Corporate Restaurant Threatens Staff For Not Upselling

Anyone who works in a chain restaurant has had to face the challenge of “up-selling.” It’s a necessary evil in the world of corporate dining and most servers are used to it. As a customer, I hate it because if I want bottled water, I’ll ask for it. And just because my server suggests a Blue Ribbon Brownie isn’t going to make me want to eat one. However, if we choose to work in certain restaurants, that is the price we pay. It isn’t uncommon for managers to run incentive contests in an effort to boost sales. In fact, I appreciate those contests because if it means I am going to get to leave work without doing sidework, I will sell the hell out of some cheeseburger egg rolls.

What I don’t appreciate is this sign that pretty much threatens a server’s livelihood if they don’t sell certain items. I won’t say the name of the restaurant because I don’t want to trash this place anymore than I already have in the past, but you can probably deduce which one it is by some simple sleuthing. It seems that management is perfectly alright with taking a server off the schedule for a whole week if they don’t upsell and collect enough points. Anyone who doesn’t hit 150 points doesn’t get to make any money for seven days, but the person who gets the most points gets a $50 gift certificate. (At least I think that’s what it says. Part of the flyer is obscured.)

That’s some bullshit right there.

First off, only one person gets rewarded but an unlimited number of people can be punished? How is that okay? What if ten servers don’t collect enough points that week and are off the schedule? There won’t be enough servers to staff the floor and the remaining servers are going to be forced to pick up shifts and work doubles. Maybe those people, after busting their asses for seven days to add toppers to some fucking chicken fingers, want a day off. And let’s assume that someone is working six shifts a week and averaging $75 per shift. If they get removed from the schedule, they are out $450. However, the top seller is only going to be rewarded with fifty bucks? That server should be rewarded with $450! That’s a huge discrepancy.

Secondly, no server should lose $450 just because they couldn’t persuade ten customers to order a shrimp skewer. Maybe nobody wanted a fucking shrimp skewer. Maybe the server said to every person who sat in their section, “Can I offer you the Grilled Shrimp Skewer Salad today?” and every single customer replied with, “No, that salad tastes like ass.” Why should the server be taken off the schedule because that server’s customers wanted to make up their own minds as to what they wanted to eat?

Thirdly, that last line of the flyer really rubs me the wrong way: “Winner takes all- who is the top seller, not server?” Is this what kind of environment the manager wants to create for the guests who dine in their restaurant? Do they really want their customers to constantly be on the defensive with their server because of a constant need to push certain food items on them? I would expect that a good manager would want a staff who provides great service to customers and not punish a server who, although great, didn’t sell enough Reuinte Ritas, whatever the fuck those are.

Listen, Corporate Restaurant That Shall Not Be Named. It’s totally fine to reward your staff for doing a great job and selling bottled waters in an effort to increase check averages, but to threaten to take someone off the schedule for a week for not doing so is downright shitty of you. Again, I don’t want to say the name of the restaurant, but it’s just not cool. Show some respect to your staff and maybe they will show some to you in return. By forcing them to sell things that maybe some customers simply don’t want is only going to make the servers resent working for a company where it’s clear that money is more important than the employees.

Again, I won’t say the name of the restaurant.

Not gonna say it.


Okay, click here if you want to know who it is.

29 thoughts on “Corporate Restaurant Threatens Staff For Not Upselling

  1. L

    So u work in an area where peoe have more money to spend right? What is right threatening your staff to take away shifts if you try to upsell to every table but not one table will order anything but water and a $14 or $15 meal because they don’t have the money to spend. Then you’re lucky if you even get a tip half the time because most of them cheap ghetto assholes who come out to eat without really wanting to spend money. I understand wanting staff to upsell and I always do or try to at least but you should not punish your staff by taking away shifts if you try to upsell to every single table and they don’t want it. Whatever happened to Great servers who never get guest complaints who are always courteous to their guests make sure that everything is perfect with their experience ensuring that they’re going to come back again and tell their friends about the wonderful time they had while eating at your restaurant. Bottom line is if people do not want to order something they’re not going to order it just because you said oh well my favorite thing on the menu is our Grande Margarita made with Patron Silver and an extra shot of Grand Marnier on the side. Once they asked the cost and you tell them that one of our premium drinks is $30 they’re going to look at you like you’re crazy and opted to get the cheaper glass of wine or the smaller margarita with the Cuervo. Threatening staff by taking away shift or telling them that they cannot serve for an entire month is not the way to encourage them to want to come to work and do a great job every day all it does is make them resent the entire company and the management. Think of a better way to do things corporate restaurants.

