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Why customers order what they do


gfron1
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I admit, this is a stupid topic, but I'll be damned if I can figure this question out. Customers have 10-15 options each day. For some odd reason, they all seem to pick the same one. Yesterday it was all about my special - bibimbop. Today it was anything with bacon. Does anyone else have this happen? Is there a reason? Was Charlotte's Web on TV last night making everyone thing about bacon? What the hell is going on here?!

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I was actually thinking about the exact same thing the other day. Some days we will sell the hell out of one item and I can not figure out exactly why. When you get 10 or so orders for the same dish in an hour it leaves you scratching your head a bit.

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Hmm, is your menu today the same as it was yesterday? That brings into play a whole new set of factors.

1. The way something is written, or the order it appears on the menu, changes the probability with which it is ordered. Possibly there's a magic number of items where each item has an equal chance of being ordered, but once you add more items, it actually makes ordering some "special" items more probable.

2. The temperature/ weather of the day.

3. Spotting someone else ordering the same thing-- actually I think this is a really big factor.

4. If one person orders a bacon dish, the aroma of the smoke might set off the desire in others.

5. The fact that a lot of people ordered bibimbap yesterday puts them on the same cycle-- I had Korean yesterday, let's order something more familiar today

6. Any chance the music playing was kind of... Bacon-y? Ha ha ha.

7. You're right, catching things on television or an advertisement beforehand is still an important influence.

Mark

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I don't think it's a stupid topic at all. I had a subscription to Nation's Restaurant News for a while, which indicated that this question is pretty much the #1 question of the hospitality industry.

Menu descriptions (use "crispy," "crunchy," etc. to boost sales), food aromas, perceived value, server suggestions, "specials"... they all have their place. And don't forget market share: was anyone else serving bibimbap in Silver City that day, Rob? :wink:

Chris Amirault

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OK, I just learned what bibimbop is and I find it even more amazing that it would be the customer's choice over more usual stuff. I'm sure that yours is delicious, even transporting in its wonderfulness, but the description at various websites is not very impressive and this adventurous eater would choose a reubin over bibimbob every time.

So why was it the leader? Maybe it looked really pretty on the table. Perhaps the prettiest people had ordered it and looked great eating it.

Or maybe there was a Korean convention in town.

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OK, I just learned what bibimbop is and I find it even more amazing that it would be the customer's choice over more usual stuff.  I'm sure that yours is delicious, even transporting in its wonderfulness, but the description at various websites is not very impressive and this adventurous eater would choose a reuben over bibimbob every time.

Dude, bibimbap is awesome. Dolsot bibimbap, even more so.

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Bibimbap is a Korean gateway food. Most people who've never tried Korean food before enjoy bibimbap - when I lived in Korea, it was almost always given to newly arrived teachers! You can control the spiciness level, which I think is why it stands out among Korean dishes as foreigner-friendly. At least in the minds of Koreans, that is.

There's a bibimbap topic, and a cookoff, as well.

As for why everybody ordered it - maybe it was the most interesting thing on the menu that day? Is the menu the same every day?

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Right, because to me its the epitome of Korean lunch dining (I put bulgogi bbq more as a dinner item), it is the obvious choice for me to serve, and I do a lot of educating of customers. Of all of my specials, it is by far the most requested and best selling...but back to the question.

Manggy, I don't change my menu during the week, so that isn't a factor. It could be that whatever is being eaten by the person nearest the front door will be the hot item, or whatever I am carrying out from the kitchen the most leads to more orders of the same. I know that weather plays a factor. Chilly day - double batch of green chile corn chowder.

I'd like to think its some universal collective conscious that guides our ordering decision. Those who order something else are off kilter!

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I consider eating out a "special treat"....and what I usually do choose to eat is also supposed to be "special". (It's possible I'm in the minority in mainly home cooking, though.) To me, this means something that I typically don't make at home (either because it's a hassle or it seems like it would be better done by a professional).

I don't eat bacon....but I think that feeds into the "hassle factor" for some people. It splatters. The smell can linger. Folks may not deal well with a whole package once it's opened and it ends up rancid. Or they may not want an entire package hanging around for consumption, so it's an order-out treat.

I've never made bibimbap at home....though I may start to because there isn't a decent place to get it in town. But GOOD bibimbap.....yep, I'm probably not adept enough to balance the flavors and get the delicious crunchy bottom that I love.

All the suggestions upthread make sense....just wanted to add something else for thought in your particular cases.

