When you’re so good you can be awful
This morning I met a friend for breakfast at a quaint, non-chain breakfast place. And though it’s a diversion to the story, I have to say I’m never impressed when I show up for a 6:30 breakfast to someplace that doesn’t open until 7.
Anyway, we completed breakfast and went up to the cash register. And we both, simultaneously, dropped debit cards on the counter at the same time we saw a sign that said ‘no debit or credit cards.’ Ironically, though I almost never carry a checkbook, I had one of my business checkbooks in my manpurse (laptop bag).
So as I’m writing out a check, I asked the gal at the cash register if they ever have people who can’t pay. She said, “Yes, seven or eight times…,” and I didn’t hear the rest because of general noise. I said, “A month?” She said, “No, a day.”
So here’s the analysis. Good food. Prices that reflect the good food and apparent demand, corroborated by my buddy saying they have lines on weekends and the above link to public commentary. They’re open from 7am to 3pm, and they’re closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, indicating that owners aren’t worried optimizing every hour of the day. Clearly there is demand that most business owners would kill for. It makes me think of a story that Stephen Covey tells about a locally famous clam chowder house that changed owners, who optimized for short-term profit and didn’t pay attention to fundamentals until they’d lost their lustre.
I don’t care how good you are, the world is fully of stories of great things gone sour when they let basic stuff slide.
Message to one old pancake house: consider the cost of ~150 customers a month getting an embarrasing surprise at the cash register.