Did you know that upselling increases revenue by 10-30% on average? Restaurants have the opportunity to improve average order value (AOV) in every meal.

Increasing AOV is a practice that your staff can master with the proper knowledge. In this blog post, we’re going to cover the top 3 tips to do this. We’ll go in-depth on why menu training, upselling, and online opportunity are critical for it.

What is Average Order Value?

Average order value (AOV) is the average dollar amount spent by each customer while dining. Then, you divide total revenue by your total number of orders. The goal is to increase your AOV to boost total profitability.

Here are 3 important tips for improving your restaurant’s average order size:

Menu Knowledge & Regular Training

If a guest asked, “I’m looking for a drink that’s spirit forward,” would your servers know what to recommend? Most often the questions servers get are not as easy as this. That’s why it’s critical your staff has in-depth knowledge of the menu. And yes, we know that menus are always changing based on seasons and what’s trending among your guests. Because of this, ongoing food and drink training will help improve your AOV.

Operational Training

Training is something that all restaurants should take part in. For example, at coffee shops, you learn about all the preparations of coffee. With lattes and cappuccinos, it also comes from the expertise of an espresso machine. We use this example because espresso drinks are also often used in restaurants. Servers and baristas should know how to prepare each drink and the questions that go with it. What kind of milk would you prefer? Would you like sugar on the side? Any creamer with that? All that good stuff. You can be losing out on that increase in AOV without this.

Food Training

A new menu roll-out calls for a food show. Set aside time where all staff is welcome to try the new menu. With each dish it’s important to explain the following:

  1. Preparation step by step – Include details about how each main dish is made. Go over what’s in the sauces and how to garnish for food runners.
  2. Ingredients – Educate staff on each ingredient in the dish. Then go over where these ingredients are derived from. Explain how they pair well together or complement one another as a selling point.
  3. Description – A strong, but simple dish description that servers can always have top of mind.
  4. Modifications – Go through what can be altered for dietary preferences and allergies.

All this information is set up to help staff succeed and increase AOV. A proper menu training will act as an open discussion for questions. As your staff tries each dish, ask what they think of it. Likes and dislikes will help others make proper recommendations. Plus, you can’t really sell it until you’re had it.

Alcohol Education

Alcohol is one of the top profitable items for your restaurant. That’s why it’s just as important your staff is educated on it. Bartenders are often the most educated, but there are also outside experts you can bring in. Consider hosting monthly alcohol training for your staff that is 21 and over. You can invite your local alcohol vendors to educate staff on their products. A couple of examples are:

  1. Wine Training – You can separate training sessions based on different kinds of wine.
  2. Tequila Tasting – Teach your staff about how tequila is made and how each kind differs. Knowing the proper way to taste and drink tequila as well as a great selling tactic.
  3. Beer Sampling – If your restaurant is one that carries a wide variety of beers on tap, this is a must. There is a lot to differentiate between IPAs to light lagers that your staff should know. As they begin to understand and appreciate the sensory side of craft beer, it’s easier to sell.

When you set aside the time to host training, your staff will feel appreciated. Invest in your staff and you will see it payback.

Upselling & Cross-selling

Additionally, another critical tip for improving your AOV is mastering the upselling technique. First, let’s go over the difference between the two. Cross-selling is a technique in which one sells food that pairs well together. Upselling is having your guest buy an item at a higher price. Both are needed to increase your AOV. These suggestive selling tactics include matching the ambiance. Is it a sunny afternoon? What sounds nice? A bottle of champagne, paired with oysters, followed by your local catch.

The majority of the time, guests like to be told what they want. It’s the server’s job to ask specific questions to figure it out. For example, when a guest asks for a gin and tonic, a natural response is “Would you like Hendricks or Plymouth?” You can even suggest higher shelf ones as you become more knowledgeable about alcohol. Hence, why alcohol education and training play a major role in upselling.

Check out these questions and statements that your staff can use to upsell to a guest.

Upselling to a guest should be natural, not pressured. Here is where you train your servers to read a table and pick up on nonverbal cues. You may find a table that wants the bare minimum and others who would like to go all out. Recognize signs of interest from your customers. If they’re checking out the wines by the glass, drop off a wine list for them. Or right off the bat ask what kind of wine they’re interested in. Take into account what apps and entrees they’re getting and suggest an exact bottle. More than likely if you’re able to explain tasting notes and speak highly of it, they’ll go for it.

Don’t Miss Out on Digital

Given the technology to allow customers to order food online, digital upselling is a must. Online takes all the personal experience out, but it allows for more sense of urgency. To explain, with online ordering, you can set a minimum order amount for free delivery. This threshold creates the idea that when you buy more food, you save money on delivery.

It’s also important to add automated upselling questions in your online ordering system. Be sure to include prompts such as “Don’t forget your dessert!” These add-on items will complete the whole meal.

Online ordering systems provide valuable analytics about your customers’ needs. They are able to track all previous orders to make personalized recommendations. When you know your customers, it will entice them to order more. Also, the online experience isn’t rushed. Guests feel more inclined to take their time and add more when prompted.

Cost friendly help

Would you like to see how our technology solutions can help with that? See, upsell. Make it easier for your staff to naturally upsell by adding prompts in your POS system. With CAKE, all your add-ons and upgrades are in the staff’s point of view so they ask the questions every time.

When you use these tips combined you’ll see instant results. A reminder that when you invest in your staff, you’re investing in the restaurant. Ongoing training and learning opportunities will increase employee motivation and productivity. Both you and your staff will gain a lot from it.