calm confidence, appreciation and
abundance mentality that are found in
any mutually rewarding relationship.
4. SUBSTANCE SELLS.
Glitz will only get us so far; to achieve
long-term business sustainability our
product actually has to be good—not
just have good marketing. In order to
get the emotional buy-in and passion
we’re looking for, those who buy from us
have to understand why our products
are distinctive, why they cost what they
cost and how they will make their lives
5. DEFINITELY SWEAT
Ideas are wonderful and all, but when
it comes down to the food, what we
serve does have to taste good every
day in the real world, not just in the
test kitchen. In order to make this
happen we have to watch the details.
All the time. In the food business,
maintaining outstanding quality is a lot
of work—and it can all come apart at
a moment’s notice. Just because we
made one good meal doesn’t mean the
next one will be good, too. All it takes is
someone forgetting to add the salt, or
serving tepid soup from a steam table
and before we know, a guest is having
a way-less-than-stellar experience.
the morass of the middle of the market.
7. IF THE FOOD ISN’T GOOD,
PEOPLE AREN’T COMING BACK.
Okay, maybe that’s not always true.
But at Zingerman’s, from the day we
opened back in 1982, we’ve believed
that the burden was on us to produce
something—food, service or, better
still, both—that would make customers
want to travel a long way to buy from
us. And it’s still true today. When we
score quality—we do it here on a 0 to
10 scale—we’re driving for the hard-to-
hit 9s and 10s at the top of the chart.
While 7s and 8s aren’t likely to cause
customer complaints—that’s the range
where people are usually perfectly
satisfied—we want to sell stuff that
leaves people talking and shaking their
heads in a good way.
While we never get it all right, and we
know everything we do can be improved
upon, it’s those 9s and 10s that have
taken us to where we are today. They
are also what make customers start
thinking about coming back not long
after they finished their lunch.
To be clear, in closing, I don’t think
anyone has to do any of the seven
things I’ve listed here in order to be
successful. But I do think these seven
steps can make a difference.
A few years ago I was in Calabria
visiting with a talented cheesemaker.
As we were finishing lunch, after
discussing the details of cheesemaking
and tasting a bunch of terrific cheeses,
he leaned over and said, “People ask
me if I believe in luck.” I paused, having
not a clue where he was going with this
story. “I tell them, for sure, I believe in
luck. But I find the harder I work, the
luckier I get!”
I’m with him. When we achieve all
seven of these steps, sales seem to
get stronger, the staff seems more
engaged and the bottom line tends to
look a whole lot better. I guess then that
seven really is a lucky number. u
Ari Weinzweig is CEO and co-founding partner
of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses,
which includes Zingerman’s Delicatessen,
Bakehouse, Creamery, Catering, Mail Order,
ZingTrain, Coffee Company, Roadhouse,
Candy Manufactory, Events at Cornman Farms.
Ari is the author of a number of articles and
books, including Zingerman’s Guide to Better
Bacon (Zingerman’s Press), Zingerman’s
Guide to Giving Great Service, Zingerman’s
Guide to Good Eating (Houghton Mifflin),
Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part
1 and Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading
Part 2. Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading,
Part 3; A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach
Guide to Good Leading, Part 4; A Lapsed
Anarchist’s Approach to the Power of Beliefs.
6. KEEP GETTING BETTER.
While we may have made great things
happen for nearly 30 years here,
there’s still no way we can happily
sell customers the same sandwich
tomorrow that we sold them yesterday.
Anyone who’s committed to greatness
in the food business knows there’s
no resting on laurels; if our food isn’t
getting better then we’re sinking into