4 ways to increase your small business’ average ticket size

Monday, July 12, 2021

When a customer reaches checkout, you’ve already achieved two of the most difficult tasks: Getting them through your doors (or on your site) and committed to a purchase. But if you let the journey stop there, your sales strategy is missing a puzzle piece.

You’ve already caught the customer’s attention and trust, so adding another line item (or two or four) to their ticket should be a no-brainer.

No matter the industry – from retail to foodservice – upselling is one of the biggest opportunities you have to increase your sales. Unfortunately for many business owners, upselling is also one of the most commonly missed opportunities.

As small business owners who have walked in your shoes, we know you don’t have time for lengthy sales trainings and crazy strategy overhauls. We’re going to teach you one of the quickest ways to boost your bottom line with minimal effort, plus how to drive more revenue through the existing transactions you’re already making.

 

ATV, UPT and how to boost them

Average ticket value (ATV) is the total value of the individual sale, while units per transaction (UPT) is the number of items a customer purchases or orders on a single ticket. So how do you boost them?

There are four plays to increase ATV and take advantage of the customer you’ve already intrigued.

 

1. Use suggestive selling

Whether you’re selling shoes, steaks or a service, there’s always something more to add to an order, and if the customer hasn’t found it themself, give them a gentle nudge.

Offer a complementary product (“have you seen the jacket that matches this dress?”), menu item (“the rosé goes beautifully with that fish”) or service enhancement (“you know, we offer watercolor classes here on Saturdays”). If they aren’t ready to commit, give them a voucher, stamped with an expiration date, to inspire a repeat visit.

Avoid vague hints at upselling when you’re speaking with the customer. At your restaurant, instead of saying “what can I get you?” or “will that be all?” kick off the conversation with “should I get some appetizers started for the table?” and clear the meal plates with “can I get you an espresso?” or “what are we thinking for dessert?”

 

2. Strategically place add-ons at checkout

Just like the tabloid display in the grocery store line, a retail store’s checkout area is important real estate for low price-point add-ons. As the line moves, the customer doesn't have time to second guess what they just picked up; it's impulse shopping at its finest. Consider stocking stuffers, everyday carry items or even just fun, bordering impractical treats that embody your brand and will make the joy of the shopping trip linger a bit longer.

If you’re selling online, take advantage of apps that let you offer suggested items based on what the shopper has added to their cart or browsed.

Bonus: These add-ons will improve your UPT and, if you've done your buying strategically, boost margin.

 

3. Never underestimate the value of gift cards

You already know gift cards are a must-have. They’re an easy, quick, failsafe gift, and they're almost certainly going to bring in new customers with each activation. But they can also be used to encourage repeat visits and higher spending from existing customers.

We’re going to let you in on the gift card cycle secret. It starts with advertising promotional bounceback coupons at designated spend levels. For example, spend $100 between now and the end of the month to receive a $20 gift card redeemable next month. If a table has made it to a $90 tab, they’re likely going to add on another appetizer or drink to reach the threshold (and chances are, they’ll even go over).

Who wants a gift card to go to waste? Not many. You’ll see promo recipients come back through your doors next month. Seventy-four percent of people spend more than the value of their gift card, so you’ve just increased your ticket size with the same customer a second time.

This strategy works for online purchases too. If you have an ecommerce store, set up gift cards with promotion codes that can be applied online. You’ll never again miss out on repeat sales from customers who may have only been passing through your town.

 

4. Motivate your staff

Reaching for high ATV and UPTs should be a big part of your daily selling strategy, so it has to be a key piece of training from the start. But it’s normal for upselling to fall to the backburner, especially on busy days. Motivate your waitstaff and sales associates with creative incentives: a one-time deeper employee discount if they hit a daily average UPT of 4+ or a gift card if they sell a certain number of checkout area add-ons. Create monthly bingo cards with items that need an extra push, and reward players for each bingo they get.

A little friendly competition never hurts: Hold contests to see who can sell the most desserts in a shift or the highest number of “perfect” checks (beverage, starter, main course and dessert). Rotate them to keep things fresh and exciting for staff.

Once you have a point of sale with real-time reporting in play, you can apply a data-backed strategy. UPT and ATV reports can be run with a single click. Those results will help identify items that often sell together so you can merchandise accordingly. You’ll also be able to track your highest-performing staff and have them share their ticket-boosting tricks with the team.


This guide is a sample of the insights we share in our Unstuck Playbook program. This free training is designed to take small businesses (Heartland customers or not!) from surviving to thriving. It’s packed with strategies that will help you move the needle. Check it out.

If you’ve already watched the training and downloaded the 21 fastest ways to drive revenue in your business in less than one week ebook, let’s take things a step further.

Upselling and cross-selling are even easier when you have great customer data to work off of. From our customer intelligence suite to customer-centric point of sale systems, Heartland’s products help you get to know your clients inside and out. Want to see more?