Monday, January 30, 2012

How a $7 Hamburger Can Make You or Break You

Back in the 60s my grandfather owned one of the most successful restaurants in South Central Pennsylvania— "Hotty's Cottage." It was named for my grandfather's nickname Hotty ( a knickname he received for being Hot Stuff on the drums) and the fact that he made it appear to be a cottage in the middle of the woods although it was right on main street in Chambersburg.

The reason his restaurant was so successful was his obsession with one thing: the customer experience. I'm not kidding. Whenever my grandfather cooked something it was like art. And he would just stand over a steak exclaiming "Oh now that is gonna taste good." If he was alive today he could have been on one of those cooking shows.
Saturdays were pretty amazing at Hotty's. People would come from upwards of 200 miles to eat at his place. Crab soup was a specialty, along with an affordable surf and turf and of course, mountainous cheeseburgers with steak fries, and steaks that sizzled as they were carried to their tables.
One day when I was helping him at The Cottage, he pulled me aside to gave me a piece of advice that I use even to this day...

Bradley, you can charge $7 for a hamburger and fries. And guaranteed, you WILL get a lot of people in the door. But, and here's the big picture, after you add up the cost of your waitstaff, electricity, gas, printed menus and all the little pieces of overhead, you will go broke even though your restaurant is packed."
I was 10.

What I didn't know at the time was my grandfather was grooming me for business. Real business in the real world. At the end of the day, regardless of whether it is a New Economic Order, or in cyberspace, or you believe we are all in this economy together, EVERY business is in it to make a profit.

Here are a few companies that forgot that a customer experience is what drives sales:, and eToys. Great ideas that just didn't get traction.

We have a Digital Divide in most companies around the world. Gen Y, Gamers, Millennials all have a new way of doing business that leaves The Industrial Age methodologies in the dust. But at the end of the day, the one that makes a profit, is the winner. Google knows that. Netflix knows that. And so does Amazon.

And another piece of my grandfather's wisdom echos in these companies brand... "The customer's experience is what we care about Bradley."

And BTW: Hotty's Cottage is still's just called The Cottage these days.

Thanks for reading,

Brad Szollose

Brad is the award winning, international bestselling author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia: Multigenerational Management Ideas That Are Changing The Way We Run Things ISBN-13: 978-1608320554

As a Baby Boomer, Brad grew up watching the original Star Trek series, secretly wishing he would be commanding a Constitution Class Starship in the not too distant future. Since that would take a while, Brad became a technology driven, creative director who co-founded one of the very first Internet Development Agencies during the Dot Com Boom—K2 Design. As a Web Pioneer, Brad was forced to invent a new management model that engaged the first wave of Digital Workers. Today, Brad helps Fortune 500 Companies close the Digital Divide by understanding it as a cultural divide—created by a new tech-savvy worker...and customer.

Mr. Szollose also writes a monthly column on business and marketing techniques that reach Generation Y for A Captured Mind Newsletter and is part of The Mind Capture Group faculty.

"I just had my mind blown..." - A.S., Vistage, New York