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5 Tips in Training Your Staff to Upsell

May 20, 2013 By: Nightclub & Bar

Your venue is busy, however, your customer‘s average spend isn’t what you expected.  Therefore, it’s time to teach your staff, how to up sell your product.  First keep in mind a good owner will hire a good manager and a good manager will train his staff to up sell to premium liquor products.  By properly training your staff to up selling, your profit margin could sky rocket and drastically affect your bottom line. Here are five things to think about when training your staff.

1. Understand Your Customer

If you do not understand what your customer’s are drinking, it makes it difficult to properly implement an up sell program for your staff.  You can accomplish this by tracking your nightly, weekly, and monthly inventory.  I would also advise taking it a step further, and breaking down what your customer’s are drinking at each time of the day.  For example, you may figure out during happy hours, your biggest seller is wine and rum drinks, but during your late night crowd, it may be vodka. 

2. Know Your Products

Train your staff to understand each product they will be up selling.  In the beginning keep it simple.  Use no more than ten products.  Say a customer asks for a “vodka red bull” the first thing your bartender should say is, “with Gray Goose?”  Plain and simple that is an up sell. Train your staff on products such as vodka, rum, tequila, gin, red wine, white wine, and beer.  You could create a special that you know will increase your profit margin.  For example, if you are trying to move bottles of Ciroc Vodka because you got a deal on them and a customer orders a bottle of Grey Goose, you should train your bottle servers to suggest the special. 

3. Employee Incentives

Incentivizing your employees is always a great way to get your staff to up selling products.  You could work out incentives per night, per week or per month.  Nothing increases employee’s motivation than cash; however, you can get creative with sports tickets, concert tickets, iPhone, vacation, massage gift card or anything you feel will motivate them.  If you could find sponsors who give you free products that obviously work best.  When I owned Boss Hogs in Tampa Bay, we got free tickets to the Tampa Bay Lighting games.  We used those tickets to motivate staff to up sell. 

4. Objections & Product Sampling 

Be sure to train your staff to go easy on your customers.  Being too pushy will scare off your customers and make them feel uncomfortable.  If someone comes to your bar and asks for a rum and coke, your bartender should say, “Bacardi?” If the customer says, “what’s the difference?”  Your bartender should reply, “In my opinion Bacardi goes down smoother.” The customer may still want just a regular old rum and coke.  And that’s fine.  Do not push them!  Have your staff offer customers a sample of the product, if necessary.  Obviously product sampling in a Nightclub on a Saturday night with 1500 people in it, with a packed bar isn’t a great idea.  If you have a lounge or bar and feel you are in a position to do so, offer the product sampling.  You could potentially make a long term customer and increase your profit on the up sell of the product.

5. Extend The Spend & Stock Your Bar

Have your staff keep your customers at the bar longer.  The longer they are there, the longer you extend the spend.  My point being is an up sell isn’t always just the product selling itself.  It could be a staff member or an experience.  If your bartender or VIP Waitress’ personality is an A+, your customers will not hesitate to accept the up sell each and every time your staff member suggests it.  Now why is that?  Your customers are sold on your employees, not the product.  This goes right back to the show Cheers, “Where everybody knows your name.”    Know your customers names and what they drink and make sure you are fully stocked.  My favorite drink is grape vodka and soda with a lime.  Believe it or not, only forty percent of the venue’s I go to, actually stock grape vodka.  Sometimes I walk out the door if they don’t have the brand I like.  You can lose customers by not fully stocking your bar.


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