An Awesome Experiment

I remember reading a while back that Panera Bread, the restaurant chain, was trying something different. A very few stores would run as “Pay What You Want” establishments. The idea was that the customer would place an order, Panera would suggest a value – something like the retail cost – and the customer would pay what he or she could or wanted to pay.

MSN reported some results:

“The majority of patrons pay retail value or more. Statistics provided by Panera indicate that roughly 60 percent leave the suggested amount; 20 percent leave more; and 20 percent less. One person paid $500 for a meal, the largest single payment.

“From the day it opened, the community has just gotten stronger and stronger in their support of this,” Shaich said. “They got that this was a cafe of shared responsibility.””

These stores are not part of Panera’s “bottom line”, but run through their Foundation, and they still seem to be running at 80% of retail. Anything earned above cost is being used for a job-training program.

Kudos to Panera for trying something out. And how great that it seems to be working!

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