There’s a friend of mine who owns a cafe and they had a problem. They were slow one night of the week. In fact, most of the retail businesses in the area were slow on the same day and many of them just closed that day. Why bother staying open when nobody’s coming around?
Except he wasn’t satisfied with one night of no business and having an off season so he did something about it. In the case of his business, he started having live music on the slowest night of the week. So, basically, he significantly raised his costs on a night when hardly anybody came in to the business. Seems crazy, doesn’t it?
It seemed crazy to me. And when I went in there the first few times when the bands were there there was nobody there - just like before. So there’s a huge increase in costs with very few, if any, results. But he had a plan. And he was consistent. He kept going. And the word started to get out.
After a few months people started coming and enjoying the really terrific bands that he had in his cafe on the slowest night of the week. And after several months he found that his numbers were rising, just as he had expected.
Nowadays if you don’t make reservations on the formerly slowest night of the week you basically can’t get in. The slowest night is now the busiest night and there are always full houses. We’re in a seasonal tourism destination but this night of the week you’ll have difficulty getting in without a reservation any time of the year.
I asked him once if there was a secret to the success of these busy nights and he said it was simple. Consistency.
While he was racking up the expenses of hiring live music when nobody was listening he was also establishing a pattern. The slowest night of the week is the best night of the week to go there. Go on this night and you’ll hear some great live music. Consistently.
This is the secret to places like McDonald’s. Well, it used to be. You knew that, going to a Mickey D’s in the midwest or in New York or in Hawaii or in Shanghai, China, a terrible cheeseburger and fries is going to taste the same. Heck, there was even a scene in the movie Pulp Fiction about the Big Mac in France. Consistency.
Remember when going to a McDonald’s meant consistent, fast food and clean restrooms? I remember as a kid that we would purposely stop at McDonald’s restaurants on road trips specifically because their restrooms were always clean. Consistently. I’ve noticed that the restrooms in McDonald’s of late are barely a step above the blue rooms in most places so I no longer stop there on road trips, but then I’m likely dragging my travel trailer behind me anyway so there’s always a clean restroom and a drink of water tailgating me.
Being consistent can make a huge difference in how people perceive you. If the owners and the team behave and operate in a consistent manner, you’ll establish a pattern. If, every time you experience a business you get the same results, the word gets out.
After a while of doing something of having something on hand you get known for that. That’s what the Hokey Pokey is all about. Think about national brands that have a reputation for something. And think about what happens when your experience is inconsistent with your expectations based on consistency. We’ve talked about what happens when what you do ain’t what you did.
Getting known for something takes time unless it’s a real gaff on your part. And if that reputation is for lousy service or poor product, that can be a death knell for some businesses.
Whatever your business consistency is certainly a factor in your success. Being known for something and reinforcing that at every opportunity is the key.
Sort of like these Monday Morning Marketing blog posts. Every Monday at 8am. Which might be why so many thousands of you have signed-up for this. Thank you.
Oh, and my friend with the restaurant has now become so successful on the formerly-slowest night of the week that this is spilling over into other businesses in the area, who are staying open later and offering things consistent with what those customers want. Not bad, for the slowest night of the week.