The Halo Effect

T.J. Schier

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Apple, airlines such as Southwest and American, and many other companies have leveraged the “halo effect” into business success. The halo effect is simply forming an overall positive impression of something because of one good characteristic. For example, an applicant arrives for an interview and creates a great first impression. The interviewing manager then disregards the yellow flags during the conversation and hires the person, only to see them leave shortly thereafter. The manager’s perception was solely based on the one good trait.

In the case of Apple, the iPod has introduced so many users to its brand that sales of their PCs have increased quite dramatically. Southwest Airlines, because of the great service they deliver, also gets credit for being less expensive and having a better on-time record. Last I checked, my flight from Dallas to Baltimore was $198 on Southwest Airlines as well as on American Airlines—and in February 2005, American Airlines was on-time nearly 5 percent more often. Hmmm…

What does that have to do with running a great restaurant? Simple. Great service is the “halo” that makes everything appear to be better in the eyes of the guest. Food tastes better when the people are friendlier. The wait in line or at the drive-thru window seems shorter when the cashier is talking with you.

Prior to your next shift, focus the staff on a few key behaviors such as smiling and warmly greeting guests as they arrive and then talking with them if there is a lull such as when customers wait for their food. Spend your time out in the dining room and listen to the guest comments or solicit some responses from them. You’ll hear many positive things thanks to the feeling you provided to the guest.

Finally, suggestive selling, if done in the proper way, can also have a halo effect on your price-value. Sell the benefits or savings to the guest and they will perceive you as being less expensive. For example, if a guest orders a combo meal, don’t ask “Would you like to upsize it for 50 cents more?” The guest hears “Spend more money. ” Instead ask, “The best value is the large combo or you can save 50 cents and get the regular size—which would you like?” Not only will this approach lead to higher sales, the guest will hear “save” and feel as though they have saved money.

Spend more but feel like you’re saving…now that’s a halo effect we should all strive for.

T. J. Schier is service professional, consultant and speaker with over 20 years experience in operations and training. Founder and president of Incentivize Solutions and podTraining, T. J. has helped numerous clients enhance their service and training programs and spoken to tens of thousands of managers, franchisees and operators in various fields. Visit for more info motivating today's employees, training today's generation and delivering outstanding guest service; or , a unique new system and the foundation of ‘i-learning’ - using the device of today's generation, the iPod - to train your workforce.


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