  2. Stephanie in WA

    Somehow before you even said it, I knew you were going to say Applebee’s! It’s one of the few big chains we have in my town, and I absolutely refuse to eat there because their food sucks. Now I know that as a corporation they suck too — it’s not JUST their food!

  3. Bruce

    I get it guys – I’ve worked in restaurants as a dish washer, expo, server, bartender, shift lead, host, manager, cook. I’ve done and seen it all. Applebee’s, like many restaurant chains, has a corporate overhead with a franchise owner that owns x amount of applebees. Those private owners pay royalty fees to build their restaurants, use their menus, use their recipes, and so on.

    Bottom line is that the bottom line does matter for a restaurant. If you’re not making money, you’re losing money in the P&L for supplies, food, labor, liquor, and so on. This whole idea that Applebee’s wants you to wait on Applebee’s (not your) guests, and do it the way they want to do it is somehow terrible and life altering…well it’s not. I spent close to 8 years with Applebee’s doing everything you’re complaining about. If you’re a great salesperson, you’re able to appropriately recommend things and do what they ask you to in a way that doesn’t interrupt the flow or overwhelm the guest.

    “Hi, how is everyone doing tonight?” —they reply— “Awesome. Are you out celebrating anything tonight?” —they reply— “Just out for dinner? You came to the right place. Do you want to begin with a Perfect Margarita made with our top shelf liquors? There’s approximately two pours to a shaker and you can get it flavored if you’d like, the strawberry is my personal favorite —guests reply— Okay so four waters with lemon, got it. Do you want to begin with cheese sticks or an order of boneless wings while you look through our menu?” —guests reply— “No? Okay, i’ll be right back with your waters.”

    You can greet them, find out their “occasion,” upsell a drink that ups your check avgerage, offer them two specific appetizers in about 2.5 minutes if you’re fast friendly and working effIciently. Nobody here can tell me it’s hard to suggest mushrooms or onions on a steak, offer to load the potatoes, and ultimately offer two specific desserts.

    When I managed for Applebee’s, I motivated my staff to upsell through interactive games with other servers on the BOH white board, sometimes making teams, most of the time though I was doing an everyone for themselves game. I always had prizes – no silverware, free food, pick a day you want off, no sidework and i’ll Clean your section. If your managers are GOOD and coach you and teach you, you can upsell with the best of them. I definitely disagree with the way this contest was handled, but there does need to be some level of accountability on your part as a server. It’s a mutual business relationship. If Billy constantly has the lowest check average and claimed tips, Billy isn’t doing his job and needs to be coached by a manager to improve so both the bottom line increases and Billy takes home more money. If after coaching and motivating Billy he continues to not perform, you let him go.

    I know. I know. Those god damn corporate rules are just so tough when all they do is ensure you’re doing what good servers do – raising their check averages so their tips increase. It can be tedious, but it’s not hard, and it benefits everyone. It’s all about presentation and follow up by your manager.

    I’m not here to defend Applebee’s (even though I just did) but I converted every non believer in multiple Applebee’s stores from non believers to believers. But it’s not for everyone. And that’s okay. Capitalism means there’s another corporate restaurant nearby with similar policies and procedures you can go try down the road.

    I also am currently a bartender at Buffalo Wild Wings part time and I seen posts about Blazin Rewards. Same idea as upselling. Plus. I get regulars who use the app because it is a customer friendly rewards app. I see them more, they tip me more, they get free stuff, everyone makes money, everyone’s happy.


    1. CL Johnson

      Kristin, in an above post, said it best-

      “It’s more like a hospital punishing the dr when the patient doesn’t follow his advice. Yeah that diabetic you treated went home & went to town on some Twinkies & now they r in a coma so we r reducing ur pay 25% this month & suspending u. Fuck that. It’s a server’s job to suggest not force.”

      “It’s a server’s job to suggest not force.”

      Servers should NOT be responsible for their customers saying no, under ANY circumstances.

  4. Rachel

    Fuck that shit! I tell my employees all the time that they are doing a great job and give them “gold stars”
    If they need to up sell that much then they must suck ass as a restaurant!!! I would tell them to suck my dick 🤣🤣🤣🤣🖕🖕🖕🖕🤣🤣🤣🤣

  5. meghan

    Ha! Of course it is Applebee’s! I worked for Applebee’s for over 10 years and on year 6 they told me I had to sing the birthday song even if I was alone. I was the first shift closer and worked alone for an hour or two every day. No host and sometimes no bartender. I said only if the managers came and sang with me because I wasn’t singing alone to anyone. They sent me home, suspended me for 2 days and took my closing shifts away for a month. I was also a single mom and needed every penny. The funny thing is that I never NOT sang–I wasn’t even put in that position to sing alone. I just said someone needed to sing with me. They wrote me up for something that never took place. I still have that write up copy 9 years later so I can laugh at it. I have soooo many stories….crapplebees.

