As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I love Hooters Restaurants. Best burgers, wings AND sports on the big screens. My kind of place for football and hockey seasons.
On a recent visit during the NFL playoffs, our Hooters Girl offered a bright orange Hooters branded pen to sign off on our bill. Restaurants not using branded pens is a BIG pet peeve of mine. So I was pleasantly surprised to see a promotional pen being used. But this one was, well, a little different.
The pen used was a very popular design from Bic® which features a window to display a different text message every time the pen is clicked. Being curious and fidgety and usual, I clicked through the messages. But the messages weren’t for customers. They were reminders for the Hooters Girls. Messages included reminders to smile, upsell, suggest certain appetizers and entrees, etc.
Hmm… that’s interesting.
Obviously, these pens were distributed to the staff during some training exercises. Technically, our Hooters Girl probably shouldn’t have been using them for customers. But unfortunately since most restaurants don’t provide pens for their wait staff to use with customers, this was just another pen to use.
That got me thinking. Can a promotional pen like this, with positive and reinforcing instructional messages on it, motivate restaurant staff to be more effective in their jobs? Maybe, maybe not.
- Imprinting… and Not the Ink Kind – Motivational messages in strategic places throughout the work environment can have positive effects. Most employee safety programs use them effectively. So, yes, this customized promotional pen with its multiple messages could imprint positive behavioral instructions when used, especially if it’s a pen that employees would enjoy using. These particular pens really are fun to use (with the rotating message barrel) and provide a comfortable writing experience (which helps suggest that the instructions are fun, easy and comfortable things to do).
- Doing What Comes Naturally – When restaurants don’t supply their wait staff with pens to use with customers, what will servers naturally do? Exactly as my Hooters Girl did. They’ll use whatever pens come into their reach, regardless of the appropriateness of the pen for the purpose. (Click here to see some really ridiculous examples of what can happen.) Did they think their Girls would know not to use them in a customer service situation? That is assuming too much in my opinion.
So what would I have suggested to Hooters? First, I want to give them kudos for using a promotional product for a training tool. However, since I know how restaurant wait staffers behave, I would have recommended they buy the same pen, but make the rotating messages appropriate for viewing by either employees or customers. For example, I would have used rotating messages such as “Try New Super Hot Wings” “Burgers, Beer & Baseball” “Like Us on Facebook at Original Hooters” (Yes, they have a social media strategy, too.)
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