By Sam Burnham
I was back in Atlanta for an appearance on GPB's On Second Thought on Friday. Afterwards, I headed back over to Home grown GA for a Comfy Chicken Biscuit and also to talk to Kevin Clark, chef and owner of that establishment. After my review of Home grown, he had contacted me wanting to talk.
I can't imagine meeting a friendlier or more personable guy anywhere. He spoke of his employees and his customers as if they were his friends and neighbors...because mostly they are. He pointed out that people were happy to be there. It wasn't like North Korean propaganda. He was really stating the obvious. The dainty fork, coffee, and egg flowers on the logo are not some feel good facade. They represent the place as much as any image can.
But down to business. We talked about a well-known chain that can be found in the area, and likely in yours as well. This establishment, like many others, has signs reading "Please reserve booths for parties of two or more". He explained, in modern business spreadsheet style there is a formula to figure out how much money a seat is worth. One person at a table for four is costing the business three seats worth of cash. "I don't care about that" was his feeling on the formula. He stressed that he trains his employees to pay attention to the guests to the point that if someone returns, they get recognized and treated accordingly. For him, the business is not about formulas or spreadsheets. It's about people. If his customers are happy with their experience, he is happy. And as counter-intuitive as that sounds, he's running a successful business. He's making a living with happy employees and happy customers.
This all goes back to many experiences over my life that have taught me this simple business model: Provide a quality product or service, buy and sell via deals that are good for all parties involved, treat employees and customers as if they are important (because they are), and run an honest business.
This business model is not a secret. I'm not pretending to be promoting an idea I hatched in the drone of the tractor the other day. This is the business model that made Truett Cathy and Sam Walton very wealthy men. It's the business model used by the company that employed my dad in my youth. It's the business model a former employer of mine used to run a successful business out of a shed in his back yard for over 20 years without a business card, much less a web site.
No, what I'm sharing is not new. But it is the way of ABG to pick up something that hasn't been used in a while, dust it off, polish or paint it, and offer it up to anyone willing to look. So here it is, a fool proof business plan that has been used by people with household names for centuries but is quite neglected by large businesses in America. Use this plan. Do business with other people who use this plan. No matter how big your business gets, be too small, too friendly, too service-driven, too successful to fail.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire