… or what a restaurant server can teach us about selling
Food servers rely on tips to supplement their wages. Because US minimum wage legislation does not apply to this class of employee, researchers estimate that an 8% tip is required to break even with normal minimum wage guidelines. Clearly, if you are working in this field you may be very interested in learning the subtle techniques of impression management to improve the tip amount. Not surprisingly, these same techniques will work for everyone else as well!
Studies conducted on customer tipping behaviour have found that several factors can affect the tip amount, including environmental elements like:
- Restaurant decor
- Urban or rural locations
- Background music
- Size of the dining party
- Amount of alcohol consumed
- Customer gender
- Ethnic background
- Method of payment
But for the most part, these elements are outside of the server’s control. What is within their power is how they interact with the dining party. Studies have found that simple things like:
- A light touch on the customer’s shoulder
- Squatting at eye level with a customer when speaking with them at the table
- Introducing themselves by name
- Giving mints when presenting the bill
- Drawing smiley faces on the bill
- or light verbal commentary such as a joke or weather predictions (“… it’s going to be a great day tomorrow!”)
All of these actions can significantly increase the tip amount received!
All of these actions can significantly increase the tip amount received! This list of what’s in a server’s control are all designed to do one simple thing: INCREASE THE CUSTOMER’S LIKING FOR THE SERVER.
A 2007 article by John Seiter of Utah State University in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology detailed a study in which 94 couples at two casual dining restaurants were observed to verify a hypothesis: that food servers will receive significantly higher tips when they compliment their customers than when they do not.
Based on a random coin selection, the server approached the diners and either offered a compliment on their food selection or not. If the coin selection determined that a compliment was to be delivered, the server would give each diner the following statement:
- … after the first person in the party presented his or her order, the server said, “You made a good choice!” After the second person ordered, the server said, “You did good [sic], too!”
… customers who were complimented left almost 13% more in tips …
What were the results?
The customers who were complimented left almost 13% more in tips that those who were not complimented! Not too bad for a simple gesture anyone can do!
What’s the takeaway?
Your clients want to like you, and will reward you if they do! A simple, sincere, compliment may be all you need to do to get the ball rolling!
photo credit: Chris JL