We all strive for consistency. In sports, you’ll hear players and coaches say all they ask from officials is that they be consistent. The word choice is interesting. They don’t demand accuracy, they demand consistency. In baseball, for example, managers often don’t care if a pitch on the outside corner is called a ball instead of a strike — so long as it’s called a ball all day long and the umpire doesn’t change his tune from inning to inning. Your customers are the same. While perfection is, well, perfect, it isn’t what your customers are looking for. They are looking to get the same product and same service from you every time they visit, regardless of the hour, day, month or year.
If you’re a manager or franchise owner of a store that belongs to a large chain, like Pizza Hut or Little Caesar’s, your customers want the same pizza in Providence as they get in Santa Fe. If you’re a smaller independent, you can’t afford to be inconsistent, either. If you say you open at 11 a.m., you better be open at 11 a.m. every day. Sadly, one of my favorite pizza places is rather inconsistent. At times, the pizza is just the way I want it. I like a lot of sauce, and this place seems to go a little heavier on the sauce than the average Joe. Still, every once in a while I’ll take my first bite only to wonder if they accidentally gave me a white pizza! As a customer, this frustrates me. Maybe there’s a new pizza maker, I tell myself. Maybe they were swamped and had to make this pizza in a hurry. Then, everything I know about the industry comes screaming in my ear: There is no excuse for such inconsistency!
Items as high-tech as sauce applicators and as low-tech as portioning cups allow operators to put the same amount of sauce on every single pizza they make. The same goes for cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, etc. I’m not saying every pizza should be a cookie-cutter product. That would make the pizza world a boring place. Is it too much to ask, though, to expect a pizza ordered at 7:30 on a Friday night to taste and look the same as a pizza ordered at 2:30 on a Wednesday afternoon? If you answer this question with a yes, you’re in the wrong business. Contrary to popular belief, I do not think today’s customers are overly demanding. Sure, they’re tough at times, but they only want to be treated with respect and get what they pay for in terms of food quality. A smile, a warm hello, and a hot, quality pizza that tastes the same time after time will win you more customers than any amount of marketing or advertising.
A well-placed ad, after all, may get a customer in your door once…but it will never get them back a second time if you don’t live up to your end of the bargain. Here’s to creating consistency!