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This is kind of like last Sunday when I noticed they had Wurst platters at the place we stopped for lunch....table of 7 people - 5 Bauerenwurst,

2 Bratwurst

I was really happy they had enough

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

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Well when you take out the obvious factors - say everyones ordering bacon and there's been a feature in the paper, or salads when it's hot look at the maths.

It's probably all down to probability and human perception. On the everyday when customers order a wide spread you forget it (it didn't make you notice it) but when everyone orders the same thing you remember it and human nature tries to figure out a reason.

The classic is if someone dreams a person they know dies and the next day they did! Wow your dream was a premonition and it registers hugely in your consciousness. but if you take cases where people record there dreams and the person (supposidly dead) is ok it get's forgotten as a bad dream. If you look at the probability of dreaming someone dies and that person dies and multiply it by the millions of people in the country it happens all the time.

As Terry Pratchet say's in one of his diskworld books "Million to one chances always work" - then a bizzare narrative to up the chances to kill the dragon to a million to on !

If you really want to try to know you could try to keep a log of:-

- What customers ordered (you could only be remembering the exceptional times)

- The weather that day - Hot = Salad, Cold = Hot & Comfort

- Newspapers - What was the influence of that?

- Your stock (The quality of food - perhaps an aromatic bacon from a supplier)

- Who's cooking/serving (Perhaps when certain members of staff are on this happens)

- and so on

Supermarkets do this to adjust their orders (E.g if the weather forecast is hot more ice cream, BBQ etc). Article on X then have more (or less) X in stock and so on.

It's very complex and if your a huge business you probably can't do it, but keep a diary and compare it with your orders, you may be surprised what you find.

Edited by ermintrude (log)

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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That's definitely a factor since you will always smell bacon and bread in our place every day. But, that's where this theory falters...I do bacon and bread EVERYday, yet bacon only dominated on two days this week. :wacko: The mystery continues!

And for the record, I will not be keeping a journal of such matters - I like to delve into minutia, but not that much. :smile:

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think other guests seeing something that looks tempting and then ordering it is a big factor in all this, especially desset, which tends to be more of an impulse decision. Where I work, we have this delicious wok-sauteed lobster with XO sauce. It looks really impressive all piled on the plate and smells amazing, rich and spicy. If I bring one out, chances are I'll sell a few more in my section! People just look at it and think mmm, want.

"An appetite for destruction, but I scrape the plate."

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It's "bibimbap."
That depends on how you translate Korean pronunciation to "Romanji"...as an example, I've seen kimchi, kimcheee, gimche, and other more interesting spellings (and that's just on Korean menus)

Red meat is not bad for you. Now blue-green meat, that’s bad for you!

Tommy Smothers

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I'd like to think its some universal collective conscious that guides our ordering decision.  Those who order something else are off kilter!

I think you're onto something with that. The Borg likes bibimbap/bop. :laugh:

Actually, I've wondered about it before because it goes on in other areas as well. How does the entire town know what time they're going to eat on a given day? Monday, everybody eats at 6pm. Tuesday, everybody eats at 5:15pm. Wednesday, everybody eats at 7:30pm. And so on. Then next week it's completely different but whatever time it starts, that's when they all want to eat on that day. Does a memo go out? "Ok everybody, tonight it's dinner at 8:17pm... don't tell the restaurant workers!"

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I'd like to think its some universal collective conscious that guides our ordering decision.  Those who order something else are off kilter!

I think you're onto something with that. The Borg likes bibimbap/bop. :laugh:

Actually, I've wondered about it before because it goes on in other areas as well. How does the entire town know what time they're going to eat on a given day? Monday, everybody eats at 6pm. Tuesday, everybody eats at 5:15pm. Wednesday, everybody eats at 7:30pm. And so on. Then next week it's completely different but whatever time it starts, that's when they all want to eat on that day. Does a memo go out? "Ok everybody, tonight it's dinner at 8:17pm... don't tell the restaurant workers!"

I think there is a mass email that goes out that says where, when and what to eat. Its just too bad we dont get this email

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Today was pork day. I expected the Bacon, Cheddar, Green Chile sandwiches to sell since I cooked bacon this morning, but the Ham, Cheese, Bechamel I did not expect. Must have been a pork conspiracy associated with the smell of bacon...or universal alignment!

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  • 3 weeks later...

There are times when I see certain items on the menu all the time, and the other items are here and there. But, then there are times when all of a sudden almost everyone in the dining room orders the same thing! This is when I get really hammered and I blow through all of my prep. This is something that as always remained a mystery to me as well. Some days the customers/members want item A and other times... item B.

At the end of the day, it's all about good food!

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