This article will cover whether or not restaurants are using mental tactics to try and get people to eat more and spend more. The answer to this is both yes and no, but we will explain in more detail as we go along to why it is yes, and why it is no.
The “no” answer.
First we will start with the “no” answer. It is easy for conspiracies to rise and thrive when the people listening to them haven’t been on the other side. So, we will start with an answer to this question by looking at someone else’s answer in response to the question. It was quite long, which included dialog of their experiences as a customer when ordering from various restaurants. We will cut it short to save time, but basically the dialog made it seem as if the employees of the restaurant itself were all in on it too on this whole psychological game to make their guests spend more money and eat more food.
This is simply too farfetched to believe, yet it is believable if the story sounds good enough. The employees of a restaurant do not care if their guests order food or not, eat more or not, or even come to their restaurant. They just want to do their job with the least stress as possible, get paid, and go home. That is pretty much it for majority of the employees at most restaurants. Most of the employees don’t even have a clue what the current financial situation their restaurant is in.
We know this because we have worked at many different restaurants. The employees are not trained salesmen or master psychologists, unless they happen to go to school for that before they started working at the restaraunt. There is no requirement from restaurants for an employee to be one in order to get a job working at one. Neither are they asked any questions in interviews related to these things, unless the restaurant wants to hire them for a job that has them working for the restaurant, but not in the actual restaurant itself, with yhings related to it.
It is absurd to think that the casual employee taking your order at a restaurant is trying to use psychological tactics to get you to spend more money and eat more, as doing so would not benefit them in the short term, but only the company. Even if an individual runs into an employee at a restaurant that asks them if they would like “extras” with what ever they ordered, they are asking these things because they were told to ask these things by the higher-ups.
Most employees at restaurants that take their guests orders try to avoid asking their customers if they want to buy anything else with their food or drinks, because, as we said, they just want to get the order done with, get their pay check, and also move on to the next person. This doesn’t mean that some employees don’t want to stop and talk to their guests sometimes, but it usually isn’t to get their guests to order more and eat more (unless they have been told to do so for this reason by superiors). They genuinely just want to talk.
Of course, there is an exception somewhat to this, which is where the waiter/waitress (and some cashiers) come in. They may be sweet talking their guests to try and get a bigger tip, but they also aren’t going to try to psychologically try and manipulate their guests into buying more food; even on these terms. If they offer anything extra to their guests besides what they ordered, it is done usually in an attempt to try and get on the guests’ good side so that they can get a bigger tip. They are offering extras to ensure that their guests are having the best experience as possible when eating/drinking their food or drinks.
For example, they would let a guest that really loves the toast at their restaurant know that they can order the toast with butter on both sides, which most guests would do, because they happen to love the toast too. This actually happened at a restaurant, in which the customer didn’t care if it costed more money, because they really liked the toast. But just for the record, it did not cost extra at this restaurant to get butter on both sides of the toast. This is a great real example of how the employees of a restaurant aren’t in on this so called physiological manipulation.
Things like this happen all the time at restaurants. Some employees do these things for their own personal gain for tips, while others do it just to develop a good honest relationship with their guests for their own personal reasons. Others do it, because they are trying to look good in the higher-ups’ eyes, hoping for a raise or a promotion in the future. They are just trying to help the guest have a great dining experience.
It is not uncommon for an employee to start offering extra food items, add-ons, desserts, and drinks to their guests whenever the corporate or owners of the restaurant visits their establishment. They may be pressured to do these things to appear worthy in their eyes of moving up in the employment ladder later on.
Shift managers, assistant managers, and the general managers of a restaurant are more inclined to psychologically try to get their guests to spend more money and eat more. They are the ones that are usually getting a bonus of some kind, every quarter or yearly to even care to do so. Their bonuses do have a connection with their sales yearly.
Even then, sometimes it is only the general manager and the assistant manager that are getting these bonuses, so only they will push everyone else in the restaurant to do these tactics. Most of them are not ambitious enough to constantly try and make their subordinates use these psychological tactics everyday on their customers. They will seldomly just mentioned that their employees should do it, but will try to drill it in to their newer employees until they settle in with the rest of the crew.
The “yes” answer.
Now for the “yes” answer to the question. It is obvious that there is still some kind of psychological tactic or manipulation in play with restaurants that do try and get people to eat more and spend more. We will answer this from an actual event that we saw happening at a restaurant that we worked for.
Basically, work continued as it did usually at the restaraunt for us, until the owner decided to visit the restaurant. It was a hot day that day, so we were hoping that we wouldn’t have to send an employee outside dressed up as a mascot in a hot restaraunt suit to advertise for the company. Luckily, that wasn’t the case that day, but he had other business with someone else that the corporate had hired for some psychological manipulation outside of the company.
It was a big day for the higher-ups of the restaurant, as they were now moving on to a whole new level of advertising, besides the restaurant mascot on the street corner.
Basically, the owner wanted us to make the usual meal that we made (one of them from the main menu). He let us make the order, but actually stepped in at a certain point to finish the rest himself. He was trying to make the food look more appealing, as we later found out that it was for an advertisement. The guy that the restaurant had hired was there to take pictures of the meal.
When he stepped in to finish the order, he added more cheese than the usual (it was a lot of cheese) and he purposely undercooked the food to make it look better with the extra melted cheese. We personally didn’t think it looked that appealing, but then again, we weren’t professional advertisers, salesmen, or photographers either. The owner left the store with the meal and the guy he hired, and that was the end of it.
As time went along, shortly after, we started seeing a lot of advertisements on television about the restaurant a lot more often.
Visual psychological manipulation is one of the most common ways that restaurants use the visuals of their food to entice people to buy their food when they are hungry. Professionals are sometimes even paid to take pictures of their food items that later appear as selections on their menus.
Presentation is one of the important “P’s” of the restaurant, which involves food placement on a plate, or in a carry out container, to make the food look appetizing to eat for their guests. Some chefs spend much time practicing this to perfect it. Corporations of restaurants are also spending a lot of money and time hiring professionals to do this for their food for their main menus seen in the restaurant, through television, and by other means.
These things are not illegal for a restaurant to do, neither are they considered to be misleading to the point that legal action should be taken. It is ultimately the customers choice in the end to go the restaurant and eat and pay for the food.
Some restaurants actually have to use some of these tactics (some to a lesser degree) just to keep their business afloat. They may have to encourage their employees to dance in a chicken suit, go out and place “sweet deals” on windshields, offer extras with their meals for their guests, mention surveys, or do other things, just to make sure that they get some business for the day. It depends on the restaurant’s geographical location and their local/national popularity.