By Tom Grandy, Founder
If you have never read the book “Who Moved the Cheese”, you should. It’s a classic, especially in our current pandemic environment. The book relates the experiences of several mice that one day realize the cheese they had been provided every day is suddenly gone. Some waited for things to simply return to the way they were but it never happened. Others adapted in multiple ways. The message is clear. Adapt or die.
One does not need to drive too far down the street to realize the effects of the pandemic. Small, locally owned, businesses are boarded up along with many familiar national brands. The real eye opener however, is how restaurants have or have not reacted.
There is a Golden Corral in our small town. It had a sign out front that said “Temporarily Closed”. It was there for months until one day the sign was gone and the building was up for sale. Everyone knows you can’t run a buffet restaurant in the middle of a pandemic, right? Wrong! One of our more local restaurants is famous for its terrific salad bar. They printed a list of all the salad bar ingredients on a piece of paper and placed a copy at each patron’s seat. The customer simply checked off what they wanted, and the waitress made the salad for them. They are doing just fine.
People drive from far and wide to eat at the Moonlite-Bar-B-Q buffet. They adapted by servicing cafeteria style. I am guessing that move not only saved their business but also suspect it greatly reduced the past waste when hungry customers overfilled their plates and left large portions of food that later had to be thrown away.
Texas Roadhouse wasted no time providing drive though service, even selling raw steaks so customers could take them home and cook whenever they wished. That became so popular they had to discontinue it because they couldn’t fill the needs of their carry out customers.
Then there is Chick-Fil-A. You have to love and appreciate them. They have ALWAYS been busy. In case you are unaware of it, Chick-Fil-A has the highest annual gross sales per location of any fast-food franchise, by far. That is pretty amazing when you consider they are closed 14% of the time (closed on Sunday’s). Is it because they honor the Sabbath? Another discussion, for another time.
They adapted too. Initially they had a person walking along the drive through to take your order. Before long, at least at our Chick-Fil-A, they had three people walking along taking orders. Initially you paid when you got to the window. Not anymore. They added a person (again walking along the pickup line) to take credit cards and ANOTHER person that accepted cash payments, while giving change! The line continues to wrap around the building but now it nearly never stops. It’s kind of like watching a slow-motion movie. By the time the customer reaches the pickup window everything has been taken care of. The customer is simply handed their bag of food, with a smile and a kind word and off they go!
I think the point is clear – adapt or die. Our friendly mouse, that waited for the cheese to return, ended up very disappointed. What have you changed in your business since the pandemic began? With the right adjustments, you will not only survive the pandemic – you will prosper. If you are dying anyway, try something different. It might just change your business and perhaps your life.!
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