It's October and that means my three daughters are about to temporarily trade their princess videos for the Halloween classic: "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." After rewatching it, I realized that today's foodservice industry could learn a few things from this Peanuts tale.
Consumers remain extremely value conscious but they define value as something more than providing a product at a desired price level. The experience a customer has plays a key role in the consumer value equation. As such, it is important for foodservice operators to dress for success and that begins with the most important three feet in the house: the tabletop (page 18). You don't have to be the best-dressed kid to get good treats but you do need to avoid showing up to the party wearing a sheet with multiple holes cut into it because you are not sure what you're doing.
In "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" who had the best Halloween? Snoopy, of course. He got to play dress up and went on an adventure to do battle with his imaginary nemesis the Red Baron. Over the course of the night he visited Paris, engaged in a dog fight and more. In the meantime, the other children spent their time making sure they all got the same kind of treats and that they were not left off the invitation list to Violet Gray's party. The lesson here: stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and focus on your business. It can open up a world of possibilities that allows your company to become truly best in class in the eyes of your customers.
The Great Pumpkin is Not Coming. It's up to you to make your business special. Nobody's going to do it for you. Linus spent most of his Halloween in a pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive to make his night memorable. What made it memorable, though, was the fact that nothing happened. The same applies in the foodservice industry. Regardless of your political beliefs, it's not the greatest idea to sit on the sidelines waiting for the results of next month's general election before planning a course of action.
The industry can only spend so much time tinkering with prototypes or re-orchestrating the buy side of the business. Regardless of what happens, it is time to get to work and it seems to me that the foodservice industry is getting ready to do just that: as of last month, the restaurant industry added 298,000 jobs during the past year, according to the National Restaurant Association. Further, the industry has recorded 14 consecutive months of same-store sales growth. Understanding and embracing statistics like these can help elevate your perspective and develop a clearer picture of the industry as a whole and where your business falls on the spectrum.
As we get older and our responsibilities expand, it is common to look for more complex answers. But by taking a few cues from our childhood we might be able to find the way through the most confusing and uncertain of business climates.