Some people point horseshoes up to keep the luck in. Others point them down to shower good luck on others. Everyone has a choice to make. Either way, good things are going to happen when horseshoes are involved.
I was talking to Ken Wood and Page Thompson of Charcoal Cowboys this week (see BizzicsIdeas Instagram). Ken and Page have an intriguing story, both as friends and business partners. Ken and Page were novices on the Kansas City-style BBQ tour when they started. They studied, practiced, and perfected their recipes for years, along the way competing on the reality show BBQ Pitmasters and earning a perfect score on their beef brisket at a Nashville KC Style BBQ competition. They started getting calls for catering, with a few clamoring for a storefront. The storefront happened sooner than they thought. They were in the restaurant business, and, like competition BBQ for them at the outset, they knew nothing about it.
They believed their fare was so delicious that it would pretty much sell itself if they had a decent location. They learned quickly that cooking food is required to run a restaurant, but simply cooking great food will not make for a successful restaurant. Diners expect a dining experience. Ken and Page knew no other way to discern the right experience than to truly connect with their clients. It had to be more than communicating a menu – the tasty recipes and careful food prep that makes their fare distinct. There had to be connection, understanding, and action that built the right experience for their clients.
Ken or Page personally visit with every single client that comes in the restaurant. They ask about their preferences, ways that they can improve the client experience. Over two years, many things have changed with the Charcoal Cowboys client experience, most notably moving from self-service to a full dining experience. When clients feel respected for their opinions and see you taking tangible action on it, the bond goes very deep and is energizing for all.
Our goal for any business owner is to build and sustain momentum toward their greatest hopes and dreams for themselves and their clients. Client connection is one of Bizzics’ core areas of emphasis. Connection may seem like nothing more than a warm, friendly buzzword, but at Bizzics it is an exciting spot where physics meets chemistry.
Mass is one part of the momentum equation, velocity the other. We will save velocity for another day. Usually when we talk about “mass-ive” things, we think about sheer size. I cannot think of any businesses that do not want more clients that fit their target demographic. It reminds me of an old saying I found in credit discussions around clients with tight cash flow, “nothing that a few extra customers could not fix”. So true!
With momentum, it is not sheer size that matters. It is weight. We know in the physical world that the weight of anything has mostly to do with what is in the nucleus of the atom. And nuclei of different types of matter have different densities. So, you might want to think long and hard about what is at the very center of your business: your intentions, core value proposition, and even your leadership ability. No time for lightweights.
But client connection involves the interaction of two different things: businesses and clients. There are two different ways to combine substances: mixtures and compounds. I’ve been to enough business “mixers” to know that it is impossible to form an enduring relationship just mixing. The enduring relationships we want in business are the compound variety, in which bonds are formed among molecules of different matter, producing additional weight as they pack together, and generating a lot of heat in the process. Heat is energy, which will help with velocity, but again we will save velocity for another day. Every compound has distinct “packing” properties.
The effects of tight “packing” of molecules can be astounding when it comes to mass. We know of one substance in which the packing is so tight that one tablespoonful weighs as much as the Empire State Building! Any Small Business owner competing against much larger competitors should take heed. Your business can carry as much “weight” in your market as your largest competitors if you are intentional and effective at truly bonding with your clients.
Ken and Page have built relationships that transcend client status. Those relationships have proven to be their most effective marketing strategy. Their “horseshoe” program leverages strong client connections to build a diverse group of investors. Occasionally, Ken and Page identify people who are seriously bought in to what they are doing at Charcoal Cowboys, and they ask them if they would like to buy in. Literally. Investors get an honest-to-god horseshoe with their name attached to it with a brass tag, nailed to the store vestibule, where everyone can see. Their investors are so proud to see their names on the wall, and more importantly so moved to know the gratitude that Ken and Page have for their belief and partnership. The horseshoe inspires them to bring more and more clients. Each new client is a touchpoint for Ken and Page, and a whole new opportunity to delight and learn from them.
That’s what I call “packing it tight”, with a heavy shot of “giddyup” that rides out into the market. Chemistry is not just for Super Bowl Champs. Make it work in YOUR business.