A friend of mine is an Indian restaurateur. He makes a mean curry and his tandoori chicken is to die for. He’s been in the game a long time and knows his market well. He’s a great innovator and regularly tweaks the restaurant’s layout, menu and offerings to ensure it doesn’t get stale. As a result the ambience is relaxing, contemporary and (in my view) wonderful. Not surprisingly his revenues increase strongly every year and he attracts rave reviews.

I asked him recently why he has been so successful and for so long. He wasn’t sure but he mentioned that his customers consist almost exclusively of “locals” many of whom have dined at the restaurant for years. When pressed further he told me that what drives him is to be the No 1 Indian restaurant within a 5 kilometre radius of his location. He said that if he can do that he knows he will succeed in the long term.

He emphasised that he doesn’t care if he is rated the 20th best overall restaurant in Melbourne or even the 3rd best overall Indian restaurant. All that matters to him is being the best in what he defines as his market – the best Indian restaurant in the surrounding six suburbs.

This is a clear lesson in focus. He doesn’t try to be something he isn’t. He is truthful and the experience he delivers through his restaurant is genuine and authentic. This reflects his own ethics and personality. He never takes his customers for granted and they know it. In a world of dining options his customers trust him (and return regularly) because he NEVER lets them down.

There are some important lessons here for any sized business.

The first is to only concentrate on the one, or possibly two, thing(s) that you can do better than anyone else. To achieve this type of excellence you have to solve an existing customer problem quicker and better or more cheaply than your competitors. You’re wasting your time if you’ve got a ’me-too’ business that doesn’t have a clear and valuable point of difference that resonates strongly with the market-place. Many businesses don’t and they keep adding more (mediocre) products and services to their offering hoping to cover up the fact that they’re not very good at anything in particular. They over-kill on “range” thinking this is better than finding and focusing on a small number of things they can do really well. It doesn’t work.

Secondly, you need to deliver your product into a market that you can dominate – maybe not straight away, but eventually. Most of the time this will involve finding a niche (or micro-niche) that has been ignored, un-noticed or neglected by the rest of the market. While the niche might be narrow (from a product perspective) it should nevertheless have a large pool of potential customers that you can tap into. This is important. The best place to find these types of niches is in sectors where customers are currently being under-served or over-charged (or both).

Whether you operate an Indian restaurant or run Apple the important thing is to have aspirations to be the No 1 player in your market. The No 1’s attract the best customers, suppliers and staff. They have the most impact and they change people’s lives.  Hell, isn’t that enough reasons to aspire to want to get there?

Article By The Bull 

Image by Ken Lo