Want to significantly increase your check averages? Look no further than your drink menu.

Given that customers spend roughly $181 billion annually on beverages, there is reason to believe diversifying your beverage offerings—and training staff to upsell them—could boost your bottom line. Here’s how to achieve both objectives.

It’s All About Pairings

Customers may come in for the food, but they come back for the experience. Fun food and drink pairings make dining memorable—and they don’t have to include alcohol. Citrusy drinks such as gourmet lemonades and tangy mocktails can help to brighten and balance rich, savory dishes, while sweeter teas or craft sodas perfectly complement a spicier meal. Desserts are fair game too, as espresso can make a great addition to a bittersweet chocolate or fruit-forward final course.

Whatever the combination, teaching your staff how to leverage natural and suggestive upselling is key. For example, one technique is using a personal story of another table’s pairing experience: “If you’re leaning towards the chocolate tart, one of my guests earlier tried it with our espresso and said it went great together.”

Knowledge Is Power

Successful upselling means providing customers with the right amount of information, and that starts with knowledgeable staff. Give them answers to the questions customers may ask about ingredients, flavor profiles and nutrition, as well as the language they can use to describe offerings in ways that will tempt and excite guests. Remember, however, that upselling doesn’t have to be a pitch. In fact, it shouldn’t sound like a sale at all. Some examples might include things like, “Do you like cold brew? I always top mine with sweet cream to make it extra smooth if you want to order it that way.” Or “Oh, by the way, our new cinnamon dulce espresso is like a dessert in a cup if you’re looking for something a little sweeter…”

No matter the technique, training your staff to carry on organic conversation with your customers will yield relationships built on trust—the most effective sales tool of all.

Farmer holding coffee plants

Sell Your Story

With 62% of U.S customers seeking natural beverage options, one thing is certain: As demand for a better beverage experience grows, so do the opportunities for your business. Gen Z and millennials, for example, are continually looking for products that are good for them and good for the planet. As a result, they’re willing to spend more with companies that align with these values. Many of today’s customers also are looking for authentic brands that are just as transparent about their process as they are about the products they sell.

What does all of this mean for you?

The opportunity for stronger upselling starts with a story your staff—and your guests—will get behind. From the ingredients you use to the working conditions of the people who produce or cultivate them, a meaningful story humanizes your business. Consumers who value these origin stories will reward you with their wallet.

It’s time to start thinking bigger about your beverage program. With these tips in mind, you can help your staff increase foot traffic and checks one table at a time. To learn more about how S&D can help expand your specialty beverage program or offer a more meaningful sustainability story with our Raiz Sustainability® platform, please contact us today.