A couple arrive at a restaurant. They are told there is 15-minute wait and are offered a spot at the bar while they wait. They decide that they are ok with a 15 minute wait, but as they head towards the bar, they start to look a little surprised. The path towards the bar is lined with unoccupied tables. Some had reserved signs, most did not. After a few more paces, they turn around and return to the front desk. They comment about the empty tables and ask if they could be seated at one of them. The waitress says “oh, we are not serving those tables today”. They try again, asking for a reason but get the same response. Flabbergasted, they look at each other, obviously changing their minds about eating at that restaurant and walk out, unlikely to ever return.
Why did they leave?
They realised that the 15-minute wait was not genuine. It seemed like a ploy to get them to the bar to spend more money. The restaurant did not appear to be under-staffed that evening. Three waitresses were hanging around the front desk, idle. Unless there was something wrong in the kitchen and they had to pace the orders, there seemed to be no other rational explanation. “We are not serving those tables today” just wasn’t good enough.
The “sit at the bar” strategy is a common one, but this is one scenario where it went wrong. The empty tables were too obvious. The explanation the waitress gave did not make sense.
When you employ any strategy to get your customers to buy more, take the time to put yourself in their shoes for a moment and consider what it might be like from their point of view. If you are not careful, the cost of short term gain could end up being long term damage!