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“Hold the onions.”

“One burger with everything on it.”

“Yes, I’d like to make that a combo.”

We’ve all been there. Do we want to spend that extra $1.80 on guacamole? (A: Hells yes! We’re not going to let $1.80 stand in the way of some sweet, sweet holy guacamole!) Do we want a drink? Do you want any appetizers? These types of questions are all part of the decision-making process when it comes to ordering food at a restaurant. The art of cross-selling and upselling has been around for decades because it’s a very effective way to boost sales for a restaurant.

When you upsell, you open the door for opportunity to increase your order size and overall profits. You are also giving customers options they might not have been considering prior to placing their order. A Fortune restaurant technology survey found, “The percentage of orders booked online or using a smartphone or tablet app – now 6.6% of the total – exceeded the quantity placed verbally over the telephone (5%).” Customers, when ordering from their smartphones and tablets, are presented with more options and subconsciously order more. The convenience of getting online to place an order is very appealing to customers, and the process behind making that buying decision has never been easier.

As you plan your upselling strategies, make sure you continue to keep customers’ preferences and choices in mind. Choose items that are complementary in flavor and create a “whole meal” experience, versus including add-ons that wouldn’t go well with their original choice. You also don’t want to overwhelm the customer with additional items since odds are – if there’s too much to choose from – they simply won’t add anything (decision paralysis).

A well-engineered menu can increase a restaurant’s profits by 10% to 15% on an ongoing basis. Additionally, restaurants with online ordering are working towards building a base of customers who are used to “immediate gratification” – or in this instance – ordering their food faster. Keep the add-ons short and sweet and consistent with that particular menu item.

To make upselling and customizing easier, restaurants owners can customize the ordering experience similar to building add-ons directly into their menu. For example, your restaurant might have four ways to prepare a burger (Well Done, Medium-Well, Medium, Rare). This specification can be integrated into your menu so a customer can pick and choose their options via a simple checkbox rather than forcing an online user to literally spell it out.

But what if the customer wants an extra burger patty? Additional cheese? According to a study from PlateIQ, customers can pay up to a 636% premium for any extra add-ons or ingredients in a restaurant meal and shows that restaurants can mark up ingredients by 300% on average. Using an online platform that gives you full customization allows you to make these changes on a whim to turn a $6.50 order into a $9.25 order.

Another advantage in using an online ordering system to assist in increasing sales for your restaurant is that you can set a delivery and/or takeout minimum requirement. Because customers are paying for convenience, as a restaurant owner, you can determine how much an order needs to be to make it cost effective for your business. A customer might want to order delivery for dinner, but to make it worthwhile, they have to spend at least $10. Setting this minimum requirement encourages them to 1) order another entree, and/or 2) add extra items to their order to hit that minimum delivery amount.

Consider what online ordering software you want to use and how the customer will experience your menu as you build out your digital ordering process. Using a tool like NetWaiter can assist you in keeping track of specific categories that customers have ordered from, to encourage the customer to order from categories they might not have considered. For example, the top 3 categories left out of takeout/delivery orders are 1) appetizers, 2) desserts, and 3) drinks. You should highlight these categories because they also tend to carry the largest profit margins on a menu too.

In theory, the online ordering experience could end once a customer makes their main entree decision, as they navigate to checkout and place their order. A good system, however, will use a restaurant’s most popular menu items within an ‘untouched’ category and suggest the customer add them to their order. These categories can be decided by a restaurant owner based on a hierarchy they choose. Consider setting appetizers, desserts, and drinks at the top of your “add-on” list since they are the most overlooked. Other categories to consider would be ones with high profit margins and categories with reasonably low price points, giving you the best chance a customer will add them to their order and increase your profits.

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