Canadian Rental Service

Features Business Intelligence Party and event
Would you like fries with that?


April 19, 2021
By Michelle Nicol, CERP

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When you think of upselling, if the image of a sleazy car salesman selling you something you don’t need comes to mind, you are not alone. There is a stigma attached to the art of upselling that can only be altered by offering our customers a transparent and fulfilling rental experience. It is time to shed the belief that upselling equates to taking advantage of someone and to not have their best interest in mind. Upselling is a win-win situation. Your client wins as they receive exceptional service and guidance in finding everything they need for their event. Your business wins as it increases the revenue of each sale so you not only hit your targets, but exceed them.

One of the most effective and efficient ways to increase your revenue is to look to your existing clientele. How can you make more money by adding on to existing and annual event rentals? What does that amount look like to you? Is it rounding up the plates, cutlery and glassware to the nearest dozen? Is it a recommendation to add on extra tables or chairs just in case unexpected guests show up? Do a little bit of reverse math to see what you would need to add on to each sale you did last year to hit your new goals and you will be amazed how manageable it can be when broken down.

Identifying upselling opportunities is something that takes time and requires practice in order to become a natural element of your conversations. Staff require training and the right tools in order to effectively upsell. Knowledge of products and how to operate them, available upgraded versions of items and inventory management are all components to successful upselling. Determine what they are actually looking for by asking deliberate and intentional questions. This will spark a conversation and build a relationship and also provide the detailed information required to guide them through their rental requirements. There are a few questions you can ask.

“Can you tell me a bit about your event?” Some people will share the logistical details such as date, time and location first. If you’re lucky, others will share more emotional information like what the event is, who will be coming and what their theme is. This is your opportunity to connect with them, show interest in their event and offer suggestions on what rentals can add value.

“What is the most important aspect of the event to you?” This will provide insight into what they value most for the event, and what rentals can possibly support their vision. If the food is most important to them, suggest beautiful platters, stands and food display items that will accentuate the food and presentation. If the entertainment is most important to them, suggest adding an upgraded stage, backdrop and increasing their audiovisual rentals to properly showcase the talent.

The power of suggestion is a very strong skill. Your clients won’t know what they need until you tell them what you can offer them. “Wouldn’t this gold bubble charger plate look amazing under the plates you have selected?” “In my experience, guests are much more comfortable on this chair” (as opposed to this other, less expensive option). You want to be a storyteller, painting a vision for your clients to imagine and see it all come together with your suggestions.

When you have determined what base event rentals they need, make specific suggestions on items you would recommend. Instead of casually saying that they may want to consider renting a stage for the entertainment, ask questions about how many people are in the band, what kind of space they have for a stage and the look they are going for. From there, suggest a specific size, design of backdrop and details about the audiovisual kit. This not only shows you are listening to what they want, but you are a true professional who knows your inventory inside and out and can recommend the appropriate items. Be specific and intentional. You don’t have to try to upsell on every single item. When it comes to upselling, it’s quality over quantity; selecting the right upsells for your client will ensure they become a loyal customer and you make the highest return possible.   


Michelle is an award-winning account manager and festival specialist with Higgins Event Rentals in Toronto. She is an active member in industry associations and enjoys serving on a variety of boards and committees.