Running at least an hour behind on my morning reading today. How can you jank your neck on a treadmill?? Oy. Regardless, that’s what I did, and I broke down last night and did something I rarely do: I took a narc. The Percocet put me out bigtime, and I didn’t regain consciousness until I heard Rousseau sneeze on the floor beside the bed at 7:00.
So anyway, to the wisdom. One of my many articles over coffee was about how the Five Guys burger franchise got off the ground. Founder Jerry Murrell said:
Customers initially gawked [in 1986] at the $2.19 price ($4.59 today, adjusted for inflation), but once they tasted the burgers they eventually came around.
“Some people said, ‘I’m not paying that much for a hamburger.’ And then we’d say, ‘OK, don’t pay for it, just take it then.’ And you know, in the 25 years we’ve done that, every single customer’s come back and paid it plus a big tip. And they became customers of ours,” Murrell says. “I think people will pay a little extra for food if it’s worth it.”
That really struck me, and I’ll tell you why.
It will come as no surprise to anyone that I have been thinking more and more lately of my *next* career. As many of you know, I’m leaning towards baking in order to supplement my pension when retirement comes. That, and maybe getting on with a university somewhere to supervise student teachers, or work in an office part time…anything but give studio lessons, pal. With regard to baking, I asked myself, “Do I believe in what I’m doing enough to give it away in order to sell it?”
I cover my cakes in buttercream made with real butter. I make my royal icing by hand, and will painstakingly decorate each homemade sugar cookie with it myself. The prices will reflect this formula, for sure. And if someone doesn’t want to pay, say, a dollar and a half for one of my cookies, do I have the confidence to say, “OK, just take it then”? Truth is, as much as folks may not want to believe it, in order to be a success, you have to be in business for more than just money. Scratch that. You don’t have to, but if you’re not, a crucial element is missing, and your customers will undoubtedly, at some point, sense it.
Therefore, your level of passion and the quality of your product — and, quite likely, the success of your endeavor — are inextricably linked. That’s a big bite to chew, because it involves great risk, far beyond the standard dangers of starting your own business. The Five Guys people believed in their product so completely, they were willing to step in front of a proverbial speeding train for it. Will I have that kind of courage? I hope so.
Interesting food for thought on a Sunday morning. And speaking of food, breakfast is ready. Come on over and I’ll give it to you for free.