Looking for ways to change your business? Consider the unlikely origins of Stacy's Pita Chips.
During the company's early days as a street vendor in a sandwich cart in Boston, Stacy's had a predictable problem. If you sell food on the street during a Boston winter, how do you keep people lined up waiting for their sandwiches instead of skipping the line for a faster (and warmer) option?
You can't really serve the food any faster once you get to a certain point of efficiency, so you have to think of something else. Stacy decided to hand out pita chips to her customers as they waited in line to keep them fed and, more important, keep them waiting.
It wasn't long before the customer feedback prompted Stacy to focus on making the pita chips and close the sandwich cart. Many of you probably know how that story turned out: Stacy eventually sold her business to Frito-Lay, which announced at the time of the deal annual sales of around $60 million for the company. So what is the lesson in Stacy's story for any small business, aside from the fact that pita chips can be a surprisingly great business choice?
Sometimes your biggest opportunities come from the smallest things.
The real question you need to ask yourself is whether you are doing enough of the small things to keep your customers engaged and happy, and which of those things you might be able to better leverage for your business. The most common form of this is the free gift with a purchase. This is a time-honored marketing tactic. The classic example is the toy that comes with the Happy Meal.
I recently purchased a printer that came with an extra ink cartridge inside. Since it was not advertised on the box, the gift delighted me and left me feeling much better about the buy. Free gifts are like that. Whether expected or unexpected, they offer an emotional surprise that can build a strong connection between customers and vendors
Why is that positive feeling so important? Because once you have made a sale, your challenge is to do more than make sure that customer comes back; you need to get them to tell their friends. It was Stacy's pita chips, more than her sandwiches, that had customers talking up her business.
When it comes to changing your business, it might be the smallest things you do every day that have the biggest impact – like the lollipops handed out after your child's haircut. So pay attention to them like Stacy did, and never minimize their impact. You never know where they may lead you.