Friday, May 02, 2008

Sometimes Less is More

I went out to an upscale "casual dining" restaurant (Cheesecake Factory) - and just wanted to grab some lunch from somewhere without a drive through (for a change).

The people were very nice, the surroundings and ambiance was terrific. Then I get the menu. This thing was (literally) 21 pages long! It was so big - that it actually had advertising in it. Like a magazine.

There were about a million choices in every category: Appetizers, Lite Fare, Soups & Salads, Sandwiches, Pasta, Steak & Chicken, Entrees, Desserts, Beers, Wines By The Glass, Wines, Mixed Drinks...

Ummm... all I wanted was a club sandwich.

Luckily - on page 14a, subsection 4, paragraph 8, line 13 - I did manage to find a club sandwich.

Now, I don't know about you - but I'm the kind of guy who orders the same two dishes from a particular restaurant every time I go there. I'm not huge on "experimenting" on a new dish. For me, what I like is what I like.

I stuck to my guns and the sandwich was very good (the portion size was as big as my head - and enough to feed a family of 5 in Holland). But, it took me about 10 minutes (and a basket of yummy bread) to plow through all the choices.

The food was good, the experience was good - and maybe next time I'll try something else...

Now contrast that to In-N-Out Burgers (a hamburger joint here in California and Nevada). They have a menu of two things: Hamburgers or Cheeseburgers. The only variation is how many patties you want and whether or not you want onions on it (you also need to request pickles if you like).

They have one size of drink, they have one size of fries. They have 3 kinds of shakes (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry). That's it.

Easy. Consistent. Yummy. You know what you want even before you're at the counter (or drive through order station). And because there are only a few variations - they can crank out absolutely fresh, made-to-order food in record time.

That got me thinking about all the other ways where having too many choices can paralyze the sale - or worse - leave potential revenue on the table. It's our jobs as business people to make sure that our offerings are clear to our customers - and that we make it easy for them to say "yes".

Like almost everything in life - choice is great... in moderation.

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