How To Increase Sales Through Upselling Your Portable Sanitation Business

How To Increase Sales Through Upselling Your Portable Sanitation Business
If most of your sales are basic portable restrooms, the upsell offer might be an upgraded equipment style. (Photo courtesy of Satellite Industries)

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If you’ve ever placed an order for a hamburger at a fast-food drive-thru window, you were likely asked, “Would you like fries with that?” Or perhaps an order for “Meal #2” generated the offer to upsize your fries and drink for just 39 cents. Suggestive selling is a sales technique that works to increase revenue, profit and customer loyalty. 

Many business owners worry that customers don’t like to be bothered with recommended add-ons to their original purchase, but when suggestive selling is done properly, the majority of buyers will appreciate the opportunity to consider additional options. Suggestive selling doesn’t mean being pushy, in order to sell unwanted goods or services. Quite the opposite is true, as the goal is to offer complimentary items that add value or additional benefits and thereby improve the customer’s overall satisfaction. For example, offering the drive-thru customer a fish sandwich to go with their hamburger order isn’t as beneficial as suggesting an order of fries to complete the meal. 

Suggestive selling is often referred to as upselling because, generally, the most difficult part of the sale (getting the buyer to make a purchase) is already done. The upsell is the additional part of the sale. 

Once the customer is placing an order, they have already made the commitment to do business with you. It takes marginal effort to offer something else, which is why suggestive selling is one of the least costly techniques available to increase each sale, and strengthen profitability. In the example of Meal #2, the customer has already made the decision to purchase the meal. The upsell is the additional 39 cents for the larger order of fries and drink. 

Key to suggestive selling 

Suggestive selling doesn’t happen by chance; it should be an integral part of guest service. The key to successful upselling is your employees. A well-designed suggestive selling program requires planning and also training for employees. Consider incentives to motivate sales people to deliver these increased revenues, profits and customer satisfaction for your business growth. 

To begin a suggestive selling program, examine what products your company sells most often and how you would like to upsell each of them. Consider the products that you currently offer; what supplementary options could you provide to generate additional revenue? 

If most of your sales are basic portable restrooms, the upsell offers might include one of the following: interior hand-wash station, hand sanitizer dispenser or upgraded equipment style. Determine the rate you will charge for each item and ensure that you have the equipment and supplies available to deliver. Train your staff on the available options and make sure they are able to communicate the features and benefits of each. 

Suggestive selling begins with a positive attitude and an inquiring mind. Encourage sales and customer service people to listen and respond to a client’s needs with enthusiasm. Teach them not to suggest whatever comes to mind, but to make sure that the suggestion is relevant to the intended purpose. 

When a client places an order, the employee should gather information to understand how the equipment will be used so that he or she can offer suitable suggestions or recommendations. Suggestive selling is a tool — and should be seen as one — for educating the customer about additional options that are available to improve the overall experience with your services. Suggesting a hand-wash station inside an otherwise basic portable restroom provides an added benefit to users, who can wash and dry their hands. In other cases, an alternate style of equipment may be more suitable for the client’s needs. 

Define expectations 

Don’t assume that the upselling process is obvious to your employees. Define your expectations and point out opportunities for suggestive selling. Most employees won’t realize how these small sales increases can add to the bottom line. Incentives can help them see results in their own paycheck. When this connection is made, paired with spot-on training, the rewards come full circle. 

Be prepared for some offers to be rejected. However, simply making the suggestion is beneficial for two reasons. First, customers are informed of additional options they may not have otherwise been aware of, and that personalized treatment increases customer satisfaction. Second, customer loyalty is positively affected by the higher level of customer service, which creates a greater likelihood of repeat business and subsequent orders (often for the same recommended goods and services). 

Suggestive selling is an effective program and the easiest way to increase the average value of each sale, strengthen profitability and improve customer satisfaction. If the average value on just one in 10 customer sales is increased by 25 percent, overall sales will increase by 2.5 percent and that’s good news for your company’s long-term success. 

Suggestive Selling Tips:

  • Have a plan
  • Listen and respond to customers’ needs
  • Make complementary suggestions 
  • Recommend relevant options
  • Explain the benefits of options presented
  • Show enthusiasm and a positive attitude
  • Understand that not everyone will say ‘yes’
  • Suggestive selling improves customer service 

About the Author
Beverly Lewis runs a marketing agency, the Beverly Lewis Group, dedicated to helping small businesses with marketing solutions. Having served as the director of sales & marketing for two portable sanitation companies, her unique background combined with an expertise in marketing is well suited for the portable sanitation industry. She believes that a company’s image is represented in every aspect of the company. She is an active member of the PSAI and was awarded the distinguished Sani-Award in 2008 for outstanding service. Contact Beverly at or visit


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