Advanced Jedi Menu Tricks: Brainwash Your Guests and Team On Your Menu

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It’s tough out there. More restaurants and bars open every year, making being unique a challenge. If you read my last post about how to shake up your menu design to give your sales a kick in the butt, you now might be asking, “What’s next?”

Read this: How to Create a Menu that Rakes in Profits

Glad you asked. Now it’s time to apply some real Jedi Mind Tricks to get everyone on board to maximize that nice, fresh menu design you created.

Key #1: Manage Your Energy

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There are some universal laws that must be obeyed. The first is that everything is energy. Everything. Even you. You are really a bundle of energy that appears in human form. Some quantum physicists would go as far as saying you’re an energy field existing in a larger energy field. That being said, know that energy is transferable. Energy is transferred whenever you interact with another person. Sometimes it’s positive and other times negative.

Managing your energy to stay in the positive range is no easy task. There is a lot of negativity out there and it’s almost like you need to walk around with a protective force field to guard against it. When you want to have influence on another human being your energy level needs to be higher than the person you are trying to influence. How much? Just about one to two levels higher. If your energy is too far above theirs you will come across as being “too much.”

It starts with self-awareness. Where is your energy level right now on a scale from 1-10 (10 being supercharged)? When you approach a guest, try to get a read on their energy level. Then, raise your energy to one level above theirs. Now you will have the power to influence their buying process.

Key #2: Make Sincere Recommendations

Menu choices and deciding on what to order can create anxiety in your guests. Offering many choices can be a bad thing sometimes. People don’t want to make the wrong decision, so we tend to make the safe decision. That leads to stagnant sales.

You break free from this trap by making honest and sincere recommendations to help alleviate the pressure to decide. That requires you knowing two things:

  1. Your favorite item on the menu in each category.
  2. The most popular item in each category. 

Personal recommendations are the stuff marketing gurus preach. Everyone trusts the inside tip from a friend. Facebook is filled with people asking their friends for recommendations. Tap into that need by offering up suggestions of items on the menu that you truly like. Now, it must be authentic or people will see right through your attempt to persuade them. Sincerity is paramount!

Telling them about the most popular items goes to social proof. We like the reassurance that others like it as well. Why do we buy toothpaste that 4 out of 5 dentists recommend? Social proof. Honestly, if you think about it, you have no clue who those dentists are! We gravitate towards social proof like a security blanket: it feels good even if it offers very little real security.

Key #3: Back It with Body Language 

Seven-38-55. In communication you should understand that words alone only make up 7% of how we communicate. 38% is the tone of voice, and a whopping 55% is non-verbal. It really is not what you say, but how you say it. Your body language speaks volumes for reinforcing the words you choose.

You say that the calamari is your favorite, yet your jaw tightens when you say it. They ask about what bourbon you recommend and you look away while offering the highest-priced one on the list. You might think you’re being clever, but your body is saying something totally different than the words coming from your mouth.

Speak with authenticity and congruency in your body language. When your words and your non-verbals are aligned you will have influence on the items your guests buy.

Key #4: Focus on Hospitality 

Here’s the real trick: Don’t go for the big sales, go for the right sales! Better to make recommendations that will enhance the guest experience then to rack up a big check. People really do know when you’re being manipulative rather than helpful. Make suggestions that fit the guest and come from the spirit of hospitality.

The word hospitality comes from the Latin hospes, which came from the word hostis, which originally meant "to have power." The words hospital, hospice, and hostel also come from the word "hospitality." It’s all about giving personal care to people who are away from their homes. Hospitality is about being a host to your guest in your establishment.

Being a host is being committed to serving others. Many working in restaurants and bars have forgotten that. Stop trying to raise the check and instead focus on raising your level of hospitality. Do that and you’ll see that the sales follow. The bonus is that sales will consistently increase as your level of hospitality increases.