I recently ate at a restaurant widely regarded as having one of the best burgers in Dallas. The location is off the beaten path, the parking situation is rough and you always have to wait in line. But, they have great burgers and what on the surface might seem like arrogant actions by a restaurant because they can “get away with it” (since their food is so damn good) are actually better for the customer. A few examples:
You only have a few choices in what to eat: They serve hamburgers, cheeseburgers and a few other sandwiches involving cooked meat. No salads. No roasted turkey wraps. No fusion. Why this is good: Basically, they do a few things and they do them well. Everyone is well practiced in what they serve. Also, with fewer ingredients the food is fresher and they probably get economies of scale with their suppliers to keep prices lower.
You have to order a certain way: You can order your burger one of two ways: pink or not pink. No medium rare, well done, or “just a little pink in the middle.” Why this is good: You keep complexity out of the kitchen, which speeds up delivery and keeps your customer service experience consistent. When you order a certain way it will always be that way. You aren’t putting the cook in a situation where they need to interpret your order.
You have to wait in line before getting a table: When you walk into a crowded counter-order restaurant, your first instinct is probably to send someone from your party to go grab a table. At this place you can’t do that. Why this is good: As a guy with operations experience I should have figured out sooner why this makes a lot of sense. If you are able to find one by “grabbing a table” you occupy that table for not only the time you are eating, but also the time you are waiting in line. So, when everyone does this you increase the likelihood of not finding a table next time you get your food because of all the table “campers.” If you match the flow at which orders come out of the kitchen with the flow of people coming out of the restaurant, everyone always gets a table after they order.
Successful businesses can sometime “get away” with things by the mere fact of their successfulness, but often it is probably benefiting you as the customer in a way you might not even realize. Like the place that doesn’t accept credit cards, but keeps prices low.
I’m getting hungry just thinking about all this.