Sonder | When having a go is better than success
In a world of cookie-cutter franchises, sometimes the charm of trying is better than the soullessness of successful formulas.
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When having a go is better than success

When having a go is better than success

A recent experience taught me a valuable lesson worth sharing.

On a walk with the family along a popular beachside spot, we stumbled upon a tiny isolated cafe which was bustling. The place was essentially a large hole in the wall with enough space for a fridge, a sandwich toaster, a chalkboard menu and some random table & chairs scattered outside. The music was more Friday night club than Sunday beachside mellow. It had no name and there was one man taking orders, cooking, making coffee, serving and clearing tables.

The man looked focused, but not stressed. He clearly had more things to do than one person should be able to handle on their own. Despite this assessment, there were no other cafés around and we were hungry, so we threw caution to the wind and placed our order. The menu had no prices, so I’m sure I overpaid. The food took a long while, came in no particular order and was pretty average when it did.

However, despite all this I found myself impressed with this man and in awe of his operation. Here’s why:

  • He had found a prime location with no competitors
  • He was highly efficient with little overheads
  • He managed his customer’s expectations
  • He made the best of the resources available
  • He (most likely) made a healthy profit
  • He seemed to be enjoying himself

Above all else he was trying and he cared. His menu was similar to other cafés but he stood out by excelling at all the little things most cafés don’t do.

The lesson here for bigger businesses is obvious: Clearly demonstrate you are having a go, that you care and show how much you respect your customers. Remember AVIS? They built their success on “we try harder”. A valid position for an ambitious #2 trying to knock the leader off its perch. One of their ads from the 60’s has the headline: “Avis needs you. You don’t need Avis. Avis never forgets this.”

There aren’t many businesses nowadays so outwardly humble, customer-centric and willing to put their market position in the spotlight like that. Perhaps there should be.

In a world of cookie-cutter franchises, sometimes the charm of trying is better than the soullessness of successful formulas.