Suggestive selling is something restaurants have been practicing for years, but in today’s economy, it may be an even more valuable asset. Research shows that restaurants that master suggestive selling can up their sale averages by 30 per cent, while also boosting customer loyalty. 73 per cent of diners say that their experience relates to loyalty, so if you nail the experience, repeat visits will come.
The key to successful suggestive selling is to offer guests something that improves their experience, rather than simply highlighting items with a bigger margin. Getting great at this technique gets you to engage more with your customers, provides a better experience, and raises your guest cheques, so everybody wins!
Train your staff
Teach your team to put guests first, listen to their needs, and suggest options that will truly elevate their time at your restaurant. This means your staff needs to be well-versed on your menu so they can offer suggestions and alternatives, along with dishes with complementary flavour profiles. Give your staff the opportunity to try the items they are recommending so they offer educated suggestions to your guests.
Offer a loyalty program
By its very nature, loyalty programs encourage guests to visit more frequently and to add more items to their orders as they strive to attain program rewards. In fact, studies show that loyalty members visit 20 per cent more often and spend 20 per cent more. A loyalty program offers the opportunity to strategically feature items that offer more points to your members but also offer higher profit margins for your restaurant.
Technology can help suggestive selling, too. If your guests order via iPad, for example, include dessert images on the entrée page to get them thinking about adding another course to their order. Don’t forget takeout, too. Customers searching your website or ordering online can also be influenced by delicious-looking images and add-on promos.
If you get it right, suggestive selling provides a better guest experience, improves your profit margins, and brings customers back. When you give customers what they want – even if they don’t know it when they walk in – it makes for a better experience, and it’s one they are likely to repeat.