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What a Paris restaurant reminded me about growing a business

A few months ago my family and I had a short break in Paris staying in a beautiful hotel just off the Champs Elysees. In fact the Arc de Triomphe was on our street corner!

Anyway, having taken our trusted Rough Guide to Paris with us, we decided to eat out at a restaurant called ‘Le Relais de l’Entrecote’  which was just a fifteen minute walk away. It had excellent reviews and seemed to be a fun restaurant that our two children would enjoy. What I didn’t anticipate was that it would remind me of some key business principles….not that going through them at the time would have particularly pleased my family you understand, after all we were meant to be relaxing!

The restaurant was really busy and buzzing and I reckon that was based on a few fundamentals of running any business.

Let me explain a bit more.

1. SPECIALISE

All the restaurant served was steak frites (steak and chips). That’s all….nothing else. They didn’t even have a menu. The only decision you had to make was how you wanted your steak cooked. There was a small selection of wines and desserts but as far as the main course goes that was it…steak and chips.

This meant that costs could be controlled: no need to buy in and then serve other dishes, I’m guessing that they could negotiate good cost prices from the meat supplier and possibly had a quicker turn around of tables. Also it made marketing far easier and clearer…basically ‘If you want great steak then come to us’

In business you can’t please all the people all the time…and that’s a good thing.

2. DELIVER A GREAT PRODUCT

What made the meal stand out was how delicious the steak was. Really tender and beautifully cooked. I can honestly say it was the best steak I’ve ever tasted and judging by the empty plates at the end I know my wife and kids agreed.

I always say to clients ‘Do one thing really well rather than lots of things poorly’ and the restaurant certainly delivered on this.

3. GENERATE MYSTERY

The steak is served in a secret recipe sauce containing various herbs and spices, which again is absolutely delicious. This secret recipe has, legend has it, been passed down from one generation to the next.

The end result is that the product is seen as slightly different from the competition and leaves the customer feeling they are getting something special.

4. CREATE SCARCITY

The restaurant only opens in the evening and has a no booking policy, so you need to get there early to join the queue if you want to make sure you get a table. We strolled up at least an hour prior to opening expecting to be one of the first there but ended up being about twenty back in the queue, a bit like in the picture above. ‘Wow… this must be good’ we thought.

People were blaming themselves for not getting there early enough!

‘Social proof’ in action. In other words, customers wanting to buy what others are buying before it’s too late.

5. HAVE GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE

All the waitresses were attentive, smiling and helpful despite having to put up with our strange mix of English and French (often in the same sentence!).

This is where it could have really fallen down and the shine been taken off the meal. But the customer service again was fabulous.

6. WORD OF MOUTH ADVERTISING IS SO POWERFUL

All in all it was a wonderful dining experience that will stay with us for a long while and guess what we’ve done? Told all our friends and family about it. Now I’m telling you in this blog.

So many sound business principles from a simple meal out in Paris.

How many of these do you use in your business?

As a side note I understand that ‘Le Relais de L’Entrecote’ restaurants are now open in the UK, in London and Manchester. I urge you to get along to one. Of course you could also go to Paris but remember to get there early or you may miss out!

 

2 Responses so far.

  1. Colin Kelly says:

    Great post, thanks Gary. Sounds like they’ve got a passionate fan base. What’s your view on them trying to build on that by selling merchandise? Seems to work for Hard Rock Cafe, but maybe risks cheapening things?

    • Gary Gorman says:

      Hi Colin.

      Thanks for commenting and glad you enjoyed the post. I get exactly what you mean about merchandising and know Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe do it particularly well but I think it may cheapen the image of ‘Le Relais de L’Entrecote’. It was pricier than Hard Rock Cafe and also frequented by a lot of local Parisiens (who obviously knew they were on to a good thing) rather than tourists, which makes me think that merchandising might not be appropriate. Great thought provoking comment though.

      Thanks again. Gary.

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