On Crappy Napkins, or Why Cutting Corners Never Benefits Your Business
Think about the last time you visited a restaurant and there were those sheer, brittle napkins in an old school metal napkin holder on the table. You desperately pulled clumps of them out in an attempt to create the thickness of a single napkin with which to wipe your sticky hands.
Now think about another restaurant where you had a soft but strong napkin with plenty of absorption power. It didn’t fall apart when you used it to wipe barbecue sauce off of your face.
Which memory has the better position in your brain?
Are You Really Saving Money?
The above illustrations are from the customer’s perspective, but as the business owner of this mythical restaurant, you’re probably on the side of the cheaper napkins. After all, if you can save a penny per napkin, that’s a ton of savings each year. Or is it?
While you may spend less on napkins, you may end up losing customers in your attempt to cut a few corners. Think I’m exaggerating to say that the quality of napkins is enough to send customers running out your door? Think again.
There are a million indeterminate factors that make someone decide to choose your business over another. Customers could walk out after being frustrated with your crappy napkins, or upset because the air conditioning wasn’t turned on, or annoyed at how long it took to get their meal. You can’t pin a person’s reason for not returning to your restaurant to any one of these factors, but you can bet they all contributed.
So the next time you have to choose between cheaper (and inferior quality) or more costly (but ultimately providing a better experience), ask yourself, Which would you prefer as a customer?
Consider The Experience You're Creating
Every business offers an experience, a chance for customers to interact with its brand, whether you run a restaurant or a marketing company. Service companies like my own may not have to worry about the whole napkin debate, but there are definitely ways to enhance that experience.
For my company, I have high-quality, skinny business cards that always get commented on, rather than the freebies that come from Vistaprint. I send clients gifts on my company’s birthday. I send handwritten holiday cards. All of this goes into the experience clients have with my brand. I will never cut corners on what I want them to remember about me and my brand. And you shouldn’t either.
For the brick-and-mortar store, experience includes everything from the music you play (go for middle-of-the-road, not hard rock) to whether or not there’s cacophony coming from the kitchen into the dining room. If clothes racks are crowded together too much, it takes away from a positive shopping experience. If cashiers are rude, people won’t return. Every facet of your business gets judged. Isn’t it in your best interest to ensure everything is top notch?
To succeed in business, your focus can’t always be on the bottom line. Sometimes investing in your business’s growth and secure future is as simple as buying the better napkins.