it works by buying a traditional cap' and watching as you add a generous slice of some NY Lemon Cheesecake for a buck more. Oh, OK, I said a "sample slice", but if the knife slips to the wide cut side, that's OK too.
I worked for a place that required us to suggest a specific complementary item to go with what each customer ordered. It was even annoying for us to do. I like a more gentle approach where you draw attention to the pastry case by saying something like, "Would you like anything to munch on with that?" It's not too pushy, and it often gets them to buy something if they were not thinking about it.
Unfortunately, I work for a well known chain restaurant. I am a Univ. grad looking for a better job. I have been in the service industry for years and it has become evident to me that this and all chain restaurants are ran solely for the benefit of the shareholders with no true regards to the well being of customers and employees. It is going to backfire and cause more money to be lost. Please recognize that this is a very flawed policy.

Suggestive selling is HORRIBLE. I always have to up sell juice, specific pies, coffee with pie after dinner etc, but it goes totally unnoticed by management when a party that only will order water skews my check average. It should be abolished, but if suggestive selling is a mandatory policy in a restaurant it needs to be encouraged in an positive manner from management. There should be some focus of incentive. Working under the constant fear that you will get your schedule cut and not be able to pay rent will show through to the tables and creates a negative atmosphere.

At this store we are told that our days and hours scheduled to work will be cut if at least 9 out of 10 guests are not ordering beverages besides water.

How people are made to feel is very important. We should see our guests as the source of our livelihood and as an opportunity for repeat business.

However if we are given a table that will only order water the server cannot help but feel that this table has become the enemy and that they are going to get in trouble for having their numbers too low. This creates a conflict of interest between the guests and the servers.

We are located in a very diverse society and the fact of the matter is that there are certain demographics that do not often order beverages besides water in restaurants.
This has caused servers to argue to avoid taking tables of a certain ethnic background because they are likely to lower check averages. It has resulted in the racial profiling of our guests. Servers that are too afraid of getting there schedules cut do everything they can to pass over certain tables. It is wrong, unprofessional, and inefficient. It would not happen if numbers that do not reflect quality of service were not used as fear tactics by management.

When our guests go out to eat they want to be waited on by a professional and approachable server who is kind and knowledgeable. A good server will guide and make suggestions for a guest while they order. However, the servers I work with have recently become desperate in their approach to push beverages and desserts and it is a turn-off for guests.

The servers are pushed so much to focus on numbers instead of service that you can see their disappointment and attitude change when guests do not order dessert and/or beverages. We are losing people who would spend thousands over the next few years because we are disappointed that they will only spend ten dollars today and it shows.

Case in point:

A woman came in to eat by herself on a weekday who is on a limited budget and is trying to watch the extra calories and caffeine. Therefore she could not be sold a beverage besides water, even with the server being as persuasive and professional as can be. However this woman was given efficient and polite service and made to feel welcome again as a guest, even though her check was less than 7 dollars. Because of the good service she received on that weekday she brought her children and grandchildren in to eat that weekend.
The party included almost 10 people, and they all ordered entrees, 3 bottles of wine to share, additional beverages, and pie for the table. The bill came about 200 dollars for ten people.
However the service was slow, inefficient, and the guests were not made to feel appreciated. So much so that the woman who was hosting this dinner said that she felt embarrassed to have brought her family to a place where they were treated like a bother.
The woman said she did not complain to the manager on duty because she did not want to cause a scene. Because of the unprofessional server and poor experience it would be easier to simply take her future business elsewhere, which is exactly what her and her family have decided to do.

Now herein lies the problem with managing from a corporate office with no idea what is going on in the actual restaurant:

The server who originally waited on the woman and gave her good service so that she would return is reprimanded and has her schedule cut because the woman only ordered water. Then the other server who gave the return party bad service (and turned these customers off for life) is given more hours because of all of the beverages sold, while he is constantly causing guests to leave offended and never return.
Server1..... Geeze, I wish I knew the chain you worked for, because recently I was in a marketing discussion with others about the "life cycle of chain restaurants." Our center of attention was Chili's; a great example of a great concept chain, that through observations by many is either going into or already into a decline; poor service, poorly prepared food, etc. Living in SoCal, I've personally been disappointed at the Long Beach and Portola Ranch locations...... big time. Marie Calendars was one of the first theme-chains to end up going from company stores to a bunch of poorly run independent locations. As you cited, it's as much ignorance as greed. In answer to your patron that came back with her family, I would say that since your management is obviously more profit-driven than quality-driven, the way to get their attention would be to share your well presented example.

It isn't "upselling" that's the enemy. It's management's inability, in some cases, to understand how to convert their needs into a true value for the client; a win-win that generates extra gross and also makes the customer feel good about their purchase. Problem here, as you've well explained, is that you're being pressured to deliver. The "upsell" should be so well designed, that you end up being a "hero" to the client.

server1barista said:
Unfortunately, I work for a well known chain restaurant. I am a Univ. grad looking for a better job. I have been in the service industry for years and it has become evident to me that this and all chain restaurants are ran solely for the benefit of the shareholders with no true regards to the well being of customers and employees. ...................

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