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.
“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!