Selling Comfort

I used to serve tables at the Macaroni Grill. One evening my manager called me into his office and I was pretty sure I was in trouble. He had a very serious tone and asked, “Aaron, what are you doing?”. Still thinking I was in trouble I asked him what I did wrong… He laughed and said “No, you are not in trouble, I want to know what are you doing to sell so much food per person”. Apparently I had the highest per person sales number of all the servers. Relieved from the fact I was not in trouble, and feeling suddenly cocky I answered, “I don’t sell food, I sell comfort”.

The managers were always reminding us to up-sell, be sure to offer appetizers, and special drinks, and don’t forget to offer desserts… Sell, sell, sell.

I almost never did any of these things. Instead, I simply focused on making customers comfortable. I was super sensitive to their need for privacy, desire for company, or hope for entertainment. Sometimes remaining quiet/distant, friendly/talkative, or cracking jokes like “this diet coke is an excellent 82, full bodied with a bright finish”.

Monetization is tough. It is very easy to slip into a gimmicky up-sell mentality. Instead, focus on making customers comfortable.

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