Here’s a novel idea to make more money: Give things away. I know I’ve talked before about getting more customers with free samples of food, but now I’m going to suggest that you actually let go of your restaurant or bar’s life blood. I want you to give away your recipes. Read more to learn why holding tightly on to your recipes may be hurting your business.
The Fear About Sharing Recipes
Yes, I actually do know that you’re arguing with me right now. I can hear you. You have a good point too. “Recipes are my number one secret!” you’re saying. “If I give them away, why would people come into my restaurant (or bar)?” This is a reasonable fear to have. After all, we’re all cooks here: I know that it’s not that hard to cook something, and that your ingredients are probably the same things that your customers have in their kitchens.
If you give them your recipes, won’t they make your (your!) deeply considered specialties in their own homes?
Doesn’t that mean they’ll never come back?
The short answers: No, and, um, no.
Here’s the secret that you’ve known all along about your restaurant: It’s not the ingredients or a recipe that brings your customers in, it’s your restaurant or bar’s ambiance, customer service, personality, and yes, the way you prepare your specialities, too. Therefore, even if you release one (or a few) of your recipes to the public, they’ll still come back. You’ll still have the waitstaff your guests have come to love, and you’ll still have the pampering that your guests have come to expect.
Here’s the other big secret that you’ve known all along: Most people are shockingly terrible cooks. They usually know this about themselves, so though they may cut that recipe out of the newspaper, or perhaps buy your cookbook, their likelihood of ever following the recipe is pretty low.
The point is that you gave them something for free.
Why Your Customers Want Your Recipes
This begs the question: If your customers know that they’re terrible cooks, why do they want your recipes?
Truthfully, it’s the idea that they care about. Whether they’ve gone to your restaurant many times, or for many years, they’ve paid you a lot of money for what you have to offer. Although they clearly think your restaurant or bar has a high value, they certainly won’t scoff at a free gift.
And your recipe is just that. It’s a free gift to your loyal patrons—it’s like giving them a free meal.
Why Sharing Recipes Is Good for Business
So then, why is giving them that free meal so good for your business?
1. They still feel bound by the Law of Reciprocity, the psychological law determining that people are hardwired to feel like they owe you something for a free “gift,” even when you give them something they didn’t ask for.
2. It’s a sign of goodwill to your loyal customers.
3. Recipes generate buzz—and more word of mouth advertising certainly can’t hurt.
4. Even though they probably won’t actually make anything with your recipe, they’ll cut it out and keep it… and every time they open their recipe book, they’ll be reminded of your restaurant.
To Sum Up
In the end, sharing recipes is not as scary as many restaurant or bar owners think it is. After all, your customers usually care more about your overall dining experience than about your food or drinks. Even if your victuals and libations are unique and fascinating (in fact, especially if they’re unique and fascinating), your guests are unlikely to actually make something with your recipe. Instead, every time they cook their same favorites, they’ll see your recipe tucked into their recipe book—and they’ll be reminded all over again about how much they love your place.
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