Keep it Simple, Keep it Good

In n Out BurgerI heard about the In-N-Out burger chain several years ago. They have their roots in Southern California. We lived in San Bernardino while in the Air Force….I don’t remember In-N-Out…..however San Bernardino was the birthplace of McDonald’s!

 In-N-Out is an icon in the burger business. They keep it simple:

  • The Double-Double  
  • The Cheese Burger
  • The Hamburger
  • Fries
  • Shakes

Started in 1948, In-N-Out is a regional chain….with very loyal customers. They are still privately owned. Everthing is fresh and made in the restaurants….simple and good.

In-n-out bookA new book is out that I think summarizes why In-n-Out is a great business….“a fast-food chain that breaks all the rules.”

In-N-Out Burgers  have been added to my burger honor roll.

Toppers Pizza

Target a different demographic

toppers pizzaEver hear of Toppers Pizza….I haven’t.  Yet there are 26 Toppers Pizza stores primarily in Wisconsin, but also in Michigan, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota and two in Charlotte, NC . Toppers is a $19 million franchise chain based in Whitewater, WI. The first restaurant opened in 1993. According to the article in the Milwaukee Journal , Toppers has been successful because they target a 18-24 year-old demographic.  Independent operators dominate the pizza restaurant business. Pizza Hut has about 10% of the market, Domino’s with 6.8% and Papa John’s with a little over 3.5%. So plenty of room for the local pizza shop.

Businesses like Toppers do well because they know their market and understand their customers….and “They not only have what’s been considered to be by many very good pizza.”

I don’t know if I will get to a Toppers Pizza….however when an enterprise is successful….has a good product/service and knows it’s market….there is always something to learn.

I will add Toppers Pizza to my pizza honor roll.



Follow Up

Don’t give up!

We are looking at two significant home projects. So we have spoken to several enterprises that do that type of work. Every time we called for an estimate….they have responded. In a few cases….a “Thank You” note was sent thanking us for considering their business.

Flollow-up-phoneIt has been several weeks….since the initial visits. We have not made a final decision….these are large projects….we want all our ducks lined up and quacking together.

However, there has been no Follow Up from these folks. I suspect that they are either too busy….don’t understand the importance of staying in-touch….or fearful of hearing not getting the sale.

Yet, the Follow-Up could be the most critical part of the sales process. The very ideal of staying in-touch tells the buyer….you want the business….and we the customer want to hear that you are still interested in doing the work.

The End Result:

Follow-up is often difficult to complete in the sales process….yet could be the most important part of the whole deal.

Memorial Day

A Reason for a Sale?

Memorial Day sales. Yesterday I wrote about a sale event for Memorial Day. I was enticed by the sale. The items I sought were directly related to Memorial Day….so I feel OK about that.

memorial dayFrom a business standpoint….we never used these days (Memorial Day, July 4, Veterans Day) as reasons for sales. There are plenty of other reasons for a sales event.  Just as our county must retain its core values….businesses must do the same. Unfortunately, some folks use these special days for a sale rather than remembering what the day really commemorates.

Sorry About That

The friendly-helpful hardware man?

Customer Care?

I admit I am on my soapbox. I am fanatic about customer service/care. If a business doesn’t place a priority on that….than it has no right to be in business. Here’s the story:

AceThe local ACE store has a Memorial Day Sale. There was an item that I wanted. So I went to my real convenient ACE store and found one of the item….however I needed two (the other for a friend). The store manager asked an employee to call the other local ACE, about two miles away. They had two of the item. I asked them to put my name on one and I would be there in an hour (I had to go past that store later). The answer from the distant ACE store….No….it’s on sale…..can’t do that.  OK….I was a little annoyed.

On the way out, the local manager was next to my car unloading material. He asked if I was able to obtain the item I wanted. I said no and explained the reason. His response was: “Sorry about that”. What? Sorry?

Now this wasn’t a big deal….yet all he had to do was call the other ACE and say this is John….would you mind holding one of the items for a good customer….he’ll be there in a hour.

That ACE store will be there for years and I’ll go back of course….yet if you are a friendly-helpful business….shouldn’t you do everything with excellence whether it’s a $10 item or a $500 lawn mower?


Jim Collins

Jim Collins-Mighty FallJim Collins has written two excellent books: Good to Great and Built to Last.  Collins along with Oren Harari and Tom Peters are the three “experts” that I take seriously in the business/organization world. Collins keeps a somewhat low profile….so his web site isn’t on my list to the right. He has come out with a new book…. How the Mighty Fall And Why Some Companies Never Give In.

Jim Collins is an excellent writer and does his homework. In How the Mighty Fall he studies five stages of a company’s decline.

  1. Hubris born of success
  2. Undisciplined pursuit of hope
  3. Denial of risk and peril
  4. Grasping for salvation
  5. Capitulation to irrelevance or death

Chrysler and GM certainly are in stage 4. I know a couple more folks that are teetering between 4 and 5! My experience has been that this is stuff people have to pay attention too….yet these are  difficult ideas for some to comprehend and accept.

Doing it Right



Two recent quotes:

“The only strategy for high cost nations in the West competing with the cheap commodity products of the East is to devise ultra-high-quality products that are relentlessly differentiated.” (Global Province)

“Excellence, always. If not excellence, what? If not excellence now, when?” (Tom Peters)

The lesson is  simple:

 Differentiate your product/service….do everything you do superbly (with supreme excellence).

I have encountered several business/organizations where this hasn’t occurred. We are in a period where continuing in business depends on doing stuff superbly.

Chrysler and GM are eliminating thousands of dealerships. From comments regarding some of the discontinued dealerships….they did not perform with excellence. Our free enterprise system does not reward mediocrity. Of course not every dealer did poorly. There simply had to be major change in dealerships. If Chrysler and GM have declined in market share than there has to be a corresponding decline in dealerships. 

Those that remain….I trust will continue on with excellence!