How to master upselling (part 1)

Home Column How to master upselling (part 1)

(First in a series) Most dealers who come to me for coaching want to increase revenue. There are really only three ways to accomplish this:

  1. Increase the number of transactions.
  2. Increase your overall margins.
  3. Increase the average size of your transactions.

I teach dealers who want to increase revenue and, even more importantly, profits, how to do all three. One of the most effective ways to make this happen is with upselling. Let’s look at some examples from outside the flooring industry.

The Dessert Tray

I was at an upscale restaurant on a date night with my lovely and amazing wife and business partner, Jolyn. “Can I bring you a glass of wine or a cocktail while you’re looking at the menus?” the server asked. After the drinks arrived the server asked if we’d like to start with an appetizer. I wanted fried calamari and Jolyn wanted some kind of flaming cheese thing, so we got both. Part way through the meal the server asked if we’d like more drinks. I ordered a second gin and tonic.

It was a big meal and by the end we were both pushing maximum density, so an after-dinner treat was not on our radar. But then the server arrived with a big tray full of the most decadent desserts. We tried to resist for a moment but, to quote Star Trek, “resistance was futile.” We wound up splitting a crème brulee.

Now, the cost of just the main course by itself was probably around $100. But with the drinks, appetizers and dessert the total tab was closer to $180. That’s an 80% increase in revenue. That extra 80% didn’t happen by accident. Over the course of our meal the server upsold us four times, which she was trained to do.

“Do you want to supersize that?”

Another upsell example comes from McDonald’s. The famous: “Do you want to supersize that?” question encouraged customers to upgrade their meal. For just a few cents more they could increase the size of their fries and drinks. This seemingly small upsell had a significant impact on McDonald’s revenue, with studies suggesting that customers who accepted the upsell increased their transaction size by $0.50 to $0.90. When you consider the sheer volume of daily transactions at McDonald’s worldwide, this upsell strategy alone translates to millions of dollars in additional revenue each year.

Add onto your hotel stay

Upselling happens continuously in the travel and hospitality industry as well. You can’t book a hotel room without being offered spa packages, dinner, a romantic dinner for two or a guided city tour. These add-ons not only create a better experience for the traveler, but also provide the hotel with significant additional revenue beyond the cost of the room.

Upgrade to better seating

Airlines have an entire menu of upsells that they offer each time you buy a ticket. Some of the upsells include first-class seating, priority boarding, access to airport lounges and trip insurance. These upsells cater to customers who are willing to pay for extra comfort or additional perks. For airlines, these upsells can significantly increase their overall revenue and profitability.

Jim Armstrong is the founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins and work the hours they choose. For information visit

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Aug. 14/21, 2023

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