One of the greatest business success factors is focusing everything you do around satisfying the customer. This is the single most valuable business strategy needed to grow and sustain a barbeque business.
As a pitmaster, cook, owner, you need to understand how your customers think about food, how they make decisions to purchase, and purchase from you. This is achieved by listening and asking questions and observing what sells most and what is requested most. Delivering excellence is what drives it all. Whether food prep, visual appearance, plate layout, smell, textures, location, pricing, service, doing so with excellence is the make or break.
Although you can’t completely quantify what makes a business successful, many of the most successful barbeque businesses have a lot in common. Even with different products and services, varying styles, successful businesses overlap in the basics.
From customer service to new technology, observe the barbeque businesses you admire but not just the food they offer. Consider the benefits they offer staff, the way they buy product, how they serve, cooking style and so on.
“A business that is able to nurture the same passion they have for their offering within their employees is one that will deliver excellence to their customers at every touchpoint.” –Lance Williams
The golden key to business success: A Sense of Mission
A company’s mission is essential to operating every area of the business. It helps grow the company when a major achievement is a clear mission. It gives the employees something to work toward and provides a sense of purpose. It also lets customers know what your company stands for and creates a personal connection, an affinity with your brand.
The notion of mission is thrown around a great deal. But it’s much, much more than just a poster claiming that you stand for something. Your business should run according to your mission. Do you say you’re dedicated to a certain flavor consistency, or as Ben Lang would put it, “An amazing flavor profile?” Then you should learn the techniques that will assure that outcome. A course at the Lang Q-School would be a top-notch way to stay sharp. The more your mission can focus how your business runs, the more meaning it’ll add to your company. The more your mission focuses on customers the more your sales will soar!
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Focusing on customers
Customer service and customer experience are major focuses of the most successful companies. The first step in a barbeque business is the same as any other– creating products and services that customers want. But that’s not all there is to it, it goes beyond your products. Customers are fed-up (no pun intended), with companies that have complex and annoying automated answering systems, online communications only, terribly long on hold times while listening to various forms of elevator music and all the rest.
Consumers do want a personal touch…a human touch. What better place to provide that than barbeque! Customers want to feel that their doing business with you is valued by you. They want to know that you offer the foods they enjoy, the way they want them. And they appreciate great service in the process. And this is important for another season: with the ease at which someone can go on social media and post bad reviews about you, can be extremely serious and difficult to overcome.
The return factor
Customers will become repeat buyers because thy receive superior meals backed by customer service. Notice that price is not mentioned in the previous sentence. People will pay more if they get more– more service, more quality, more taste and more of an experience.
Your staff must be smokin’ good
Don’t overlook the direct affect your staff will have on customers. Customers rarely put up with lackluster, grumpy employees. Servicing customers will encourage them to return for more. One more thought. If a customer, for any reason, wants their money back, do not hesitate to refund it and ask what you can do in addition, to satisfy the problem. Most of us shop online and these businesses are excellent at taking returns or replacing items without making the process difficult. Barbeque joints, big or small, need good staff and managers. The chef, cook or pitmaster must not be the typical prima donna type. They must genuinely appreciate and respect their staff. Each employee must know and be encouraged to know the culture, the expectations and the don’t ever dos.
When you have to correct someone make it constructive and try not to do so in front of others when possible. Employees should feel valued even when corrected. Of course, you can’t blame employees for not doing what they are supposed to do if they don’t know what is expected. That is a serious and common issue. There’s little that you are not aware regarding how difficult the hiring market is. Just about anywhere you go shopping you see a help wanted sign or signs apologizing for longer serving times because they can’t get the help they need. So, keep and value those good workers.
Managers and business owners often invest a great deal of time on the numbers, the buying process, the profitability, the ratios between meal cost and meal products purchasing, rent and so on. Yes, that is important but do not overlook your employees because if they walk out the door you are, for all intents and purposes, out of business. Providing employees with training is very important. The more they become experts the more productive they will be and in turn improve your business.
One of the most famous advertising giants was David Ogilvy. He often said, “The greatest assets this agency has, walk out the door at 5 PM every day.”
Staying in the forefront
When you come up with a great meal item that really hits it with customers, you will likely be copied. Look how many fast-food burger joints there are. Each one is vying for the lead, but they all make hamburgers. How they serve them is the key. And notice how often McDonalds comes up with a new meal item or new promotion. Even soda giant Coca Cola tried the “New Coke.” Check out Dominos Pizza. They come up with new crust, new topping combos, pizza bread, and you name it, on regular basis.
Exceptional companies are looking to innovate as a way to remain in the forefront and keep customers satisfied. They try new food items regularly to show that they are keeping up with trends and notions that will attract more customers while supporting existing ones. In the tech world one cannot avoid mentioning Apple. Steve Jobs set the change and the make something new culture and it remains in that mode. Their phones and watches continuously update and innovate. By the way, look how much they charge for their phones. Big money and with every new introduction, people line up all night waiting to get into an Apple store and open their wallets as soon as they open the doors. Apple produces and sells the leading laptops, smartphones, watches and tablets.
“Barbeque businesses are not Apple, we’re small businesses,” you say. Yes but improving your products, providing them in new ways, is smart.
Innovating at the small business level looks a little different, but still impacts the business. Improving a product, finding a way to offer a lower price, or higher price or discovering new ways to show customers you appreciate them are all powerful innovations. Never stop pursuing great ideas.
No plan. No future.
Someone once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
Are you planning to grow your business by a certain amount in the next year or five years? Why are you going to do that? How are you going to accomplish that? What will it take in terms of finance, labor, time, new learning? You can’t just say you’re going to achieve something without a solid plan to get you there. Long-term goals are important. Growth means a willingness to change and adapt.
One of the constant changes is technology. Successful companies are quick to engage new technology. There’s little doubt that customers are embracing technology, like it or not. As you add new technology, you continue advancing. If you wait too long, you have to catch up. New technology can help you save money in many ways.
What are you falling in love with?
One of the greatest factors that cause businesses to fail is poor financing. As true as that is there is a more insidious cause. Too many people fall in love with the idea of something, but not the something. People start businesses in that way. They even get married on that logic. Businesspeople often become enamored with restaurants. They fall in love with the idea of owning a restaurant. They soon find out that there’s more, much, much more to it than the perceived glamor or ambiance. Be sure, absolutely certain that you have an inner passion to start a barbeque businesses because when things get tough that is what will take you through. Passion is bigger than the problems that come along. History has shown that passionate people endure and go on to achieve their dreams. Think of BBQ this way: Be Bold never Quit.
All of us at Lang Smoker Cookers are here to support you and help you be successful.