Reporter's Notebook
How one Burger King franchisee got employees to upsell

How one Burger King franchisee got employees to upsell

Want to get employees excited about upselling? Pay them for it.

That’s the lesson from Bennie Arbour, the CEO of Goldco, a 47-unit Burger King franchisee in South Florida.

A year ago, his company’s sales and traffic were on the decline. But rather than simply give his managers sales and profit improvement goals to reverse the trend, Arbour began looking at what he calls his “leading indicators.”

Those indicators, he said, include upselling, speed of service and total labor. Those indicators can determine the direction of sales and profits at his company’s restaurants.

The problem, however, is that many workers don’t necessarily see the benefit of upselling. “Why would a person making $8,000 a year actually care about upselling?” he said.

So Arbour provided them with an incentive. To get his company’s 1,400 workers moving in the same direction, he began paying them monthly incentives for following through with those leading indicators. Crew members who upsell can get a $25 bonus. Managers who hit their targets can get as much as $1,000.

While $25 might not seem like much, to a part-time worker it’s a nice little bonus. And the incentive has worked. “Oh my God, it totally turned around same-store sales and traffic,” Arbour said. The incentive costs him about $30,000 to $35,000 a month.

In an era in which the industry is complaining loudly about rising minimum wages and required employee benefits, more than a few restaurant owners are finding out real benefits toward financial rewards or higher pay. Restaurants can improve service, sales and build loyalty, which can be rare in the restaurant business.

In Arbour’s case, the incentives have had a measurable impact on sales. For instance, the company currently has a cookie promotion, and workers are being encouraged to upsell customers on Burger King’s cookies. Sales of the treat have tripled. Those are sales that the company otherwise wouldn’t have.

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @jonathanmaze

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