When I was growing up my father lost his job as foremen in a printing shop in the mid 70’s. With 5 kids and a wife he was put in a position of figuring out how to provide for his family. He bought, repaired and flipped (at the time I thought he was buying old houses and reselling them, now it’s called flipping) a few houses in the first year. This was a family event and all the kids that were old enough to carry a garbage bag or swing a hammer had a job after school and weekends.
Then out of the blue my parents bought a pizza business, it had been closed for several years. I remember thinking this is different; I was about 14 at the time. My dad always liked to bake and my mom was a great cook, but Pizza??? Bradley’s Pizza was born and it’s still there, but not owned by anyone in the family.
We all worked together and cleaned the place for weeks before opening. My parents had always encouraged the kids to cook, but now we were doing it for paying customers, we hoped! It was a real transition for our family and a very stressful time. Business was very slow the first year, but my dad never changed his positive thinking or his work ethic. He cleaned the place the same way no matter what we had for business, “We only get 1 chance for a first impression” and he wanted to be the cleanest restaurant in the area.
My mom worked at the pizza shop and still stayed very involved with the kids and the house. I look back and say to myself how did they do it. The Pizza shop was open from 11:00AM- 10:00 PM and the day started at 6:30 getting everyone off to school. There was homework, school activities and everyday life along with a restaurant that took over 12-14 hours a day to run.
My dad would always say, if we give customers a quality product they will do our advertising for us. That’s when I first heard; “if the customer likes what we do they will tell a friend or 2, if they don’t they will tell everyone they see”. I remember, in the early days, my dad parking his truck in front of the pizza shop, because “people don’t stop at a restaurant that no one is at”.
Within 2 years they built a business from nothing to a booming pizza & grinder (Hoagie, submarine) business. I remember in the early days on Friday nights we were hoping to see 10 customers and 2 years later answering the phone and telling customers their Pizza order would be ready in 1 ½ hours on a Friday night. I still think back to the days of cutting 50 pounds of onions for a Friday night. And that damn kitchen sink that was designed for people that were much shorter than me. I tried to tell my sister it was designed for her, but I still think I spent more time than she did at that sink.
The point is my father, who never graduated from High School, and my mom who was a college graduate (a Physical Education Teacher) knew that in order to build their business they needed Promoters. My dad would remember a customer’s name, where they worked or their kid’s names. He would remember what a customer ordered the last time they were in and would ask how they liked it? And is there anything we could do to make it better this time? These people became promoters and they spread the good word. Every business needs promoters, not just customers.
What’s your business’s 1st impression; does your business have promoters?