Selling at the Table: A 7-Step Program for Restaurants Needing a Stronger Sales Advantage


"Selling at the Table: Seven Steps to Transforming Your Restaurant’s Profits and Your Life!" is a guide for restaurant owners who are looking for higher profits without expensive marketing campaigns or changing their menu. In seven steps, Howard Tinker outlines how readers can master the craft and art of the "restaurant upsell". Using these tips, Tinker wants to help restaurant owners implement and refine a process that helps them remain profitable for years to come.

Selling at the Table: A 7-Step Program for Restaurants Needing a Stronger Sales Advantage

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Selling at the Table: Seven Steps to Transforming Your Restaurant’s Profits is about the art and method of the “restaurant upsell”. While you have probably heard of the “upsell” (Example: “Would you like fries with that?”) before, Selling at the Table was written specifically for the restaurant industry by someone who knows that industry. The book is a seven-step guide to the items you can tweak and measure in your restaurant immediately in order to improve your chances of getting a second, third (or fourth) purchase from your customer while they are sitting in your restaurant.

What is Selling at the Table About?

Let’s talk food.

Selling at the Table identifies the four primary ways that restaurant (and other food service) owners can increase profit margins:

  • Get new customers,
  • Get repeat business,
  • Raise the amount spent per customer,
  • Raise the prices on  your menu.

The book sets as its target the third bullet point, raising the amount spent in a single visit. In the book’s philosophy, this option is the cheapest and least time-consuming. Acquiring new or repeat customers requires spending money on marketing. Raising the prices of your menu, while an inexpensive option, can hurt your bottom line if your customers choose to eat somewhere else.

Instead, the book argues, why not offer and deliver more value to the customer who is sitting at the table right in front of you?

The seven-step “restaurant upsell” process discussed in this book is deeper than requiring your waitstaff to ask if their customers would like fries with their orders. It begins when a customer steps into the restaurant with the “Warm Welcome” (ensuring that customers are acknowledged and creating an opportunity for a first sale) and continues to the last step, which involves refining the process.

This seven-step process isn’t some magic formula, however. Rather it’s a series of sales strategies aimed at leveraging missed sales opportunities at key points during the restaurant transaction. Some of these missed sales opportunities include:

  • when a customer is seated,
  • once the order is made,
  • while refilling drinks,
  • when a customer leaves.

While many restaurant owners probably leverage some of these sales opportunities, Selling at the Table seeks to combine these opportunities into a single process that can be refined and modified over and over again. In so doing, the authors hope restaurant owners can craft an experience that is worth a higher share of their customer’s wallet.

Author Howard Tinker is a consultant and CEO and Founder of Restaurant Profits. Tinker founded the business after working in the human services field (social work/psychology). Upon arriving in Australia, he realized that he would have to requalify. Not wanting to do that, he used his knowledge of human psychology to launch a personal development business. That business later transitioned into providing support for restaurant owners.

What Was Best About Selling at the Table?

The best part of Selling at the Table is the bare-bones and straightforward content that Tinker provides for his intended audience. Tinker’s experience with restaurant owners is shown throughout the book in the examples he provides and the options he offers. Selling at the Table realizes that restaurant owners don’t want to spend time theorizing over marketing strategies. They want a simple strategy that can be put in place to increase their chances of profits.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

The downside to Selling at the Table is the singular focus. The book’s focus is almost strictly limited to its stated goal, increasing the amount spent per customer. Selling at the Table doesn’t get focus on the different components of a successful restaurant marketing campaign. It points to one piece of that campaign. It also doesn’t provide a lot of specific examples, though it does share sales results.

Why Read Selling at the Table?

If you are a restaurant business owner who wants to potentially increase your profit margins without launching an expensive marketing campaign or waiting for referrals, Selling at the Table may be a book to consider. The book was written for a specific sales objective (getting more of your customer’s share of wallet while they in your restaurant) and provides a simple, measurable, and repeatable process for restaurant owners to start using immediately. If you are a restaurant owner seeking that kind of sales assistance, this book will provide the rationale, training principles and basic strategies for you to take that first step.

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Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.