4 Ways Restaurants Try to Get You to Spend More Money

Asking questions like, “Do you want fries with your meal?” or “Would you like to supersize that?” are not the only ways for foodservice establishments to increase sales. Believe it or not, you may have been subjected to sales pitches like these, or other sneaky upselling techniques, without even knowing it. The truth is, the tactics that restaurants use to try and get you to spend some extra money are much subtler than you may realize. Here are a few of them to be aware of from now on.

... people typically don’t pay as much attention to drink-prices as they do to food-prices...

4 Ways Restaurants Try to Get You to Spend More Money

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1. Removing the dollar sign from the menu. According to Greg Rapp, a menu consultant in California, restaurants and fast-food chains are advised to leave the dollar signs off the menu when listing prices, in order to attract more attention from customers. In other words, dollar signs remind people of money, so when you use dollar signs in your menu, your food looks more expensive to your guests.

4 Ways Restaurants Try to Get You to Spend More Money

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2. Eye-catching language and imagery. Of course we are more likely to want an item on the menu when there is a colorful, realistic picture of the mouth-watering meal on the page. Furthermore, we are more likely to want to spend money on a meal when it is detailed and descriptive on the menu. When compiling a menu, one of the goals is to make a fairly plain and simple dish sound special and worth the money. For example, paying $18 for fish and a vegetable sounds absolutely absurd, right? Well, how about “flaky baked cod, marinated in our special house-made sauce and served with country peas.” Now that doesn’t sound so bad.

4 Ways Restaurants Try to Get You to Spend More Money

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3. Items set out on display. When you can actually see an entree or a dessert in front of you, it is easier to visualize yourself eating it, and somehow, it actually becomes more appealing to most people. This is the same logic that grocery stores and drug stores use when they conveniently place all of their candy at the check-out register. A classic example of this in the foodservice industry is when fancier restaurants bring out a dessert cart, or a tray of mini-desserts to show to customers when choosing their desserts. This presentation technique has been shown to increase sales in many restaurants, compared to others who do not use this method.

4 Ways Restaurants Try to Get You to Spend More Money

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4. Control the choices you offer people. The specific choices you offer people may help push them to spend more money. This is especially true with drinks, as people typically don’t pay as much attention to drink-prices as they do to food-prices. For example, paying just 25 cents more for a bigger beverage seems like a great value and an obvious choice to most people.


So the next time you’re at a sit-down restaurant or a fast-food joint, keep these tips in mind if you’re looking to save a couple of dollars. Remember, the sneaky methods that restaurants use to try and get you to spend more money are much subtler than you realize.


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CKitchen, an E Friedman company, is a FULLY AUTHORIZED Food Service Equipment and Supplies Dealer that represents all major brands of commercial kitchen equipment. Since our inception in 1984, we focused on quality products and upscale projects. Our projects division is responsible for some of the largest food service projects in the country including Hotels, Restaurants and Institutions. We are loyal to our customers as well as our employees. Our average sales professional has been with us for over 8 years. This accounts for the fact that they are some of the most knowledgeable in the Restaurant Equipment industry. We continue to strive for value added service while maintaining the lowest prices in the industry. The bottom line is that we would like you to be pleased with your purchase today and for years to come...
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