The QSR Up Sell: Would you like to add bacon?

1st November 2013
Bacon Frying: A Flickr Creative Commons photo by Chris Yarzab

Would you like to add bacon? Is this a question your employees are asking your customers? The exact phrasing of the interaction between your line staff and your guests is critical in the subtle art of the up sell.

There are time honored (and still effective) methods of upselling at Quick Service Restaurants (QSR’s):

  • Asking what combo instead of what item a guest would like. Or responding to the order of a single item with an invitation to add another: “What type of drink will you be having with your burger” or “would you like fries with that”
  • Always asking if someone wants to upsize their combo
  • Always asking if they would like bacon and/or cheese on their burger, sub or sandwich
  • Adding one final item at the end of the line “would like a cookie with that?”

Every franchise owner/operator and manager should be drilling this routine and the perfect phrasing into their staff.

At the other end of the interaction is the consumer; caught in the hustle and bustle of the work week, evening errands or weekend to-do list and on autopilot. They aren’t focusing on in-store marketing promoting the latest “deal”; they are probably playing with their phone or thinking about the thing they have to do next. In fact, when they come to order, they still may not know what they want. The busy, distracted customer is the one who is most open to a suggestion. That is why it is more important than ever to focus on promoting suggestive selling to staff. A customer may want large fries, but it isn’t top of mind until staff suggests it. Those first words staff utter are the “moment of truth” and providing a script for them to practice is part of that success.

This moment of truth is a huge area of opportunity for franchises and restaurant owners. Small add-on and incremental sales add up to significant revenue increases for restaurants. It can mean the difference between food inventory getting stale and thrown out or bought and enjoyed by your happy and satisfied customer, who, with encouragement, may become a frequent extra cheese buyer.

How do you get employees to change their behavior?

A script that all staff are trained on is important. But that is only half the battle; staff still needs to be motivated after the best training. Here are some tips that can be applied to quick service, fast casual or family dining restaurants settings.

Restaurant Performance Improvement Tips: Employee Behavior

  • Create friendly competition: Start a competition between employees on a single shift, at a single location or across multiple stores. Bragging rights can be a great motivation for employees to consistently ask if your customers would like bacon with their sandwich or burger. If you cannot link upselling to a single till or staff member, have shifts compete with each other against themselves (in day-over-day sales competitions).
  • Give incentives: Put a bonus or prize on the line to generate excitement and get everyone involved dedicated to winning. Employees get the chance to win a prize and you get to increase your sales. Neighboring businesses like movie theaters and big box electronic stores are often open to gift card trades, giving both businesses low-cost staff rewards.
  • Make it visual: Keep a score board where all employees can see it and keep it up to date. If multiple stores are involved make store progress visible to all locations. Learn more about how to do this digitally in real time.
  • Keep it achievable: Staff will lose interest quickly if they perceive it’s not possible to reach a goal. Make the goals S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Realistic targets and structure rewards ensure that no one is left out of the running, during the early stages, of a contest and there is an achievable outcome for their increased efforts.

How are you trying to get your employees to up sell and cross sell? Let us know how you’ve approached this with staff.

Performance Expert at Livelenz. I have a passion for food, the food service industry and technology. I have over 10 years of experience in the food industry from serving right through to accounting, along with five years of working with technology companies.


  1. […] Create a culture of competition – Use sales and labor data to set goals and create friendly competition – shift vs. shift, store vs. store – create competitions, contests, and a leaderboard to drive results around goals like up sells, drink percentage, line speed, number of units sold, productivity etc. These competitions should be aligned directly with the areas you want to improve.  Read more about that here. […]

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