The Power of Upselling

I have never been a fan of suggestive selling because quite honestly I don’t care if someone orders coffee or not. I know, I know, suggestive selling is supposed to up the checks and therefore increase my tip, but for some reason I can’t get into it. I am equally apathetic about up-selling. For those of you unfamiliar with these waiter tactics, let me explain:

Customer: Can I get some more water and the check, please?

Waiter: Of course, would you like bottled water or just plain tap? And can I get you a cup of coffee and dessert first?

Customer: Well, I guess coffee would be nice…

Waiter: Okay, great. One coffee. And can I put some Bailey’s in it for you and also bring you a piece of our delicious and decadent brownie bottom death by chocolate hot fudge brownie pie ala mode as well?

Customer: Oh, no dessert thank you. Just the coffee.

Waiter: Well, we also have a lighter dessert of mango and papaya sorbet with fresh seasonal berries. And can I bring you an aperitif possibly? Or maybe some brandy?

Customer: Just coffee.

Waiter: May I suggest another chicken parmagiana then? Or a bottle of wine? Or maybe you would like to start your dinner over again. Would you like soup or salad?

Customer: Just bring me the fucking check.

I hate when waiters do that to me, so I don’t do it to my tables. I feel like if they want dessert they will ask me for it. They don’t need me to suggest it. And if someone asks for water, I will assume they meant tap water. If I order water and the waiter brings me some overpriced bullshit bottle of natural spring water, I will not be pleased. I like tap. I am cheap. The two go hand in hand. Or what about those places that sticks a dessert menu in your hand without even asking you if you want one? Or when they roll out a dessert cart to entice you with a tray of goodies that have been covered in varnish and shellac?

So do I suggestively sell? Nope. Unless there is a manager breathing over my shoulder, and then maybe I will ask if they want coffee. But ordinarily, no way. Most of the time, I just want them out of my station and if I suggest a hot tea they might say yes and then I’ll have to go fucking make it.

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29 thoughts on “The Power of Upselling

  1. Brittany

    i like upselling. even if they reject, it is so thrilling to offer them something that can make their meal better!!not!my upselling extent is asking if they want the salad bar with their meal.i hate when people ask me for extra. i didnt say i wanted that!!! what makes you think i do!

  2. Anonymous

    I know waiters are just doing their job, but I don't like to be asked if I want anything else. You are right. If I want a dessert or coffee or anything else, I will ask for it. Still I suppose some people do liked to be asked. It's kinda like impulse buying at a grocery store for them I guess. I'm usually just ready for the check.

  3. Elise-Lucie

    Please talk to my boss…The company I work for is harassing us about their &*%$# upselling. I mean, I sell dog food. When you buy a big pouch of dog food that is 80$, do you really want the cashier to tell you about our new fantastic selection of vanilla-scented tennis balls?

  4. Chrissy

    I have never had a waiter/waitress upsell like that… usually its a short try " any desert?" How about the upselling at the checkout counter? all those little extras? I guess the next time I get upselled to the max I will say " how about no tip?" lol

  5. Marty Rojo

    i don't like upselling either. it hardly ever comes across as natural. the only time i like upselling or suggestive selling is if there's auto gratuity… but i always ask if they want dessert… i know when i go out to eat and i want dessert and i get handed the check without asking if i need anything else besides my meal it puts me in a bad mood.

  6. Matt Cruse

    Upselling annoys me as well. We get it just as much in London. I'm now an old hand at eating out and run off a very specific set of phrases like: "Please could I have a glass of tap water with ice and lemon?" At pudding time, I'll probably say something like: "I'll have the chocolate cheesecake, and please could you bring the bill with it.One of my pet hates, particularly in cafes, is that you get an effing questionaire every time you order a coffee: do I want any pastries, this. Do I have a loyalty card, that? If no, do I want a loyalty card because I can then get a free pastry, blah blah blah. Aaargh!

  7. Alexa O

    I've seen people do it well–and by "well," I mean successfully harrass the shit out of someone until they give in and take the fucking dessert. I don't do it at all. I don't suggest a drink in the beginning, I don't sell them on the special, and I hate hate hate when they order coffee when we're on a 45 minute wait. Here's the full extent of my interaction with them: "Hi, what can I get you to drink?…Are you ready to order?…How is everything?… Would you like anything else?… Have a great day!"

  8. Anonymous

    As a customer who eats out 6+ times a week. I do like to be reminded of dessert. I don't want it shoved down my throat, but a simple reminder almost always works for me. I'm a upsell junky. If u suggest it I will buy it, but the same goes on when u walk into my job. You may think u don't need or want it but I bet ya u will have one. I have a great gift of the upsell and appreciate it when things are offered properly. Don't assume I don't want anything else and just bring the check because that is insulting to me. Makes me feel that I am either not wanted, which I see now that I really am not, and also kinda makes me think huh what did I eat enough that they don't think I need dessert. In my experience I'd rather be asked or ask my own customers rather than assume they don't want it. Do I enjoy doing it? Of course not I'm busy and want to move on to my next customer too but it is my job. I am paid to do it. Just my two cents. ~Chris

  9. Jodi

    I worked at a coffee shop and we had to find ways to upsell. One time we had a contest of selling biscotti (…do you want a biscotti with that?) and whoever sold the most won something. Surprisingly, it worked!

  10. MissKris

    @Alexa O I'm the same exact way! Which is precisely the reason I work in breakfast places. Not much to upsell/push at breakfast, besides overpriced juice, and most people know exactly what they want and need to get on their way.

