Over the last year or so, I’ve consistently gotten free food, great service, and excellent discounts from restaurants. More important, I don’t have to jump through any hoops, sign up for a crazy feedback program, or even go out of my way to do it. Although I am special (I know ’cause my mommy told me so), I’m not so special that you can’t get in on the gig, too.
Be the Customer They’ll Remember
The cardinal rule here is simply to be as personable, cordial, and informal as possible. Frankly, I think that last one is probably the most important piece of the pie, simply because it will help to set you apart from other customers at whatever establishment you’re patronizing. For those working in the mind-numbing service industry, the things that get remembered are the anomalies. And you, my friend, want to be an anomaly if you ever want to get the hookup.
For some reason, we Americans have this weird way of interacting when a professional or commercial barrier is placed between us. Suddenly, we become more formal, less friendly, and downright less human than we normally are. I think this is silly! When you’re ordering at a restaurant, the bottom line is that you’re one human talking to another human, and together, the two of you are trying to accomplish something. All too often, I see people trying to place an order with an abject formality that simply makes me want to puke. I sure as hell don’t want to be that formal in a one-to-one interaction, and based on my personal observations, the guys and gals at your favorite lunchtime joint don’t care to deal with that kind of formality either.
The next time you’re in a restaurant, check out the behavior of your hostess and your waiter/waitress. Occasionally, you’ll get a really good actor who knows how to break down your defenses (and these are the people who you’ll tip well), but most of the time, if you want great service, you’re going to have to break down their defenses. After all, how many people do you think enter a restaurant with the mentality, “I’m going to make friends with my waiter today?” The truth of the matter is that this is exactly the mentality you should adopt if you want to capitalize on great service, discounts, and even free stuff!
I stumbled into all of this because I really abhor social formalities. Not only do they make me uncomfortable, but it’s also weird to me that people seem to behave so differently in a semi-professional, social context. Whenever I’m out dealing with someone in the service industry, I chat them up and joke with them constantly. There’s some solid reasoning behind this, though, and I think anyone could use it to their advantage:
- You’re more likely to give a discount to someone who is your friend.
- If this is a restaurant that you frequently visit, don’t you want to be friendly with the staff in order to ensure great service on every trip?
- Familiarity plays strongly on the human psyche. Be friendly. Be familiar. Be the customer they’ll remember, and they’ll treat you like a king!
Finally, breaking down these odd social barriers is a key ingredient to successful human interaction. Whether you’re ordering dinner, buying a TV, or even closing a sale, you’ll win every time if you’re the most friendly, most approachable person.