  6. Dr Jackson Parr

    Oh no. That’s almost like a real job.

    No owner, manager, shareholder has a right to make their business more profitable.

    Are they forgetting whom they work for? Hint: it ain’t the bottom line. It’s the employees.

    1. Dale

      Do you order everything your server suggests? I doubt it. Do your patients follow every one of your recommendations? I doubt it. Being required to suggest certain items is certainly understandable from a business standpoint. But to be held responsible for the way the suggestion is received is like suspending your hospital privileges for a week because, while you ordered tests for every patient you saw, only 40% of them actually had the test performed.
      But this is Applebee’s which pretty much explains everything. Home of the “10 point station check” and the oh so creepy “Time and Occaision”.

      1. Kristen

        It’s more like a hospital punishing the dr when the patient doesn’t follow his advice. Yeah that diabetic you treated went home & went to town on some Twinkies & now they r in a coma so we r reducing ur pay 25% this month & suspending u. Fuck that. It’s a server’s job to suggest not force.

  7. Joanna Lee

    Whenever I worked in corporate spots upselling was always mandatory. If you got secret shopped and didn’t upsell you would get written up. So someone would come in and order a 16 oz smoothie and I would have to ask them if they wanted to make it a 24 oz for only 70 cents more. While the vast majority said no, I was always surprised by the number of people who said yes. They made us do this because it works a surprising amount of the time and that translates into dollars on the bottom line.

  8. Mikey

    Morton’s used to be a classy old school steakhouse until Landry’s bought em and servers now have to sign up a certain number of the to Landry’s Select ghetto ass club. Thanks Landry’s for flushing an institution down the pipe like a big turd. So you get the discounters coming in compiling their stupid points…. Begging people to sign for points programs like some carnival barker to people dropping $50 a steak is so very tacky…

  9. Lori

    I just commented on one of your posts yesterday that Applebees took away our shifts if we didn’t get enough customers to go online and fill out a servers report. Or if we didn’t suggest the drink of the day. So humiliating to force things down people’s throats!!

    1. Kristina mantrop

      Red Lobster pulls the same shit.Management used the threat of reduced shifts if you did not get your name mentiond on Gust Satisfactiin Surveys.You have to tell everyone about them at the end of the meal.So gross.The last thing you want to ask a table to do is take an online survey about the dining experience. I very rarely would.mention it.It jist felt so tacky.

  10. Alice

    I’ve worked for a corporate mega-chain for about 5 years. This is easily the worst part about working there. We’re constantly told to upsell, with the question “Are you an experience-maker or just an order taker?” Fuck you! I’m a fuckin’ order taker and I don’t give a shit! Look. I’m here to do one thing: make my customers happy so I get money. Boom. If they don’t want whatever bullshit I have to upsell that night, I’m not going to force it on them. If someone wants to order an add-on or liquor, they will do so of their own accord. I will give them what they order in a timely manner and make sure all their food is cooked to their satisfaction. THAT is how I make their experience in my restaurant a good one.

  11. lee

    my chain rest. just recently came up with 12 steps of service……….only about 6 steps have anything to do with service the others are getting customers to sign up for loyalty program……..i for one don’t want to mention our loyalty program on 5 or 6 different times during a guests visit…

  12. William Impellizzeri

    I’ve worked at Applebees for over 6 years. Not only have they been the only corporate restaurant that treats me like a human, but, I’ve NEVER seen or heard of anything like this until right now.

    1. Sarah

      SAME! I left Red Robin to work at Applebee’s. I’ve been there for over two years, and I love it. We have NEVER been threatened to lose shifts. We have contests. But it’s fair and equal for everyone. I left Red Robin bc of shit like this.

  13. McKinsey

    So, if all the servers banded together, except for that one corporate douchebag, yes I’m talking about you Bryce, and refused to upsell anything, would they just close the restaurant for a week because Bryce was the only one on the schedule?!?! I think not.

    1. Danielle

      Mr Bitchy Waiter how I love thee! I wish with all my might that one day I may have the honor of meeting you!! What u do say think and feel keeps me up n my toes and in a weird way makes me enjoy my job even more!!! Thank u for being u and I love u!!!!❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️😅😅😅😅😅😅😅😅


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