Success, 37 cents at a time

Remember the movie where Kevin Costner builds a ballpark in the middle of his corn field, prompting his dead father to play catch with him? Eventually hundreds of others to come to visit him, the presumption being that those visitors mean his family’s money troubles are over.

Get over it. It’s just a movie, albeit a fun one.

While it worked for Costner, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. You need to WORK for them. Even Walt Disney had to work to get people to Disney World (and the Disney folks still work at that).

According to statistics, a fair percentage of the new businesses opened in the U.S. are restaurants. One might speculate that this is because people think it’s about the recipe they have (it typically isn’t) or because they’ve have always wanted to own/run a restaurant because it looks like so much fun (more likely).

Word has it that about 80% of those new businesses fail in the first 5 years and about 50% of the rest fail in the next 5 years.

Wonder why?

There are typically a “popular” short list of reasons, usually most of them are not the root cause of the problem, but they all add up.

One of the big ones I see all the time. “Build it and they will come” syndrome.

On the other hand, there is my friend Pratik, who owns a gourmet pizza restaurant in New Joisey. One of the ways he has grown his business substantially is by increasing his catering revenue.

How did he do that? Putting his face on his business. Making sure his people get it. Getting rid of the ones who don’t and taking care of the ones who do. Delivering catering orders as if he was the “delivery boy” as often as possible, where he will get feedback that he might not get as the owner, simply because his customers assume he’s just a delivery boy.

Other times, he’ll visit as the owner in order to thank the customer, ask how their service and food were and see if there are any ways to improve their service.

And one of the most insidious, competitive, sneaky things he does? He sends a hand-written card to every catering customer, thanking them for their order.

Wonder of wonders, he almost always gets a 2nd and 3rd order shortly thereafter. All for 37 cents, plus the price of a card and 2 minutes of his time.

Who do you think that catering client is going to remember the next time they need to cater a meeting? The real person who sent them a hand-written card to thank them for their business, or the faceless business who sticks copy paper under the windshields every few weeks?

Many business owners wouldn’t bother to buy a card, much less write one. Maybe they think they deserve the business (“I earned it”, or “We work hard”). You don’t. You earn it, every single day.

Get out there and work. And remember the little 37 cent things that mean success.