Friday, September 30, 2005

Big Doesn't Always Mean Worse

The common theory is that getting bigger means getting worse. Think about it.

Boston Chicken was a great little chain serving family-style chicken. They went public, received a bunch of money, and started expanding very quickly. They changed their name to Boston Market and started serving meats other than chicken. The business started to deteriorate until it eventually fell into bankruptcy, only to be saved by McDonald's.

Krispy Kreme was also a great little chain. It originally only served the southeastern U.S. It was much different than any other doughnut company. The doughnut was good, but the experience of buying one was even better. They went public, received a bunch of money, and started expanding very quickly. The expansion created pressures that upper management had never experienced before. They had never cared about quarter to quarter growth or market saturation. The business has deteriorated to levels so low that bankruptcy is a viable option today.

What happened to these once unique businesses? They got greedy. Gordon Gekko may think that greed is good, but it is evil. Greed only ends once you have nothing else to be greedy about.

So, I ask myself, "Are my expansion plans greedy? Will expansion make us generic?"

Each new location will be in a new market. We won't saturate anybody but our competition. We won't lose our competitive spirit because our systems create a culture. We'll keep that culture just as long as we keep receiving customer feedback.

I don't make us different. Our name doesn't make us different. Our cleaning supplies don't make us different either. Our customers make us different. Customer feedback is the heart and soul of our business. Without feedback, we're Johnny Anybody. The great thing is that our customers want to help us get better. They want to rate their service and they want to recommend improvements in our services. Simply put, our customers make us different.

We're going to buck the odds. We're different today and we're gonna be different tomorrow. In our case, big means getting better. Our first customer will receive the same level of service as our millionth customer. All because of one five minute idea: pay-for-performance compensation.

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