By Paul Provost, President
Recently, I had an interesting experience over breakfast - one that relates to most every business and how they operate and how they market themselves. Allow me to explain:
The First Impression
I had a breakfast scheduled at a location that I had never been to before (quite like the experience that most new clients have with businesses they've never dealt with). I walked in and immediately was unimpressed by the decor. While it was clean and well maintained, it was obvious that little to no efforts had been made to keep the establishment modern / up to date. It was like the place was lost in time, from the mid-80s. Being someone that appreciates modern decor and state of the art, I found it immediately set my expectations fairly low on how the experience would go and whether I would return.
Having walked into the restaurant at around 8:00 am, I was immediately greeted (within 20 seconds) by the host and advised to choose a table. The quick, friendly greeting was appreciated. Walking through the restaurant, I noticed two clear groups of people:
- Retirees (90% of people in the place were over 60 years old)
- Contractors / Blue collar workers (2 tables of tradesmen)
At this point, it was noteworthy but I didn't think much on it. I sat down and was very quickly asked what I'd like to drink and I begged for coffee and a full carafe came within seconds. I opened the menu and found my favorite breakfast (Ham Steak and Eggs) at a ridiculously low price of $4.99 (I can't buy a ham steak at the grocery store for that price) and ordered it. My expectation related to this meal was that I'd get the deli counter version of shaved ham (due to the price point). I opened the morning newspaper and read a few pages and in under 10 minutes, I got my breakfast (around 8:20 am) and lo and behold a full ham steak with perfectly cooked hash browns and toast came. My initial experience had come around and I found myself appreciative of the service. I finished the breakfast and got up to pay the bill around 8:30 am.
The Lasting Impression
- Good service, good value are still the staples of good businesses. A fancy foyer / outer face does not make up for poor service, bad value.
- Regardless of whether you have a great looking customer interface (your brand / marketing), ensure your service experience and pricing provide good value. Fight hard to keep / provide that.
- If your strategy is low price, don't over-invest in over fancy / flashy marketing / upgrades. Make sure it is clean and professional but don't overdo it. The right combination of price and amenities (atmosphere) needs to be carefully considered.
- The relationship between marketing, sales and operations is not to be ignored. Your sales / operational reputation has a great bearing on your marketing. Great marketing will struggle to maintain a business with mediocre to poor service or operations.
- Follow the retirees / contractors to value. People on limited budgets / fixed income know (from experience) where to get good value. Proper service and good value produce long-standing clients that will return for more.
If you are interested in learning where this magical place is - drop me a line and I will be happy to share with you.