Similar to OCBs, suggestive selling is no slam dunk in the drive-thru lane. All brands do it to some degree, but only one company, Carl's Jr., featured a suggestive sell in the majority of visits during the study.
There are a number of reasons why restaurants suggest other menu items to add to a purchase. It could be to get trial on a new menu innovation, or possibly to complete a meal; the vast majority of upsells at every brand were either for a combo or a special. But of course, profit is the main objective, as suggestive sells drive higher check averages.
As Arby's Kelly explains it, there's a bit more of an art to the suggestive sell than simply doing it or not doing it. He says employees are directed to play each interaction by ear; if the drive thru isn't too busy or if a customer orders very quickly and can afford a bit more time at the order station, Arby's employees can engage that customer with a suggestive sell. It's a good opportunity, he adds, for team members to show a little personality.
"If my team isn't running a fast and efficient drive thru that's as friendly as possible and hitting 100 percent accuracy, quite honestly, I don't need them doing any suggestive selling," he says. "If you're running a very efficient drive thru and somebody just ordered a sandwich and a drink, I want you to make sure that you let them know they can have some great Curly Fries to complete the deal."
Of course, as Kelly also notes in reference to order-confirmation boards, digital menuboard technology can also do the upselling for the employee by suggesting potential add-ons on the screen. This was a major factor for McDonald's in its Dynamic Yield acquisition as well; CEO Steve Easterbrook noted in the company's Q2 earnings report in July that the technology could automatically suggest additional items based on the guest's order and other factors.