Article > Opinion

You Want Fries with That?

By Brian Cruickshank

It's no clich: Add-on sales can add some serious numbers to your store's bottom line. Just ask any waitress.

Last month, I attended the Parts Plus national convention in one of my favorite cities, New Orleans. A full report on the convention appears in this month's issue, on page 20.

New Orleans is a lot of things - and if it's anything, it's a gourmand's town. It's tough to get a bad meal there. And don't judge a book by its cover; many of the city's seedier, darker corners (of which New Orleans has many) offer some of the best meals you'll find anywhere.

While near the outskirts of the French Quarter, I plopped myself down in one of these out-of-the-way restaurant/bars. I was hungry and had not yet had any real Cajun food. The waitress came over, and I ordered a cup of seafood gumbo and a crawfish po' boy.

"You want fries with that?" she asked. "Sure," I said, answering automatically.

That little encounter between the waitress and me got me thinking about some pretty important lessons I learned at one of the Parts Plus University training sessions the day before. In a class called "The Nine Numbers Jobbers Need to Know," Parts Plus Director of Retail Sales Bob Barstow discussed the power of the add-on sale.

Consider this scenario: Barstow examined the sales of a Parts Plus member store. This store was a typical jobber, doing about $1 million a year, with maybe 30 percent of that in friction. He started playing around with the friction sales numbers and found something very interesting: If the counter professionals at that store had suggested and sold a hardware kit along with just half of all the friction sold, the store would have increased GMROI by three points, adding an additional $20,000 in profit to the company's bottom line.

There is certainly nothing unethical about add-on sales, especially when you're suggesting something the customer really needs. With the brake hardware example, you are really doing the customer a service; after all, it's not a complete brake job if the hardware's not been replaced. Do you suggest a hardware kit every time you sell a set of pads? Every time you forget, a very profitable opportunity slips through your fingers.

Think of this another way: If you were to increase each transaction by just one dollar, how much of that dollar would fall to the bottom line? The answer is all of it, less the cost of the product. There's no rent. No utilities. No advertising associated with that little extra sale. The easiest way to make more money is to sell more product to existing customers. The restaurant business understands this. Make sure your colleagues do too.

How was my crawfish po' boy?

Very good. And the fries? Very profitable.

  Previous Comments
avatar   Wolfe   star   8/1/2009   12:44 PM

This is something that is mentioned at every company, and yet employees still manage to forget to ask if you want extra with that order. I used to work at Benito's Pizza and I had a manager that hounded everyone to ask if they wanted bread with their pizza, and sauce with their bread. I had an order come in and the gentleman on the phone was the picture perfect example. Very kind, very polite, very agreeable. He said he wanted a large pizza and that was it. I told him about the manager's special, which was a pizza and bread sticks. Then asked if he wanted sauce with the bread sticks. And even offered the garlic cream cheese (which is phenomenal) and he agreed to everything. That order ended up being my managers favorite, which resulted in me getting a raise as well. He still, to this day, uses that order as his prime example of "ask and see." Remember, the worst that can happen is the customer says, "no thank you."

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