Have you ordered the quesarito—a 1,450-calorie Chipotle burrito wrapped in a quesadilla? If not, it’s probably because this semi-mythical creation is part of Chipotle’s “secret menu.” Chipotle, In-N-Out and Starbucks are probably the three best-known chains to boast secret menus—although “boast” is not exactly the right word, since all three companies deny the existence of any secret menus (even though In-N-Out posts its “not-so-secret menu” on its website).
Think of secret menus as the ultimate in customer service, enabling each customer to feel part of a special, VIP clique. Want to take it even further? Let customers go way beyond a secret menu by offering endless customization. Chipotle says the basic four items on its menu can be made 60,000 different ways, while Starbucks claims its beverages can be prepared 170,000 different ways. (If you’ve ever stood in line behind someone ordering a half-decaf-nonfat-no-whip-soy-chai-latte, you don’t doubt it.)
How could the secret menu concept be applied to your business? If you’re a retailer, could you add special-edition items or limited-edition colors? Do you make them available to everyone, or just those customers who spend a certain amount of money? If you provide services, do you throw in something extra for those who know to ask—or spend a little more? Think about it and you’ll find the options are endless—kind of like Starbucks’ drink menu.
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