Double your Tips
How to build instant connection through the power of touch
Several years ago I was working as a coach for a personal development program in Calgary, Alberta, when I learned about a waitress that was earning over double the tips of all the other waitresses in her restaurant. She wasn’t the best looking, she didn’t have the best personality, and she wasn’t funnier or louder than her co-workers. Yet repeatedly, night after night, she brought home significantly more than all the other waitresses. What was her secret? – Warm authentic touch.
Patrons in her section would be greeted by a soft touch on the back or a sleeve, a light touch on the shoulder when asking if they were ready to order, and a light touch on the hand when presenting the bill following the meal. It was as though she was able to instantly connect with everyone she served, as she made her way around the entire parties table making all feel valued. Those she served would describe her as having made them ‘feel welcome and at home’, tipping well, and often returning to the restaurant and requesting that she serve them again.
Upon learning about this I – A) was immediately intrigued and B) wanted to begin ‘field testing’ this technique for myself. The first thing I did was call my cousin Joy who was at the time, working as a waitress at Applebee’s. She was hesitant and unsure at first, yet after persisting, she agreed to try the technique out for the next week or two. Sure enough, success. Joy stated that she was up at least 30% more in tips than she had been prior to using the ‘touch technique’. I began wondering how else this technique could be utilized.
At this point in my life I was also Instructing First Aid Courses through the Canadian Red Cross, a standardized two-day course delivered throughout Canada. Most of the learners that I was instructing, were male and worked in the Oil & Gas and Construction Industry. I decided to conduct a little experiment. The first class in ‘my experiment’ I decided I would teach, but not touch anyone. I referred to video clips, performed demonstrations strictly on mannequins, and didn’t even shake the students hands on the final day of class. When reviewing my evaluations they were good for the most part, but certainly not stellar.
The next class in ‘my experiment’ was completely different. I shook everyone’s hand and introduced myself to everyone personally at the very start. Continually I walked around assisting in sling applications, and correcting arm posture while performing chest compressions. By Day 2 I began to feel quite out of my introverted comfort zone, as these burly men would put an arm around my shoulder or pat me on the back. The class was high energy, individuals were enthusiastic to participate, and I received some of the best reviews I have ever received. One particular review stated; “I have taken many First Aid classes over the last 30 years and hands down this was the best class I have ever been in.”
After this success I decided to step it up a notch and experiment with this technique in a new environment, the local bar-scene. Over a period of about 6-8 months I ran a new kind of experiment each time I would go out to a pub, bar, or nightclub. First, I would scan the bar for the biggest, scariest looking guys that I could identify; Bikers, Soldiers, Tattooed Body Builder Types. Then, without them knowing, I would create an opportunity to make personal contact with them as I made my way through the crowd, excusing myself as I passed with a hand on the upper back or shoulder. Initially, my thought was this would eliminate me from becoming a target by creating a subtle form of connection should one of these individuals become angry, and begin seeking a fight, however an interesting thing occurred. Repeatedly, night after night, I began being bought drinks; British Soldiers, H.A. Bikers, Oil Rig Workers, began buying me shooters, beers, and cocktails. Understand this, straight guys don’t go to the bar to buy other guys drinks, yet this would happen in some fashion every night I went out and intentionally touched these guys.
I have since continued to utilize this technique in all types of situations, from meeting with potential clients to attending functions and networking events.
Three main points to consider when using touch in social interactions
1) Ensure you are coming from a place of authenticity. People will pick up on your sincerity or lack there-of. If individuals feel they are being manipulated in any way they will close off. Approach the other person with integrity.
2) Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. A good question to consider is; what kind of touch would this person appreciate? Some people are ‘huggers’ and others are strictly ‘hand-shakers’, hugging a hand-shaker could feel intrusive, and hand-shaking a hugger may not produce as strong a connection.
3) Become curious about other people. When you become curious and interested in other people, they tend to open up. Being more naturally introverted myself, I find whenever I approach another person from a point of curious discovery, incorporating kind & sincere touch becomes natural to embrace the others humanity.
Most importantly, have fun, and don’t take the process too seriously. Not everyone will necessarily reciprocate to the level you suspect, and you will never know the hearts you will be able to open, with a simple warm authentic touch.