Paul Bunyan would love this!!
As I was checking in at the front counter of the Best Western Plus Kings Inn in Vancouver, B.C., to extend my stay for a second night, I overheard a guest who was checking out raving about the pancakes he had enjoyed as part of their complimentary breakfast offering. I don't often hear people rave about pancakes. He was saying something about a pancake machine. "I love pancakes," he said. "I would love to have one of those machines in my home." I couldn't imagine what he was talking about. A few minutes later at breakfast, I dished up some oatmeal and eggs. Then I noticed this "machine" off to the right with a handmade sign that said "pancakes." I took a closer look. (Please see the attached photo). I remember being enthusiastic about pancakes as an adolescent boy. Anytime my mom said, "How about some 'flapjacks' this morning?" I was extremely excited. Who would have ever thought that there would be a way to improve upon making pancakes? My mother had a heavy cast iron griddle, about 24 inches long, that covered two burners on her cook stove. Our Wolf range has a French top and a built-in griddle we seldom use. I remember watching my mother and grandmother pour pancake batter onto the cast iron griddle, but I've never seen anything like what you'll see when you check out the attached photos. To operate the pancake machine, all you do is push the "on" button and then another button to indicate how many pancakes you want (you can have as few as one or as many as ten), and the pancakes just keep dropping out onto your plate, like a copy machine.
Most of us have seen the waffle makers which are common in complimentary breakfast offerings. The problem with these things (I never used them) is you have to pour in the mix, close the machine, push the button, wait for the bell to ring, turn it over, push the button, wait for the bell to ring, and take it out. Look at all the steps in that process. It takes time and interrupts my breakfast. It's not what I consider a convenient breakfast offering. But now,
with the magic pancake maker, you simply push a button, put your plate at the end, and wait a few seconds for the pancakes to come out.
This "pancake machine" is an example of "order of magnitude" breakthrough technology. Quality is in the eye of the beholder; quality is more than conformance to specifications. Quality, as we understand the concept today, is meeting and exceeding our customer's expectations. All companies are learning the importance of securing the customer's loyalty. To earn this enthusiastic endorsement, you must do more than meet customer's expectations; we must exceed customer's expectations. What I called in my book, Repeat Business – 6 Steps To Superior Customer Service, "Going the Extra Mile." There's never a traffic jam in the extra mile lane. This is how you distinguish yourself from your competitors. Today you must find ways to solve problems, find solutions to problems the customer doesn't even know they have. So the challenge for you is to create an innovative breakthrough, solve a problem the customer doesn't even know they have, meet a need they don't know existed.
Can you imagine people choosing to return to the Best Western Plus Kings Inn in Vancouver, B.C. just to use the pancake machine again, or show a friend they're traveling with the pancake machine? I can. What a unique path to competitive advantage.
To remain in the game, you will create "order of magnitude" breakthrough, turn customers into raving fans, and secure long term competitive advantage.
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