I love using our neighborhood doughnut shop to illustrate a great principle to keep it simple. Not that I visit very often, but when I do, the experience is extraordinary! Our little shop always has a line out the door and around the building. In case you’re thinking they have a large marque and marketing strategy, they have neither. They are a little hole in the wall, nothing fancy at all. In fact, there is one small glass display case and a counter for orders.
Meanwhile, fancier donut shops in the area have spurts of business, but I’ve seen nothing like this. The only other place I’ve seen quite like it was at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon. I feel there is a very basic and organic reason for the long lines in this small shop: they focus on one main thing. The quality of their main basic doughnuts are some of the best around.
For instance, take their apple fritters. They are crispy around the edges, not too sweet or doughy. In fact, my husband surprised me with one the other day and I couldn’t help but eat the whole thing. When evaluating calories, they probably include more than two meals’ worth, but are definitely worth the splurge. In fact, I’m getting the urge for one as I write this piece. Their cinnamon rolls, glazed donuts and maple bars are the same. Baked to perfection with just the right touch of glaze, sugar and cinnamon. They also come out hot and fresh and it’s worth the wait to obtain one right out of their oven.
On a Sunday morning before church, you’d better be there plenty early. Most everyone in our area knows of this little shop. You can see piles of pink boxes exiting the front door. There are several simple principles I will call The Doughnut Shop Principle.
PRINCIPLE ONE: Keep it simple. Focusing on the basics and doing them very well is a secret for many successful businesses. For our doughnut shop, whether it’s a glazed, cake or apple fritter doughnut, all are baked to perfection and very fresh. They stay within the basics with no fancy designs or recipies and it works.
PRINCIPLE TWO: Lines out the door attract more customers. Have you ever driven up to an unfamiliar restaurant and noticed very few cars in the lot? You probably decide to go somewhere else—I definitely do! For our doughnut shop, the lines out the door attract more customers. The same thing was true with Voodoo Doughnuts when we visited. It’s customary to wait 45 minutes just to get one of their sweet delicacies, and we did just that mostly to say we did it!
PRINCIPLE THREE: Top Quality is not an option. It is a necessity. All it takes is one time for a product to be bad to lose a customer. When my husband took me out for a birthday dinner one year to a fancy restaurant, my fish came back burnt on the bottom. Even though they replaced my dinner, we have never gone back to that restaurant as the picture of the burnt fish is in the forefront of my memory.
PRINCIPLE FOUR: Repeat business is a key to growth. We have a saying in the music business that you never work with a Food and Beverage Manager just once. Same holds true for Performing Arts Presenters, agents, meeting professionals and many others that book in speakers and artists. Touching base with current customers and contacts, especially in the beginning of each year or season, is an easy way to keep working with business flowing to you just from those you know.
Here are a couple questions to ponder in evaluating all this: In what way can you simplify your business and offerings? If you are offering too much, it can be confusing and there is the danger of a reduction of quality. Keeping it Simple is a good place to start. After that, the other principles can be applied with a strategy that is unique to you and your business. I’m rooting for you!