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Let them pay...

For years, my Turkish friend in NYC has been challenging me to a game of Backgammon. We have been teasing each other, threatening one another and trash talking about it like there is no tomorrow. When it comes to Backgammon and coming from the Middle-East….you can be certain, egos are flying all over the place. So, a few weeks ago it finally happened. He picked me up at the airport and took me to a Turkish restaurant downtown for lunch (home court advantage – I know!). We have an amazing meal together. Great food.

As we finish the last bite of the delicious Chicken Shish, a short, bald mustached big belly guy (later I learned this is the owner), approached us, exchanged a few words in Turkish with my friend who signaled me to follow them. Being myself from the Middle East this was nothing foreign. We entered the back section of the restaurant, a clean table, quieter area, and literally, as we were sitting down a waiter walked in and served us some Turkish Coffee and Baklava. The check was on the table and then, they both left us by ourselves in the room. Just turned around and left. As if they did enough. They served their last piece of the meal and now it is up to us - the customer. They basically...let us pay...comfortably...

In the Middle East it is customary in local restaurants where after you finish your entrée, they ask you politely to move to another table for the coffee and dessert. This is a ritual which is part of the culture. Not anything fancy. Not anything unique. And the reason behind it is based on the psychology that you should have the last part of your EXPERIENCE (NOT just a meal) by a clean table - you don’t need to be there when they clean your table from the meal after-math and usually the coffee and dessert (Baklava and Turkish coffee) is on the house. You are calm, relax positively emotional so when it’s time to pull out the wallet you will pay happily, gratefully and perhaps add a few Shekels to the tip.

Think about it for a second – simple, thought through, practical and so right! Yes, they need to clean another table (although a very easy clean as it is just the dessert and coffee) but the EXPERIENCE for the customer is so much more pleasant and emotionally positive that they will leave the restaurant wanting to share and return.

The other piece of psychology here is “hitting” your customer emotionally right before they are ready to pay. To finish the transaction. And then….leave them be. When you are in a room selling, this is the point to simply…shut up. And MANY people miss those signals. When a customer asks you “how much?” or requests the pricing – stop selling. Just give them the price. No need to tell any more stories or add anymore details about the product. “Leave the room” just like the Turkish manager left my friend and I alone. They want to buy. If you did what the Turkish guy did and got them to this point through a positively emotional ride they will happily want to pay.

In the retail world it is implemented very well at the checkout registers – the owners know - at that point, they not only want to allow you to pay as quickly and as smoothly as possible but also trying to get you to experience something positively emotional by giving you coupons for your next visit, asking you if you found everything etc. To prove to you how critical this point of the process is emotionally relevant simply think if this experience was negative how would you react. Think about the last time you went to a store and got delayed at the checkout because of a technical issue or simply an annoying sales person who thought they were being funny. How aggravated were you at that point?



transitive verb

o·ver·sold, o·ver·sell·ing, o·ver·sells To be too eager or insistent in attempting to sell something.


So after the two Turks left the room, my friend and I noticed a beautiful backgammon board at the edge of the table. This is when I found out that my friend told the manager earlier (in Turkish) about our little desired head-to-head and the manager simply set it up. We played for about 40 minutes. It was a blast. The Baklava was fresh and sweet, the company was superb, and the coffee was unbelievable. We left a very hefty tip and promised to return.

Oh and yes….I won!


I recently found out that someone I love dearly does not know how to play backgammon. What?? Can’t wait to take them to this Turkish restaurant and show them some creative Backgammon moves….and let them pay...

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