Cooking School Secrets: Subtle Manipulation

Keep New Times Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Phoenix and help keep the future of New Times free.

I love gaining insight into someone else's life, particularly when I get a chance to understand the nuances of their jobs or relationships (5+ decades old and I'm still trying to make sense of the world.) Working as a restaurant host and server for a few weeks offered up a few revelations that only an insider would ordinarily know.

Most disturbing concept? The guests are our lab rats. (Maybe - hopefully - that's just because we are a school-based restaurant.)

Easiest way to make a good impression? Say hello. (Not being greeted immediately is the #1 complaint people have about restaurant service.)

My favorite? Use the alpha personality to your advantage. Let me explain. The greatest profit margin in restaurants comes from alcohol and coffee/tea, so finding a way to influence guests to order more than entrees is essential. This is easiest to do if you can quickly identify the alpha personality at each table...because, typically, as goes the alpha, so go the others.

Here's how it's done. Alphas make reservations...so find out who matches with the name in the book. If there's no reservation, the host can generally figure it out by lead the guests to the table and pulling out seat #1. (Tables and chairs are numbered to help identify who ordered what and to enable other servers to step in if necessary.) The alpha will make his or her way to that chair.

Of course, "ladies first" can wreak havoc with this approach, so it works best with all male or all female groups. With mixed groups, you can pretty much count on the fact that alphas will tell the others where to sit.

Once you've identified the alpha, you are ready to influence the group's most influential member. So sell, sell, sell.

Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.


Join the New Times community and help support independent local journalism in Phoenix.