Adequate and Inadequate

Once I get to know a food retailer owner, I am happy to tell them when I think they are being adequate or inadequate. Most of the time it has NOTHING to do with their food, not the quantity, nor the quality – it usually comes down to something even simpler that they just haven’t thought about in their development of their restaurant or sandwich shop brand.

They don’t have to listen to me, but a lot of times, they have.

I can take the “step back” to be objective – for the most part – about what I see and what I experience. I observe what other people experience and I am not alone in my personal interests for what should be offered to customers.

I know a lot of business decisions made are based on funding – trying to do as much as you can for as little as possible to maximize revenue. But sometimes the littlest things can make all the difference in the customer’s experience and in their perspective of your brand.

For example, and this is something very simple and easily adjusted, for a little bit more in cost…napkins.

Those tiny, thin, low-fold napkins work ok for ice cream, water ice, popcorn and soft pretzels, but not for gourmet sandwiches or even not-so-gourmet-cheesesteaks which are also messy and drippy.

Even if your sandwich was served from a food truck – match the service items to the quality of the food, the retail cost of your products and the type of customer who is enjoying them. Is your customer going to take more than they need if you upgrade your paper products or will they be happy that they didn’t drip melted cheese and sauce on their dress pants at lunch?

The other day, we ordered sandwiches to go from a bagel shop. 3 huge NY style bagels covered in far more cream cheese than we needed and yet, just 3 tiny, thin old-school, cheap-o napkins were inserted into our bag. We were driving to a meeting, full on, ready to impress… we do not need to have food on our face, hands nor our clothes for this meeting thank you very much… plus – this was a $25 order  with beverages. Maybe just a bit less cream cheese and a few more – or just 3 larger – product appropriate service items.

Ages ago, I found out that the owner of this great little independent gourmet sandwich shop was my hair dresser’s brother-in-law. He was an aspiring chef and he was really new on the local lunch hang out. His place was always crowded – even when it wasn’t crowded I preferred to take-out so I could eat at my desk with a pile of paper towels to sop up the ensuing evidence of fresh oven roasted turkey with roasted peppers, crisp romaine and this amazing mustard/mayo (or was it balsamic aioli – I don’t think I ever found out his secret ingredients.)

Anyway,  that day I had the opportunity to tell him my “one thing” that I thought could help.  “John, the napkins aren’t adequate.  I am a mess when I leave there. The food – delectable. Expensive but totally worth it because the ingredients are fresh, store made and satisfying… but your teensie little napkins are just inadequate for that amazing hoagie.”
napkins for less
Yea – but won’t you take like 5 if I get those bigger ones?
“Nope. Just one will do.”

A week later, I was in his shop – he saw me and picked up the napkin – nodded his head and said “did you notice?” and I had to smile and nod back.

He and I had a chance to talk a few months later when I was in the salon and he had stopped in again to see Kim. We had a little chat, I said Thank you… he said – no, Thank You. He went on to own a bigger restaurant in a residential area of the city and I was sad to see my little shop leave, but I was happy for him and his success – especially if I had a little part in it.

Just a little thing that can make the difference between inadequate and more than adequate.

~ Dawn aka Hat Girl

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