Putting Psychology to Work for Your Restaurant by JonRobert Tartaglione of The Humanitas Consultancy

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2017 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show


JonRobert Tartaglione, Founder and CEO of The Humanitas Consultancy

JonRobert is speaking at the 2017 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show on the topic "Using Science to Improve the Success of Your Restaurant" on Thursday, October 12th at 2PM.

Putting Psychology to Work for Your Restaurant

What if I told you I could teach you how to turn about thirty cents worth of candy into a 21% overall increase in tips?
How? By understanding the science of influence.
When most people think about creating a successful restaurant, they think about quality ingredients, fair prices, and exceptional service – and they’re right to do so. These elements have served as the pillars of success for centuries, and will continue to provide a solid foundation upon which owners and managers can build well into the future. However, the tide of the industry is shifting. When most restaurants can check those three boxes, how do truly great restaurants separate themselves from the pack? In the hyper-competitive food service industry, savvy restaurateurs recognize the urgent need to gain a tactical advantage over their competitors.
I provide that advantage.
By synthesizing findings from domains such as social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and behavioral economics, I teach my clients how to strategically structure their menus, train their servers, and interact with their customers to maximize their profits, tips, and customer experience.
The candy example below – if you’ll excuse the pun – is just a taste.
So how do we turn a few pieces of candy into a 21% increase in tips? As you might have guessed, it involves giving it to customers along with their bill. Studies have shown that this practice produces a slight positive uptick in overall tipping behavior (Rodrigue, 2012). However, that’s only part of the equation. Simply handing over a treat does not generate the type of dramatic increase I’m promising. To execute that, we must understand the specific manner in which a server should deliver the candy, and this takes a bit of psychology.
Let’s say simply giving a customer his or her bill with no candy is our control group; our baseline. Were a server to deliver the bill while also giving each person at the table one piece of candy, they could expect to see about a 3.3% increase in tips above the baseline – a modest gain. Were they to deliver the bill while giving each person at the table two pieces of candy, they could expect to see about a 14.1% increase in tips above the baseline – certainly something to smile about.
But it’s not just about the amount of candy, it’s also about how it’s delivered.
Here’s where the magic happens. If a server wants to generate an additional 21% average gain above baseline, they should first approach the table, deliver the bill, and offer each patron a single piece of candy. At this point, they should turn and begin walking away before abruptly stopping – as if they’ve had a change of heart – turning around, and offering each patron one more piece, almost as if it’s their little secret (Strohmetz, Rind, Fisher, & Lynn, 2002).
Why does this technique work so well? Customers are ultimately still receiving the same two pieces of candy, right? But the critical difference is that the gesture seems spontaneous, personalized, and unexpected. By acting as if they were supposed to walk away after only offering one piece, but then returning with another, they’ve created the illusion that they’re giving the patrons special treatment – and perhaps even risking their own good standing by violating a company policy to do so. The behavior of the server seems selfless, and indicates that they were especially compelled to give the customer a little extra, which leads customers to feel similarly compelled to reciprocate that kindness.
And that’s how servers get 21% more tips.
Some say influence is an art, and in a way I agree. However, cooking is also said to be an art, but a great chef always has an intricate knowledge of the science underlying their skill. They understand the biological components of each ingredient, how foods interact chemically to produce different flavor profiles, and the manner and timing in which a dish should be prepared to create different textures and tastes.
Influence is no different. There's certainly an component of artistry to successful influence, but one must first have a solid foundational understanding of the social, financial, and experiential variables that impact human decision-making and behavior.
Come see me on September 11th at 2:00 PM at the Education Station to learn how to use scientific techniques such as choice architecture, priming, anchoring, and mimicry to influence your customers to spend more, tip more, and leave happier.


Find out more about The Humanitas Consultancy HERE.


More about JonRobert

JonRobert Tartaglione is a behavioral scientist who teaches organizations how to leverage insights from domains such as consumer psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and behavioral economics to gain a competitive advantage within their industry. He has been referred to as an "influence strategist," or an individual whose expertise is creating strategies designed to influence human behavior and decision-making in particular ways to meet the objectives of his clients. For his restaurant clients, these objectives typically involve using psychological techniques such as choice architecture, priming, and mimicry to maximize revenue and optimize the customer experience.

JonRobert has been consulting for Fortune 500 companies since he was 25 years old. In addition to operating his own firm, he is also currently authoring a book with two-time best-selling author, Howard Ross. They are signed under Berrett Koehler Publishing.

JonRobert holds a Master's (MSc) with Distinction in Social Cognition from University College London, and is currently pursuing his second Master's at The University of Chicago, where he is studying consumer psychology, behavioral economics, and political psychology. 

Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.




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