Leading in Tough Times 5 – Do BEST What You Do Often

Friends,

On the Everyday Leadership radio show our goal is to “make work work.”  A waitress wanted advice and said: my clientele is changing, less people are eating out, and tips are down . . . but, she added, I know you can’t help me with that.  A distant bell was ringing in my head, about a study I once read that said servers who find a way to physically touch their customers get higher tips.  So, I went Googling for it, and he came up on page one of my search.

I mean Professor Michael Wynn who teaches at Cornell University.  He has done tens – maybe fifty – studies on the variables that affect tipping.  Can you guess some?  Introducing yourself by name, crouching down to talk, repeating the customer’s orders back to them, thanking them by name (usually from seeing their credit card), and yes, physically touching them.  So, I started out on a non-scientific study, asking servers if they knew these things.  Almost none did.  And I asked Professor Wynn whether restaurant management routinely teach wait staff about this research.  Very infrequently, he answered -  despite the obvious rewards they stand to reap from customer satisfaction and loyalty.

What’s the everyday leadership lesson?  In tough times, get the research about your everyday work.  We do over and over again what we have done over and over again.  Yet Google is always sitting right there in our office, waiting for us to learn there’s a simple, better, more efficient way, and a way that’s probably been proven.   When was the last time you searched on your core task or tasks to find out what’s new, proven, and effective?  Google will give you results in under a second.  Got a minute?

In tough times:  Control what you can control, and in your core business, learn all you can to

Lead with your best self!

Dan

15 responses to “Leading in Tough Times 5 – Do BEST What You Do Often

  1. We are living in a tough economy nowdays. If customers and tips are down, make an adjustment with your spending. With the cost of living up, and if there is any relief in the future, we all will be some pretty darn good “corner cutters”, which our parents and grandparents had to do all the way back to the great depresssion. This will help to teach us the value of the AMERICAN dollar.

    Thomas K. Burke
    Corrections Officer
    Jackson

  2. With respect to the physical contact equation to larger tips…..what if the customer is a couple, middle aged, and the waitress is a hot looking young lady. Might that be contrued by the wife/partner as being improper, and result in a contemptuous mindset from the lady customer, thus getting a small tip?

    1. Actually, my sister was a waitress for a LONG time and WAS quite “hot looking” (and still is) and served at an exclusive country club envionment, where the older wife did in fact control the tip amounts. My sister got much larger tips, and more requests for her from these couples than the other waitstaff! Her secret, ignore the man, (he just wants to look at her boobs anyway) and FAWN all over the woman, complement the woman, smile and attend to her drinks, dinner etc. If there was a problem with the man, the wife would let her know! She was even invited to work and when she got her bartenders licence, at exclusive parties at their HOMES, where she made upwards of $350 per night, and this was in the early 80’s.

  3. Dan,

    Great article and wonderful reference site.

    People like to be appreciated! It makes a difference not only at a restaurant but also in the work place. Appreciation goes a long way.

    Thanks for keeping us on our toes.

    The TIP

  4. Why do Salespeople Fail?

    1. They think they can get away with “winging it.” This expression comes from the theater; where it alludes to an actor studying his part in the wings (the areas to either side of the stage) because he has been suddenly called on to replace another. First recorded in 1885, it eventually was extended to other kinds of improvisation based on unpreparedness.

    Being prepared for the customer interaction is important. Knowing what action you want the prospect to take based upon this sales interaction allows the sales person to focus. Having a strategy of what to ask, what to show and tell helps to move the prospect to taking the desired action. Anticipating obstacles to the sale will allow you to plan how to go around or over potential “roadblocks” in accomplishing your sales objective.

    2. They don’t understand the impact of their personality on specific buying styles. This shows up in not really listening to the prospective customer and, instead, filling the sales interaction with sales talk. They don’t answer questions well because they don’t listen for the assumptions/beliefs that’s behind the prospect’s words. Their presentations are not in line with what the prospect wants to know. Being out-of-touch with the prospective customer’s personality style insures that the inability to communicate will sour the sale.

    To improve your sales people’s ability to sell well, train and coach them on a proven sales methodology that allows them to prepare for every major sales interaction. Provide them an understanding of their personality’s strengths and weaknesses and how they can “read” their prospect’s buying style. Usually a sales person’s weakness, in the buyer’s perspective, is an over extension of a strength and can be toned down through self-management by the sales person.

    More sales tips for good and tough times at: http://www.SalesTip.info

  5. Esteemed trial attorney Elbert Hatchett taught me the best lesson on tipping. Be generous. I had the pleasure of co-counseling a case with him. On a trial break, we grabbed a bite at a local diner with Cyril Hall. Upon leaving Hatchett left a stack of single dollar bills far exceeding any ordinary percentage calculation of tips. Thinking he left money for the bill that needed to go to the cashier, Cyril pointed out “no, he just does that.”
    I have taken Hatchett’s rule on tipping to heart: when you can do something, just do it and make a difference in someone’s day and life.

