Influence Tips for Running a Restaurant – Part 1

Lots and lots of travel the first half of the year! By the time it was over I’d visited Baltimore, MD; Austin, TX; Nashville, TN; Chicago, IL; Greensboro, NC; Cincinnati, OH; State College, PA; Cleveland, OH; Milbank, SD; Des Moines, IA; Indianapolis, IN and possibly a few other places I’ve forgotten. With all the travel comes many nights in hotels and dining out. I’ve blogged before about how hotels are bungling away opportunities to get more people to reuse towels and bed sheets to help the environment so I’ll steer clear of that this week. If you want to learn about what those hotels could do then click here. As you can imagine, with all the meals on the road I’ve had ample opportunity to observe how restaurants operate. When it comes to engaging customers to help them enjoy the dining experience a little more, and ultimately help the restaurant’s bottom line, there’s plenty of room for improvement so I thought I’d share some psychological tips for running a restaurant — ideas I’d personally implement if I owned a restaurant. I’ll state up front that most of the ideas I’ll share can be implemented without spending any additional money or very, very little in some cases. Restaurant owners, do I have your attention? Because there’s a good bit to explore and due to the need to talk about the psychology behind my suggestions, this will be multi part series with short blog posts over four weeks. Let’s start with the menu and talk very specifically about wine. All too often after grouping the wines (Merlot, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Shiraz, etc.) the listings seem haphazard, at least to the non-wine connoisseur. Unless you’ve a very upscale restaurant with wine lovers for clients I think this is a mistake. Much of the time the cheapest wines are listed first which is an even bigger mistake! In psychology there’s something known as the contrast phenomenon which tells us what people see or experience first greatly impacts how they perceive the next stimuli they experience. For example, when buying a suit no good salesperson would start the sales process by showing the client accessories. If a salesperson did so the cost of the suit would seem too expensive. Think about it; if you are shown a shirt and tie combo that costs $75-$100 to start then the suit seems even more expensive by comparison. The smart salesperson sells the suit first because then, by comparison, the shirt and tie don’t seem nearly as expensive. Even if the customer doesn’t buy the shirt and tie a least the big ticket item was sold. How does this relate to the restaurant selling wine? If the average customer starts reading the menu and sees a $20 bottle immediately then by the time they get to the $200 bottle it seems way more expensive by comparison! However, if the more expensive wines are listed first then by comparison the $75 or $50 bottle starts to seem like a bargain. Simply rearranging the order of the wine from most expensive to least the next time new menus are made up should lead to increased sales becomes more people are apt to buy the more expensive wines. They still may not get the $200 bottle but they’re much more likely to consider some of the other more expensive wines. The same thought process goes for most other menu items. After separating the entrees from the sandwiches, and salads from the starters, the restaurant owner would do well to list food items from most expensive to least. Next week we’ll look at some things the wait staff can do to increase customer satisfaction and tips. Brian, CMCT
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

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