I’ve never been to Mexico until two weeks ago. I noticed something peculiar about the restaurants we ate at. They always gave you something to start with. Be it bread, oil, and vinegar, or nachos and salsa or chips and guacamole. We rarely ate a meal where we we’re “given” something to start with. I’m a foody, a fatty at heart, I LOVE that stuff! Making people happy through food, I love it.
Even breakfast at our hotel they would give you toast to start. It was like every place knew how to treat people and they new how to make your experience just a little bit better. I don’t like great service, I LOVE great service!
It got me thinking about restaurants here in Regina and Saskatchewan. When’s the last time someone gave you something free before you ordered? Before they knew if you’d order two full meals from the entre section, not just the sandwich section of the menu (don’t you hate it when restaurants segregate menu items that way…oh you can have a salad to start, if you buy the $35 meal!!).
Reciprocity is one of the most powerful psychological forces in our world.
Robert Cialdini wrote the classic Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, in it he introduces one of the six forces; reciprocity. It’s doing good for others expecting nothing in return. It’s going out of your way to help others knowing that you may not receive anything in return. What he offers though, in return for reciprocity is the feeling you get for helping someone as well as a hidden psychological motive. When someone has something nice done for them, they tend to want to reciprocate.
In business this is very powerful. You have a vested interest in helping the people around you, you never know when or how they will repay you, but most likely they will feel compelled to!
Why don’t more restaurants (and other businesses) in Regina give something away for free before you make a purchase? Costco gets it and personally I like to give everyone who comes to our office something, whether that be a lottery ticket, sticker, magnet, card, sandwich, anything! I just don’t want people to leave empty handed.
I heard years ago when Scotty Bowman was coaching the Detroit Redwings, when anyone would visit him in his office he’d give them a signed card of himself! Talk about getting known for something cool! (I LOVED hockey cards as a kid, this would have been a dream come true. And turns out those cards are now worth a pretty penny to hockey card collectors).
I know the obvious argument against the “give something away free” mentality is it costs money and some people take your free sample and walk away without buying. Sure, they will always be cheap people out there who want to take advantage of you, but there are also people who love you for doing something for them for free like starting you off with nachos. Those people who appreciate those small acts tell other people and your idea (and company) spread like wild fire in a gasoline plant.
So what’s it going to be? How are you going to use reciprocity? What are you going to give away for free?
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Peace be da journey.