In a cheeky recent piece titled "The Creepy Capital Efficiency of Goldman's Cafeteria," CNBC's John Carney explores the successful effort of the foodservice operation at Wall Street financial firm Goldman Sachs to minimize the lunch rush in its cafeteria by offering 25% discounts on meals purchased before 11:30 am and after 1:30 pm.
Even though the discount really represents only a couple dollars savings for the typical diner, the peer pressure at the company is apparently significant, Carney says, as "one of the things you don't want to do as an employee at Goldman—ever—is admit you overpaid for something. How can you be trusted to trade bonds if you can't be trusted to buy lunch at the best price?"
But can you trust an employee who is content to stand around the servery with their trays waiting for the clock to strike 1:30 before hitting the checkout just to save a couple bucks, as Carney says many Goldmaners do? Apparently they can be, and even Chairman/CEO Lloyd Blankfein may even be one of them. Carney says Blankfein reportedly loves the Goldman cafeteria and "I bet he eats before 11:30 or after 1:30."
Good thing, because if he ever came down at, say, noon and saw associates sitting there eating at full price, he may begin wondering if the Goldman salary scale might be out of whack on the high side. On the other hand, those employees may also be making a personal monetary sacrifice for the company. After all, I bet the lines are a breeze to get through at that time so you can eat and get back to work quickly.
Of course, on a more serious note, Goldman's initiative is an innovative way to even out the lunch rush that strains many onsite dining operations and can yield more participation, less pressure on staff and facilities and greater customer satisfaction desite the revenue loss generated by the discount.