Strategy

“Home of the Throwed Rolls.”

home-of-the-throwed-rolls      Imagine with me that a friend in 1942 told you “Hey, I want to start a diner in the town of Sikeston, Missouri.” You might respond by asking a few questions, like “where is Sikeston,” and “how does that possibly sound like a good idea?”

Imagine now that your friend said “it is on a lonely stretch of highway north of the Oklahoma border,” and “because I expect that Elvis Presley, Jay Leno and Morgan Freeman will visit it.” Ignore for a moment the anachronism that your friend in 1942 would have little knowledge of Elvis Presley (who would have been 7 years old,) much less Morgan Freeman or Jay Leno. You would likely tell your friend “you are insane. Stop it.”

And you would be wrong.

In 1942, the Lambert family opened Lambert’s Café in Sikeston, Missouri. In 1976, Norman Lambert threw the first roll at a waving guest across the crowded restaurant, launching (no pun intended) the “throwed rolls” for which Lambert’s is now world famous, as proved by the all-star guest list including the three above and many more.

To be clear, Lamberts is not just a diner with rolls flying across the room. It is also a very well-managed restaurant with a focus on creating an overall remarkable experience for guests.

The point is that, while the obvious answer to “let’s build a diner on a lonely highway in Missouri” would be “no,” it’s not always about the location, or even the concept of a diner. It’s about the power of a family and team determined to create something remarkable, and the effort the world will go through to find them when they do.

Christian

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Strategy

Can I Quit My Day Job and Make…..

abcfbca1 As pathological encouragers of small agricultural business, Rachel and I are occasionally asked a variation on the following question: “Can I survive on a cottage business that sells scented candles? How about Merino wool, lavender oil, or bee’s wax?”

The answer is: “Maybe.”

Consider the following: How many dollars does the average American household spend on your future product? The answer to that question will help you figure out how many customers you need. For example, if you plan to sell pastured meat to customers who spend $500 per year, you need 400 customers to gross $200,000, netting a decent living wage after expenses are paid. That’s 400 names, addresses and Christmas cards you need to keep track of.

Meanwhile, a purveyor of fine candles might be lucky to sell $50 worth of product to a given household, requiring instead 4,000 customers to make a living wage.   That’s a lot more Christmas cards.

Local cottage business is easier with products like beef, dairy or jam, items that represent hundreds of dollars spent in a typical household.   Scented candles and other products that claim a smaller percentage of household income will require more customers, either from a high-volume store-front (think city) or a story-based online store with great photography.   If those appeal to you, you’re ready for the candle business. If you would rather sell to friends and family at the farmer’s market, you’re better off making cheese or bacon.

Christian

(PS.  Thank you all for following along with our ag-ventures on this blog.  We’re happy to see the growing crowd subscribing to learn from our mistakes instead of making the same mistakes at home!  Rachel and Christian)

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Strategy

What if the Customer is Wrong?

It was a drizzly day at the Dallas airport. The last man aboard a Southwest Airlines flight did little to hide his frustration with the seating process, elbowing his way across a row to the last open seat. In the process he left an oversize suitcase sticking out of the luggage compartment.

A flight attendant approached the man to suggest checking his bag. The suggestion stirred a debate that escalated until the troubled passenger punched the flight attendant, laying him out across a row of seats.

Was that customer “always right?” The answer is obviously “no.” It’s a scenario often described by former Southwest CEO Herb Kelleher to prove the point that the customer is NOT always right.

Other companies including Disney have followed in Southwest’s footsteps, acknowledging that the customer might be wrong. The result is a better, safer work environment for employees who, in turn, can create a great experience for the customers who ARE right, and gracious accommodations for the guests who aren’t.

Christian

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