Every town has them (especially the small ones), that one diner that everyone knows about and that has been a part of the community for years and years. You know, the one where you know the waitresses by name and can recite their menu? Ya, that place. Well, I’ve learned a couple lessons from my local diner that are applicable across all business segments so take a seat, place your order and enjoy:
- When your product is in demand, you can make a few demands-For example the diner in town only accepts cash. I have never heard a customer complain about it being inconvenient, not up to date etc. NO, they don’t do it because they don’t care. They love the food so they don’t mind having to keep a few bills in their wallet to be able to eat there. It is great for the diner because they don’t have to pay any credit card processing fees or risking checks bouncing, etc. All they have to do is count the green. How can you streamline your business to make it more efficient?
- Reduce your costs by allowing others to advertise in your space-Example number two: when I go into the diner and want a cup of coffee I don’t get a cup that says “Joe’s Diner”, I get a coffee cup that might say “Jerry’s dry cleaning”. Genius! The diner doesn’t pay for some of their own traditional expenses, they let local businesses cover that cost for them. Also you see this a lot with place mats where various local shops advertise on them. These actions help the diner lower their own operating costs while at the same time promoting other local businesses. Get a little creative with your own business and see how you could get other businesses to help you save money.
- Your business needs a social element-final example: When I go into the diner, day after day I notice the same people. People are meeting there for their morning coffee, they are reading the local paper, they are meeting clients for lunch, etc. Most of the people that eat there eat there every day or multiple times a week. It has a social aspect to it. Remember in the intro I said that you knew the waitresses name? Well that is part of it too. They also know yours. When you come in they probably know your drink order and maybe even your meal order. Yes, that is part of great customer service, but it also is part of the social/community element that the diner has established. Everyone is friends, everyone feels welcome, everyone is on a first name basis. When you can develop something like that in your business it will be a community not only for your employees, but also for your customers. Communities=repeat and happy customers along with happy and productive staff.
Now for your homework: go down to your local diner, order your favorite meal and see if you notice the same things I did, it basically comes down to this: have a product people seek out, let others co-op your costs, become a community, not just a commodity. Enjoy your meal.
- Matthew King