Come right this way, Sir.

Sweetgreen. Dig Inn. Cobblestone.

Remember these names: they’re three of the best eateries I’ve ever been to. Period. I’m sure we’ll see them in Australia soon.

They all have a few things in common. They all sell real food. Organic, grass-fed, hormone free. All the highest quality. And all incredible cheap.

How? Because they all have the same, highly systemised business model.

You start at one end of a long counter, and select your base: either greens, rice or quinoa. You take a step to the left as your bowl is passed down the line, and pick your meat: pulled chicken, braised beef, or meatballs; single or double serve. You take another step as your bowl is passed down the line, and pick your sides: garlic and chilli kale, collard greens, broccoli salad, grilled peaches, roast cauliflower, sweet potato or mashed potato. Pick two.

The whole process takes about 2 minutes, and at the end of the line you have real food that is fast, good for you, good for the earth, in a real portion size that you don’t have to wait for and doesn’t cost the earth (both figuratively and literally) – it’s just $13 for a portion that fills a large, hungry man.

The model works because you do things their way. You want the broccoli salad but don’t like cranberries? Well, order the kale instead.

You walk in, stand where you need to stand, order within the options you’ve been provided and at the end you have a great product with even better service.

Yet so many service providers allow themselves to be led by their customers. “Bespoke” is still a word people think of as valuable.

It seems to be an accepted part of the transaction in services to change what you do with every person you meet – whether that’s writing proposal after proposal from scratch, agreeing to reduce service levels to fit within a budget, or god forbid, tacking something on for free or cheap that isn’t even something you normally do, just to be agreeable.

Dig Inn would fail, and fail hard, if it worked this way. Service would be slow. Every alteration takes time, and money, and the customer experience would suffer.

Instead, they’ve created a great system where you can have a huge range of choices, as long as you stay within the options they’ve provided.

They say loud and proud “this is how we do things around here”.

The same thing should be said of your customers. It is critical that you own your process.

Maintaining professionalism starts with telling your customers how you work: You tell them what’s going to happen first, second and third. You tell them exactly what they need to do in order to successfully work with you.

Maintaining professional means to never reduce your service to fit a budget. It means controlling the process so you can deliver the outcome they need.

Define your process. And unashamedly tell people that this is how you do things. It’s for their benefit.

Best,

Jake

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