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Red + Gift = Higher Waitress Tips

Do you or your employees depend at least in part on tip income?

As a prospective or current small business owner you should know about the “Rule of Reciprocity,” and the effect of waitresses wearing the color red.  Both work seperately to increase the amount of a tip that customers leave.

First, the Rule of Reciprocity:  What is this rule?  Well, it works like this:  if someone gives you something, you feel obligated to give something in return, right?  Research by sociologists find this rule operating in every society on Earth.
"If someone gives something to us, we feel obligated to repay that debt. This rule operates not only with people you know, but also with strangers.”

- Steve Martin, co-author of “Yes!: 50 secrets from the science of persuasion”


 
Yes!: 50 Secrets From the Science of Persuasion
by Professor Robert B. Cialdini
Powells.com
 
Here’s how reciprocity works for a business.  Behavioral scientist David Strohmetz found that including a couple of free mints with diners’ bills increased tips - every time. 
  •  If you include a mint when you present your customer with the bill – with no personal expression of thanks – this alone increases tips an average of 3.4% 
  • If you look the customer in the face, smile, and say “this is for you”, the average tip increases by almost 20%.  You can also say something like “this is our way of saying thanks for coming in,” or “thanks for your business,” or something similar – as long as it personally recognizes the customer.
If you own a business whose employees rely on tips, this is a simple yet effective way you can help them increase their incomes.

So your business doesn’t rely on tip income?  Reciprocity still applies. 

Let’s say you’re a mechanic and after you do an oil change for a customer, you give them a small calendar or other gift when they pick up their car.  You’ve just created a sense of obligation in this customer, increasing the odds that they’ll come back in the future

Perhaps you’re in a service business.  Reciprocity can work for you.  I started my career at a small ad agency whose owner would rebate a small part of a client’s final payment for a project.  He’d write a check made out to the business for $50 or $100 (on a project costing many thousands of dollars) and send it to his  contact at the client firm with a note saying that he discovered that the client had overpaid slightly, and here was the amount of their overpayment.  This creates a sense of obligation in the project manager just as does giving a diner a mint with a personal thank you.
 
Note to Waitresses: Wearing Red Can Be Profitable
According to a new study published in a recent issue of Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research , male restaurant customers give higher tips to waitresses wearing red.
 
In their study of 272 restaurant customers, researchers Nicolas Guéguen and Céline Jacob found not only that male patrons gave higher tips than female patrons in general, but that men gave between 14.6% and 26.1% more to waitresses wearing red, while color had no effect on female patrons' tipping behavior at all. The researchers explained that previous research has found that red increases the physical and sexual attractiveness of women.

Guéguen and Jacob instructed eleven waitresses in five restaurants to wear the same tee shirt in different colors (black, white, red, blue, green, and yellow) on different days over a six-week period. The waitresses were instructed to act as they normally would to all customers and to record how much they received as a tip from each customer.

The author wrote, "As red color has no negative effect on women customers, it could be in their interest to wear red clothes at work."

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The Entrepreneur's Bookshelf ~
The more you know about small business management and financing before you start, the more likely you are to succeed.  That's why I urge anyone thinking of starting a business to contact their local Small Business Development Center or Community College.  I have also organized this bookshelf for you at Powell's Books, the world's largest single site new and used bookstore, featuring the latest books on small business start-ups, marketing, and small business money management.   
A Selection Related to this Post:


Click on this link to see all the selections on ~

 
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Story sources:
 
Yes!: 50 Secrets From the Science of Persuasion, By Noah Goldstein, Professor Robert B. Cialdini, & Steve Martin, Profile Books, Ltd., London, copyright 2007 Noah J. Goldstein, Steve J. Martin and Robert B. Cialdini.
 
N. Gueguen, C. Jacob. Clothing Color and Tipping: Gentlemen Patrons Give More Tips to Waitresses With Red Clothes. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Research, 2012.

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