This past weekend I ate a restaurant that had a “C health-sanitation rating. A long electrical cord hung from a light bulb in the ceiling. The blinds, half broken, did their best to keep out the sun’s rays. The tables, made of formica looked like something straight out of Granny’s kitchen, the mis-matched wooden chairs had surely been rescued from the Salvation Army’s give-away pile. The floor – large grey linoleum tiles that were cracked and faded - had certainly seen better days. The walls covered with yellowing newspaper cut-outs and old horse posters really made you feel like you were walking back in time 40 years. And the menu (don’t expect any at the table), was scribbled on a white piece of paper in sharpie and scotch-taped on the wall.
Yet the place was packed, wall to wall on a Sunday morning – the atmosphere electric and excited as horse-people from practically every discipline tucked into freshly cooked bacon, Southern-style grits and a stack of French Toast so high it was difficult to see across the table. The owners, who work 7 days a week, welcome you with a smile that is worth driving three hundred miles to receive as they peek out from amongst their piles of dirty dishes, grease smattered walls and happy chaos of a kitchen.
This place is an institution for horse people. It has been for the last 30 years. In a world that is over-sanitized, over-modernized and over-sensationalized, this little restaurant is a happy antidote. It has succeeded despite the odds, not because it’s the best place to eat breakfast in town (it isn’t). But because they treat people the best. They remember your name. They ask you about family. There’s no air of pretention. But make no mistake – the success of this business is no happy accident. This family understands perfectly their target market and what they need: a good, hearty breakfast served fast – with a sense of belonging.
That brings us to your business. How well do you understand your target market and what their needs are? If you stripped away “all the bells and whistles”, would your business still be successful because of the experience you deliver?
Step 7 of the Client Stampede Formula is – deliver an extraordinary experience. This little track kitchen has this nailed, so much so that if the health authorities tried to shut them down there would probably be a revolt at the licensing authority.
How can you engender that kind of loyalty and culture in your clients?
It’s food for thought!