  6. And in a world where all servers
    lean down, touch you and use your
    personal name? False friendliness
    is offensive to many. IT is already
    glaringly obvious when servers
    linger after presenting the bill,
    wishing you a glorious evening –
    that research is now widely known.
    We prefer suthentic surliness!

    sign me,
    Big Tipper

  7. Dan (aka)Sir….

    Thank you for this week’s RFL….I will definitely post this week’s article on the billboard at MY Weekend waitress job. As a waitress for over 14 years, I do know that the personal communication and interaction in a non-offensive way does increase your tips and make you guest experience more pleasurable. During these difficult economic times, it is nice to go out for dinner with family and friends just for a little r&r and laughter; when you have a waitress/waiter who is disgruntled, non-friendly, and down right rude that server can and will effect the mood of the guest dining experience. At the restaurant I work at for over the last three years has seen a steady decline in business and yes, guest are tipping less than normal. However, as a server, I will not lower my standard of quality of service guest I provide. While the tips may have declined over the recent months, guests are still tipping. As server by profession, I have to remind myself that no matter how big or small the tips are I am still appreciative that my guest chose to dine with our establishment at all.

  8. Another way to do this kind of research without an internet connected computer is to call (or IM) your local library’s reference desk. Our expert searchers will find answers to your questions or get you several pertinent articles.

    You might have to pay for the photocopying, or we could email the links directly to you – you might not even have to set foot in the building.

    That’s one way libraries can serve those who serve! We’re here to help, so please use us!! Thanks!

  9. Professor Wynn offers great advice on tipping. Let me share with you an experience. I love corned beef. I went to a famous corned beef restaurant on Orchard Lake Road in Farmington Hills or West Bloomfield, Michigan. I will pay for good corned beef. The sandwich that I had was the fat of the corned beef and it was terrible. The French onion soup was also terrible. I will never go to this place again and I will never recommend this place. Leave a tip? I think not.

    There are many factors in leaving a tip.

    My wife is an excellent cook and I mean excellent. I take her out to lunch or dinner in order to give her a break from cooking a meal. Even though she is tired of cooking, she has said to me that it is better for us to eat at home. My wife is also very wise.

  10. Most people are not aware that the State of Michigan as well as the Federal Government assess wait staff for a % of tips whether they get them or not. If the service is bad; it is probably bad training, bad leadership or bad process(just like state government).
    When was the last time any of you tipped a state or federal worker? No not by cash but by writing a letter to their leaders or business owner. I frequently ask the manager to come over when I am dining to complement the worker to the boss.

  11. I think this is a very good point – something that I will think about in my work. I know that this blog is not really about tipping, but it made me think of a This American Life radio show episode in which they did an informal study of a waitress’ tips when she was being “nice” or “mean.”

    I’m sure Professor Wynn’s approach is more scientific, but the concept of tipping is complicated as some of the previous comments have described. Sometimes doing the best job possible provides less immediate monetary gains than improvement in personal satisfaction. We spend so much of our time at work, it’s nice to feel good about what we are doing.

    Thanks for the RFL!
    Evan

  12. I think this is a very good point – something that I will think about in my work. I know that this blog is not really about tipping, but it made me think of a This American Life radio show episode in which they did an informal study of a waitress’ tips when she was being “nice” or “mean.”

    This American Life

    I’m sure Professor Wynn’s approach is more scientific, but the concept of tipping is complicated as some of the previous comments have described. Sometimes doing the best job possible provides less immediate monetary gains than improvement in personal satisfaction. We spend so much of our time at work, it’s nice to feel good about what we are doing.

    Thanks for the RFL!
    Evan

  13. The point about using Google or at a higher level, searching and researching your core business/service is what I saw as the crux of your message here Dan and it is a great one.

    I need constant reminding in my role as a leader to have as part of my focus to consistently ask myself if we are doing things in an optimal way or in a way that best serves our clients. It benefits the client and of course ensures our business remains viable and we don’t get left behind! 😉

    I find it interesting to note what the study on tipping revealed and indeed the responses it has evoked. For me it mentioned some general concepts linked with specific measures that could be learned as tools to connect with customers. I understood from the wording that there are many techniques with which you can connect with customers that could be used depending on the situation.

    One example is the ‘touching’ one. The wording used by the waitress was:
    “a study I once read that said servers who find a way to physically touch their customers get higher tips.” The key words here were ‘find a way’ which is crucial to the whole thing and to not having the ‘touching’ come across as inappropriate or offensive. ‘Finding a way’ to me indicated that over the course of the evening through your service, you would seek to build a connection with your customers to the point where it would feel appropriate that some sort of touch would be received as a respectful gesture of service as opposed to the offence some have alluded to.

    I guess such a technique and it’s application seems to me to highlight the fact that in all our roles, there are a great variety of tools and skills that we can constantly research and learn about that in any given situations we may call upon one or two to maximise and customise our service to our customers based on their personalities – one size certainly does not fit all where people are concerned because what do we hear all the time?… “We are all unique”. Those who master the art of interpreting people and which techniques will work with them will truly build a great client base and learn to…

    Serve with their best self!

    Great message thanks Dan.

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