It’s a business strategy they definitely don’t teach in school: letting customers pay what they want. But that’s exactly what Dana Parris has done for the past week at her Dallas, North Carolina, restaurant Just Cookin’ – and since then, revenue has nearly tripled.
“We’re in a very small college town and in the summer business just goes down. I had been praying and praying, and this business is God’s business, but I didn’t feel like I was totally giving it over to God,” Parris, 52, told ABC News. “The cash register is the part I was keeping hold on. I finally just gave up control of it and it has been a blessing.”
Parris posted a sign at the register that reads, “What are we worth? I am putting my faith where my cash register is … No prices…no totals…you pay what you think your meal is worth!!!”
Since then, customers have been responding in a variety of ways.
“We’ve had some people come to eat who couldn’t have afforded to eat and other people pay a little bit more. It’s been catching on with the other customers. Customers just see a table in the dining room and say, ‘I’m going to pay for their food,’” she said. “Customers leave extra money and say this is for the next person that comes up. We don’t want anybody to feel bad when they come up. If someone just says I want to pay regular menu price, that’s fine too. We’re not forcing anybody to do anything.”
Most community members have been very supportive of Parris’ initiative, though some commenters on the restaurant’s Facebook page aren’t as on board with the idea.
“There have been a few doubters and people that have gotten rather irritated. I had one gentleman tell me [on the Facebook page] he wishes he could let a fake God run his business and lay in bed every morning,” Parris explained. “I’m here at five every morning. I open the business and I’m working until close today. I don’t sit home and say, ‘God will do it.’ That’s not what this is about. It’s about applying my faith to every aspect of this business.”
A regular cheeseburger at Just Cookin’, which is a grill that serves American fare, used to ring up at $3.09. Now, it will indefinitely be whatever a customer sees fit.
Parris initially planned to only run the promotion for one week, but it has gone so well that she doesn’t know when it will end.
“I think I’m just going to keep it going. I’m not sure about actual profits yet, but our revenues have almost tripled and my guest checks [number of people coming in] have tripled also,” she said. “I’m amazed. It’s awesome.”