Monday, August 22, 2011

Influence Tips for Running a Restaurant - Part 4

This is the final post in what turned out to be a four-part series on ways restaurants can ethically engage customers using the principles of influence to create win-win situations.

If you’re reading this and you happen to be a server at a restaurant then pay attention closely because what I’m going to share next is something you’ll want to avoid. Customers always ask about different dishes such as, “How’s the fish?” All too often servers talk about how much they like the particular dish. The server will say something like, “It’s one of my favorites” or “I love it.” That’s a mistake because we all have different tastes. While both statements may be true, if the customer happens to not like it the recommendation it’s tied back to the server and that could hurt tips.

The better response would be to engage consensus because people generally look to others to see if they’re making the right decision. The response I’d suggest would be, “It’s one of our customer’s favorites” or “Several people have already had it today and said it’s delicious.” Those responses engage the principle of consensus and deflect some criticism just in case the customer doesn’t like the food.

Here’s another tip for servers. The liking principle tells us people like to do business with people they like. The more a server can get customers to like them the better the odds that they’ll be tipped favorably. Beyond saying, “I’m Sally and I’ll be waiting on you today,” try asking customers their names. I’ll never forget Ryan, a bartender at Friday’s, when I made a trip to Nashville many years ago. When he came to take my order he introduced himself, asked my name and shook my hand during this quick exchange. Each time he came by to check on me he used my name. “How’s your food, Brian?” “Would you like another beer, Brian?” “So what brings you to Nashville, Brian?” After a while I felt like a friend was waiting on me. Needless to say, he got a very nice tip.

Little things can go a long way. The smart server is the observant person who can also find similarities and raise them to the surface. If the server connects on mutual interests, hometown, sports, similar names, etc., then liking is engaged and odds are the customer will enjoy the dining experience more.

Another tactic that engages liking is to look for things to genuinely compliment. Abraham Lincoln was right when he said, “Everyone loves a compliment.” Find something worthy of a compliment, raise it to the surface and the customer will feel good. Those good feelings are then associated with the server and restaurant which is a win for everyone.

And the nice thing about all of this is the server will like the people he or she waits on. After all, if the server finds things they have in common with customers and notices things worthy of compliments they convince themselves the customers are good, likable people. As customers sense their server really enjoys waiting on them they feel better, too, and everyone wins.

I’m sure there are more things restaurants can do but simply incorporating the suggestions I’ve made over this series of posts can make a very positive difference to the bottom line because customers will be more engaged and enjoy their dining experience even more. And the best part, as I shared at the start of this series, it costs almost nothing to do what I’ve been describing.

Brian, CMCT
influencepeople
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.



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