Effectiveness of Non Cash Rewards

June 11, 2012

I’ve been in Orlando this week doing client work as well as watching people building their arks in case this torrential rain keeps up.  Today at lunch I went to the local affiliate one of the national chicken wing restaurants.  At the end of the lunch my waitress ashamedly and without making eye contact asked if I would like to buy on of their bottles of wing sauce to take home.  I declined as I could see the bottles on the counter and they weren’t going to fit into the TSA rules for carry on liquids.  But I did ask what was in it for her.  She did her part by providing excellent customer service throughout the meal and then asked for the sale so if it was a $1 SPIF I’d be happy to add that to the tip for her efforts.  She told me that the waitress that sells the most sauce in a week gets first pick of shifts and sections.  I asked if some sections were better than others and she told me that yes they were and pointed out the most choice sections.  As I thought about the incentive that the company had put together I was impressed by the ability to take something inexpensive to them and use it to motivate a desired behavior, i.e. sell the high-margin add-on sale.  A secondary effect is that the people best at sales get the prime shifts and locations – which is exactly what is going to drive the most revenue overall for the restaurant.

A variety of industries use similar metrics to allow the best sales folks to cherry pick the best opportunities and I think for the most part it’s a good idea if designed and executed properly.  You are getting your top people aligned with the best prospects and in the long run the poor performers are easily identified and can be re-trained and coached or ultimately self-select themselves out of a job.  In the example above was the plan optimally rolled out?  Not really, this young lady who had done a great job pushing appetizers and drinks failed when it came to the add-on sale at the end.  For example, it would have been a much easier sale with eye contact and getting to me say yes to the fact that I had tremendously enjoyed the sauce, would I get the same sauce next time or try a different one and then finally ask for how many bottles would I like to add to my order for $4.99 (less expensive than the grocery store) price.

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