Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What a good waiter can tell us about writing a winning proposal

What can waiters tell us about persuasion? Well, how often has you tip altered depending on the quality of service? How often has your order changed depending on the recommendations of the waiter? And was you judgement about repeat business affected by the person who was your primary contact?

Successful food servers are not just good at increasing the size of their tips - they also improve the revenue for the restaurant by providing a service that is firstly good quality and personable (making people come back again) but by also making recommendations on what people should eat and drink - ever paid more than you intended for that bottle of wine because the waiter recommended it? Research also shows that repeating customer orders back increases tip size...as does how you give people sweets at the end of the meal. I'll be looking at that in my next book review "Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion".

Bad service drives me crazy in a restaurant. And I have no idea why restaurant owners put up with it - I'm sure that the main reason people don't return to restaurants is poor service. What's that got to do with proposals?

Well, look at your proposal as if it were a meal and the client was the diner...stay with me here...would you return to the restaurant? Or put it this way, does your proposal look after the client? Are they going to feel that even though you have recommended something expensive, perhaps even more expensive than they had intended paying, that it was worth it? Does your proposal give them a positive experience and value for money?

Or does it give them indigestion and make them feel as if they never want to eat there again?

How about repeating an order back? Tips increase, which shows greater customer satisfaction. Look at your proposals and be sure that you have accurately reflected the client requirement. Does anything annoy your more than receiving the wrong order because the waiter wasn't paying attention? No. So don't propose a solution that doesn't meet the client's requirement.

Feel free to recommend something better. They value your expertise in this area and want your opinion. And bear in mind, that a more expensive "five star" option makes a less expensive "standard" solution look more affordable...the restaurant knows this by putting all those expensive wines and champagnes on the wine list...all of a sudden you think that £30 for a bottle of wine isn't so bad after all.

People reward good experiences and avoid returning to places they have had a bad one. Make sure your proposal reflects our client's needs and concerns and makes recommendations for a solution. Go on and provide good service and they will want to come back.

There are lots of successful businesses out there that operate in different spheres and ways than yours or mine. But shouldn't be able to look at what makes them successful and integrate some of those features in our business to help us succeed?

Why not try it? Otherwise you may be heading the same way as that dodgy restaurant that you ate at last week.