Posts Tagged ‘Brand Loyalty’

Serving Memories on a Sizzling Plate

January 25, 2012

In an average year, we eat about 950 or more meals.  For me, many of those meals are eaten out from fast food to neighborhood cafes to award-winning restaurants.  To stand out and be memorable is no small feat in itself, but to become synonymous with both good food and good times is amazing.  Yet one brand has done just that:  Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

I still remember that first sizzling Ruth’s Chris steak…Dallas, Texas 1984.  When I close my eyes I can still taste it and my reaction to each first bite of a Ruth’s Chris steak hasn’t changed to this day.

Doesn’t matter which Ruth’s Chris.  I’ve eaten at locations in Phoenix, Seattle, Maui, Portland, Bellevue, Salt Lake City, Pasadena, Washington DC, Hong Kong and most recently, Park City.  Many of these were not one time visits and the experience is consistently memorable.

Ruth’s Chris has become our “special occasion” restaurant.  The day I signed the papers to sell Sleep Country USA I threw a party for a small group of close friends and family in the private dining room of the downtown Seattle restaurant.  Many birthdays have been celebrated at a Ruth’s Chris table.  Ask any of my 3 stepsons to pick a restaurant for their birthday or other special event dinner and it’s always their top pick.

When deciding where to hold the dinner in Washington DC to celebrate my husband’s 50th birthday the decision process went like this: “What is everyone most likely to order in any restaurant we go to?  Trevor: steak.  Connor: steak.  John: New York steak.”  and so on with the rest of the party.  “Okay, if we’re all going to order steaks anyway, why take chances?  Let’s just go for the place with great steaks.   That means the dinner will be at Ruth’s Chris.”  The group photo from that night was on our Christmas card.

Even a dinner with friends for “no special reason” becomes special at Ruth’s Chris.  From the fresh from the oven bread to the attentive service of the staff to the wine list with nice selections even in a mid-price range to the signature “sizzling steaks” to the after dinner specialty drinks, the drive for excellence shows.

So how do you become synonymous with your product in a customer’s mind?  It’s really very simple:  Consistently deliver exceptional goods and service.  That’s it.  Of course, I know all too well how difficult it can be to execute that “simple formula” on a day to day basis.  Even more so in a variety of locations.  Yet great companies do so and earn our loyalty to their brands in the process.

There was a quote on a restaurant wall I wrote down years ago that may serve as a good motivating motto for small businesses wanting to become the “Ruth’s Chris” of their product:

“It’s impossible to be 1000% better than every other restaurant (or any other type of business)…so let’s try to be 1% better in 1000 little ways.”

Coffee…or Iced Tea…to Travel

April 1, 2011

At the risk of being forced to move, I live in Seattle and I don’t eat seafood nor do I drink coffee.

That being said, Starbucks is a locally based company I am always amazed by.  Not only are their products great, their team is consistently of the “can do” mindset.

Despite not being a coffee drinker, I am a very regular Starbucks customer.  I have patronized Starbucks all over the world.  You see, I drink iced tea.  LOTS of iced tea and they have mastered the perfect glass of iced tea.

I also travel regularly and more and more hotel rooms have gone to single cup coffee makers in the rooms which makes brewing my own tea more challenging.  In Las Vegas, finding a coffee maker of any kind in a hotel room would be the equal to winning the lottery.

Last year, it occurred to me that since Starbucks makes both great iced tea AND had these nifty “Coffee Travelers” that maybe I could get a “traveler” of iced tea.  I called the Starbucks in the Hughes Center at Paradise & Flamingo in Las Vegas figuring a location near office buildings would likely have the “traveler” boxes.  Essentially, they are a foil bag filled with beverage and then put into a box with a spout for easy pour.  Each “box” holds about 95 ounces making it perfect for meetings or iced tea junkies such as myself.

I opened the conversation with “I know this is going to be an odd request but…”  The person on the other end of the phone paused for just a moment and said, “I’m not hesitating because we can’t do it, I’m just thinking what I will use for a funnel to get the tea into the pouch since it’s designed to be put under the coffee urn tap to fill.”

She then asked how many I needed (2), what variety of tea (black), sweetened or unsweetened and when I wanted to pick them up.  Sure enough, a few days later I stopped in on my way to the hotel from the airport and there were my iced tea “travelers” all ready to go.  They gave me cups, lids and straws and I was a happy, well-hydrated camper for the several days I was in Las Vegas.

Three times since then I’ve visited Las Vegas, each time with family or friends who also drink iced tea and the same location has been wonderful about making my special boxes of tea.  I call a couple of days ahead and tell them when I’ll be in and it’s ready.  By the time you are reading this, I’ll be sipping tea from yet another box of tea by the wizards at Starbucks.

What is brand loyalty worth to your company?  If you are part of a large organization, what is branch loyalty worth to you and your career?  I continue to call this particular store for my special order each visit not because no other location could or would do it; rather because we now have a history.  It’s that history which retains long term customers.


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