Excerpt from book:
You Sell One Thing: Reactions
People expect a certain reaction from a business, and when you pleasantly exceed those expectations, you’ve somehow passed an important psychological threshold.
—Richard Thalheimer, founder, Sharper Image
My wife, Nicole, and I were staying at a big-brand hotel for a couple of days while I was on the road shooting Bar Rescue.
I’m laughing at myself as I write this, but I did nothing but complain from the moment I arrived. Our room was the size of a postage stamp, while the bed was too high off the ground, all of which left me feeling like an awkward giant. It was obvious that the flaccid bacon on my dinnertime sandwich had been cooked the previous morning. And why were the knife and fork the size of airline flatware? Even though I’m a positive person, it’s very easy for little disappointments to bum me out. Nowadays, it’s hard not to automatically home in on low hospitality standards. It’s frustrating because everything I see is easily preventable. I have to force myself to blow these annoyances off—otherwise, I’d never be able to enjoy a dinner, or just about anything I do in my life.
Admittedly, I am a bit cocky when it comes to guest standards, but not without justification: I have more than thirty-five years of experience working in every aspect of the hospitality business. I know
hotels, restaurants, bars, dives, burger joints, and nightclubs are capable of best-of-class excellence. I wasn’t always this sensitive—standards didn’t make it onto my radar until I was a few years into the business. I’ll never forget walking through a major hotel with the vice president of product development for Hyatt International, Frank C. Ansel III. Youthful exuberance made me come off like a big shot even though I was nothing of the sort. We were holding a management and entrepreneurship seminar for the company’s East Asia employees. The food and beverage director of the hotel knew we were coming, so he had spruced up the place. Everything at the hotel looked amazing to me, but twenty minutes into the walkthrough, Frank looked at his manager with obvious displeasure. I asked Frank why he was upset.
“You think he’s doing things well because you look but you don’t see,” Frank said. He pulled me over to a table and pointed out that the service plates weren’t turned the same way, nor was the flatware placed consistently at each setting. Frank nodded toward a waiter who was pouring out of the side of a pitcher instead of the spout—a real no-no in table service. These are subtle things, but they demonstrated a lack of standards and attention to detail. When “little” things are off, it means more important standards are also probably lacking. That line, “You look but you don’t see,” has stayed with me ever since. After that day, I have never been able to walk past a dirty carpet or a cracked wall without reacting. I notice everything. Businesses are defined by their details. Now, when I look, I see.
Think about this: Two people get dressed in the morning. One person throws on whatever clothes are available; the other takes the time to select an outfit and make sure it’s clean, pressed, and put together. Who makes the better impression? The carefully dressed person is thought of as calmer, more powerful, smarter, and more thoughtful than the sloppy one. In an experiment to test perceptions and appearance, teaching assistants who wore formal clothes were perceived as more intelligent than those who dressed more casually. A Harvard study found that women who wore makeup were considered more competent and likable than their barefaced counterparts. (I love this kind of
Introduction: Open for Business 1
1. You Sell One Thing: Reactions 9
2. You as a Reaction Manipulator 24
3. Money Is in Reactions, Not Transactions 48
4. Employees, the Engine of Reaction Management 69
5. Four-Walls Marketing 95
6. Interior Works 129
7. Visibility Is Money 160
8. The Revenue Response 180
9. Innovation and the Risk of Wrong Reactions 208
Conclusion: Last Call 221
Appendix: Creating the Perfect Menu 225