April 2, 2019

The Beauty of Simple

I know things have been quieter around here than normal and part of that is due to the fact that I just – on Friday – finally got my paperwork submitted for my new food business license. Yes, after a few years hiatus from professional kitchen work – and assuming all the paperwork goes though – I’ll officially be back in the food business world.

In and amongst all the planning and preparing for this new business, as well as with the inevitable ups and downs life throws at you along the way (2 blizzards, 2 car breakdowns on the same down, some type of bug sweeping through my family like a hurricane, one dog ER visit…), I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about menus and what products would ultimately get offered up to my potential customers. This really struck home for me the other day when I picked up some pho soup for dinner and I realized that I’ve been going to the same pho place for close to a decade and never once have they changed their menu. I don’t think they’ve ever even offered any seasonal specials.

But you know what they do extraordinarily well – every single item on their very limited menu is delicious and I know I can count on being happy with my order. This strategy obviously works well for them since at last count they had a half dozen locations throughout my city so I’m not the only one who likes the product they’re turning out.

So from the customer satisfaction standpoint you have customers who trust you are going to provide them with a great meal. There’s also something beautiful about those customers knowing in advance what they’re going to order – because there’s never anything new on the menu we all go in with our orders already prepared. It’s kind of like comfort food in a way that chance to not have to think about our choice and know that it will be good regardless.

But also look at it from a business standpoint. This restaurant probably has a really solid handle on how much of any given dish they’re going to sell on a Tuesday in April, for example. What’s more, because there is ingredient crossover between their menu items, they have a fewer ingredients in inventory to buy, store, and prepare. While I don’t know for sure, my guess is that they also likely have a lower waste percentage too. All of which means more money in their pocket at the end of the day.

So while many of us are lured into the ‘fun’ part of entrepreneurship which includes creating new products we think our customers will like, there is something to be said – both from a customer and business standpoint – for a limited product line that knocks it out of the ballpark each and every time.

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