It’s been a trying few days chez Jilly. We just completed week three of our home redecoration program, and while our builders couldn’t be more charming or hard-working, a serious problem outside their control meant they had to switch to twelve-hour days, so they’ve been arriving before 8 a.m. and leaving after 8 p.m. After ten days of not sleeping in our own bed, we’ve had a week without a functioning bathroom, and despite carefully taped plastic sheeting from floor to ceiling, everything – everything – that’s not boxed up and stored away is covered with a layer of fine dust. I have to do a major cleaning job each morning before I can put my contact lenses in.
I’ve been trying to write through the disruption, not with any great degree of success. Finally yesterday, as the team left for a well-earned day off and I sat cursing various abandoned attempts at a half-decent blog post, my husband said “Stuff it. Let’s go to Goodman.”
Four hours later here I am, equilibrium magically restored, full of quality calories and thoughts about what my favorite restaurant can teach me about romance writing.
When you visit Goodman’s website, one of the first things you see is their customer promise:
Great Steak. Great Wine. Great People. That’s Everything Covered.
It’s not the most glamorous game in town. It’s not a venue to see and be seen. But it quietly enjoys a large, loyal and smart clientele who repeatedly choose to spend their time and cash there. Which to my mind offers a lot of parallels with genre fiction. Here’s what I’m thinking:
Make sure your customers know what to expect
Their invitation couldn’t be clearer. If you’re in the mood for a steak, you’ve come to the right place and you can trust us to make sure you’ll have a great time. If you’re looking for sushi, or Michelin-starred dining, you won’t find it here.
Deliver a quality product
If you want to make a business out of something as familiar as steak and chips, you’d better have an outstanding product. The folks at Goodman are obsessive. They visit every producer they buy from – in places like Nebraska, Ireland, the Lake District, and Devon – dry-age and cut their purchases on the restaurant premises, and never, ever compromise on quality.
Everything on the menu is important
Goodman’s salads are fantastic. So are their vegetables. And their bread. The ice cream is out of this world. All those peripherals are there to support the core offering of steak and fries, but loving care and attention is lavished on each of them.
Don’t ever have an off day
Reputation is everything. No matter how many times you deliver the goods perfectly, the off day is the one everyone will remember. Don’t ever settle for less than your best.
Quality comes at a price. If you offer an excellent product, you don’t have to sell yourself cheap.
Build a community
Look after your staff, your suppliers, all the people you depend on to deliver a great end result. Get to know your customers and cherish them; they’ll be your best advocates, and they’ll keep a smile on your accountant’s face.
Rinse and repeat
We return to Goodman again and again, because it’s such a pleasurable experience. I’m not sure how much of their business comes from repeat customers, but I’ll bet it’s more than half – maybe much higher.
If I’m a little late with the comments today please bear with me, I’ll be catching up on some much-needed sleep. Then I’m planning to spend a nice, quiet builder-free Sunday with my new hero and heroine Cam and Mary, inspired by the good folks at Goodman.
Where did you find ideas, encouragement or inspiration this week?