  11. Leigh

    I worked at a restaurant where we were supposed to automatically give everyone a dessert menu after we cleared their plates whether they wanted one or not. I agree with the post – sometimes it worked and they ordered dessert, sometimes they seemed annoyed, sometimes they just read the menu then asked for their check. However, even when they did order dessert, I always felt a little annoyed, because the dessert freezer was in the basement, which meant I had to go down some precarious stairs to fetch it, calling into mind your previous post about the dangers of falling on your ass. And most times I did just want them out of my way, anyway, to clear the way for a new table, so I'm not sure what good it did, either.

  12. Twinkle

    I agree.I work in a Pub in England where we serve food, however instead of table service, our customers just order at the bar and then whoever's on floor just brings the food over to their table.Recently our manager's been on at us to upsell more deserts. Thing is, when I go to clear the customer's dinner plates away and offer them a desert they expect me to go through to the bar and put it through the system for them, just so they don't have to walk there. On a quiet day, sure, but on a busy day I have no chance of being someone's personal man servant.Saying that, I am FANTASTIC at getting people to double up on their drinks. Swings and roundabouts, I suppose

  13. One Hot Mess

    I agree about the upselling…it's annoying. It's polite to ask if someone wants dessert however because for some reason every time I intend on getting dessert that is the time when the waitstaff will shove the check in my hand without asking…this happened at a friend's birthday celebration. Really?? You have a table of 12 here for a birthday and you DIDN'T think we were going to order dessert??? Moron. BTW, that happened at Olive Garden, so … whatever. Great Post 🙂

  14. Toni

    I don't think I've ever had a waiter try to upsell me. But the dessert thing I totally get. I don't mind if they ask me if I want dessert. I pretty much expect it. But, like other people have said, I hate when I do want dessert and they just bring the check and don't ask. Maybe I'd been looking forward to that all day! Then again, maybe I could save some calories and go without…

  15. Maggie

    I must agree. I may ask if my customer would like an app or something and then maybe dessert and coffee for dessert but I refuse to push people. It seems like it's counterproductive in that it pisses people off and actually lowers your tip. When I got to a restaurant, I usually already have an idea of what I want and I find it rather irritating if a server is trying way too hard to sell me something. Also, just because the check is more does not mean your tip will be bigger. Some people are just 5 dollar tippers whether the bill is 20 or 120.

  16. zeebee

    I hate suggestive selling. In fast food it's "is that a large meal?" (I've never asked anyone if they want fries with it, if you have a burger and a drink, the word meal comes up. And at breakfast, it's cheaper to have the freaking hash brown) and to make it worse, twice a month we get mystery shoppers in, to make sure we ask about stuff like large meals and apple pies. I had one today. And he got a large meal (they have to say yes if you offer) … was extra stressful though. I hate you mystery shoppers!Sometimes though, a customer is so vague you have to ask endless questions to press the right button on the till. Asking for a shake isn't going to help, I need a flavour. And a happy meal is usually for kids, I'm not retarded …

  17. muffin

    I think I am going to be doing some "upselling" at Job No 2. Not pleased at all.I am not a waitress, but a customer service representative for a large video chain.The first night on the job, it was explained to me that I would be required (based on the number hours I work), that I would have a quota to meet with regard to bundling. Bundling popcorn, drink, candy, and MOST important, MEMBERSHIPS!Not really sure how long I will last. Never been a great seller and initially did not know that it was a requirement.In other words, I fucking did not sign up for that part of the job. In all honesty, I had the silly idea that I would be ringing up customer's DVDs and such.Thanks for the chuckle!

  18. Dez

    you and i are not in the same business but we seem to think alike and i don't like it at all.after i pay 100 rupees for what i've ordered, they ask "anything else sir?"this infuriates me, and i wonder as you do: if i want anything else i'll ask for it, fuckface.I've told this on accassion to shopkeepers but they don't get the blunt sarcasm. so if shopkeepers don't get my sarcasm, do i blog about it 🙂 ?regards,dez

  19. Kelly

    What I hate about upselling is that during the course of the transaction I could potentially "upsell" five different things. Do you want chicken on that?Would you like the larger bowl of soup?Would you like to substitute something stupidly more expensive as your side?Do you want a drink? What size? Do you want a bottle of water instead of tap? Would you like to try a smoothie?Etc. etc. etc…People don't have time for or interest in that shit. And I certainly don't get any credit for it!

  20. Anonymous

    The ridiculous thing about bar/restaurant owners making bartenders/servers up-sell booze is that a bottle of well liquor costs them 5 bucks, and a customer pays $5 for single well drink. A call/top shelf booze will cost them $20-$30, and they sell said booze for $7-10 a drink. One sold well drink pays for the bottle, 3 call drinks pay for the bottle. $5 nets them $95, $20 nets them $119..pretty simple eh? I pointed this out to a club owner I worked for, and he immediately stopped pushing uspells at staff meetings. High end booze is simply more of a selection, not a money maker.

  21. nsrestaurantgirl

    You obviously don't take any pride in doing good job for your company or your customers. A good server suggests things that will make a more pleasurable dining experience for their guests. Hopefully you get fired soon…you deserve it. You embarrass professional servers with your attitude.

  22. ambor

    I always suggestively sell, but I work in an upscale restaurant, and I believe it makes for a better dining experience. I don’t go overboard, but if I get a large party, I’ll bring a wine list. I usually offer 2 or 3 different appetizers, and make a recommendation of at least 2 different entrees off the specials for the evening. I also always offer coffee, after dinner drinks, and 2 different dessert choices. It’s always gone well, I don’t feel I’m being too pushy, I just kind of work it into my little speech. If they say no, then that’s fine.


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