Lagniappe is a French Creole term that I learned quite a few years back while living in the Southeast.  It means a small gift given with a purchase.  The original use that I can think of when I was young was when a bank would give away a free toaster for anyone that opened up a new account.  Today, of course, we see all kinds of gifts offered with a purchase in a variety of businesses.  This term also goes hand in hand with the Law of Value that was discussed a couple of weeks back in the Go-Giver blog post.  The restaurant industry is changing, and every restaurant out there has to fight and claw for every sale possible.  The question becomes what can we do as a company to give the “lagniappe” or little something extra to earn that business from our guest?

  • I was listening to a fantastic interview with Jon Taffer the host of Bar Rescue on the Entreleadership podcast a few weeks ago and almost went off the road taking so many notes.  He had discussed the idea of the third visit.  He talked about how the percentage of likely to return by a guest would increase from visit one to visit two and ultimately to visit three.  His key belief is that if you can get the guest to visit number three, you can become part of their routine.  Once you become part of their routine, you have a regular guest.  At each of the first three visits, his company would give a little lagniappe to get that guest to return.  On the first visit, their company would give the guest a red napkin.  This napkin would signal everyone that they all had an opportunity to make a great first impression.  The manager would also personally stop by and greet the guest during the visit.  At the end of the visit, they would offer the guest a bounce back coupon for a specific offer only given for a second visit.  Then when the guest would return with that specific offer they would welcome the guest back and again everyone would know that they could again make a great second impression.  Then at the end of the second visit, the manager would ask how they are enjoying the business and offer the guest another unique bounce back for the third visit.  To me, this idea seemed so simple yet so brilliant that I am planning to work this concept into my upcoming full team meetings.  How can we take all of our first-time guests and turn them into regulars?  What can we offer on each visit as a little lagniappe to keep them choosing us over the competition?
  • I think that this concept ties in nicely with the idea of building relationships with our guests.  Learning their name and remembering their face goes a long way.  One thing that always helps keep Culver’s on top is our hospitality.  Our hospitality is a natural point of lagniappe that we need to use to our advantage even more so than we currently do.  The strength of Culver’s lies in its dedicated owner-operators and great management teams.  I think that we have the ability to connect with our guests, unlike many other brands.  My challenge to all of our teams is that every manager should be spending at least 1 hour per week of scheduled time working either in the dining room or greeting and talking to guests cueing up in the drive thru line.  What a way to make sure that we are connecting with our guests and building that long term relationship.  As an owner/operator that should always be one of my main focuses.  As an owner, I have an opportunity to not only connect in the dining room but in the community as well.  If people in the community can put a local face to a business, it helps build that personal connection.  This idea ties directly into the idea that was mentioned last week about trying to have at least 1,000 loyal, raving fans turned into walking billboards for your business.  Imagine the power of momentum that this can create, especially in the digital age.
  • The last piece of lagniappe I would like to touch on is how we can apply this to our team members.  As the labor market continues to tighten are we doing everything that we can to be the employer of choice?  Does our team feel valued?  Does our team believe that we go above and beyond what is expected to create relationships?  As leaders we often want others to sign the dotted line to follow us, but we forget that we must earn that signature in our blood, sweat, and sacrifice.  As mentioned above, it is our team that sets us apart, and it is our team that has the power to make every visit memorable.  We need to remember to spend as much time and effort in building our relationships with our team as much as our guests.
  • Ask yourself what you are going to do on your next shift to offer that “lagniappe” and make everyone you come into contact with feel valued.

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