Marketing Lessons From the Lucky Old Souls Food Truck Epic Failure
As writers we know when building our platform that a combination of a poor quality product combined with pitiful customer service is a recipe for failure. We are always striving to make our product (our writing) the best it can possibly be. And we know that our interactions with our readers are the foundation of growing our readership.
Our job is to create a base of loyal, raving fans who will help us spread our message. We know that if we let our readers down, if we disappoint them, if we produce poor quality work, they will just as avidly spread that message too. Our reputation online is our best asset. If we blow it, we may never get it back.
I had an experience this weekend with the Lucky Old Souls Burger Truck, from which I’ve drawn some important lessons, so I hope you can avoid making these critical errors in your own business. And yes, writers are in business!
Cultivate Repeat Readers
I’ve been eyeing the Lucky Old Souls food truck for the last several weekends at my local organic farmers market. But the line always seemed to be moving very slowly so I never had time to try out their grass-fed organic beef burgers. This weekend I was really hungry and wanted to sample what they had to offer, so my partner did our grocery shopping from the local farmers while I joined the rather lengthy line at Lucky Old Souls.
It should have been a red flag right from the beginning, but the rumbling of my empty stomach won over the long line that made very slow progress toward the order window. I began to chat with the others in line around me, wondering if anyone had tried the food from this truck before. Would this wait be worth it? Was the food really that good?
Amazingly, not one person in line had ever eaten from Lucky Old Souls Burger Truck before. There was no one to say “This food is great. You’ll love it.”
I found that a little surprising. Why were there no repeat customers?
If you’re a writer you don’t want people to only buy your first book, you want your first book to be so good that people will eagerly pre-order all of your following books because they already know that they love your work. You will cultivate rapport with these readers so that they will be excited to learn that you’re working on your next project. They’ll spread the word to all of their friends, they’ll leave thoughtful comments on your posts, they’ll share your work on Facebook, they’ll retweet your articles.
You know that these relationships are the foundation of your success, and you’ll work all the harder to produce your best work because you would never want to let them down.
Don’t Make it Hard for Your Readers to Buy From You
When I finally got up to the window to place my order, the young man at the window asked me what he could get for me. I got halfway through my order when he said “We’re so backed up, I have to wait to take your order. It’s going to be a while.”
What? You’re so busy you can’t even let me finish giving my order?
It would have been far better to have taken my order in its entirety than to cut me off halfway through. Because now I’m more than a little frustrated, and I shouldn’t have to jump through ridiculous hoops to order from a food truck.
Take a look at your sales process. Are you making it easy for people to buy from you? Or are they frustrated by your process and give up in despair? Are you losing them at the last minute when they were all ready to break out their wallets?
Go through every step of your process. Is it easy to find your contact information? Are people making it all the way through your process without giving up? You need to make sure you’re making it easy for people at every step of the way.
Create Efficient Systems
While I stood, as patiently as possible, waiting for the young man to finally be able to write down my order, I began to understand exactly why the line had moved so agonizingly slowly at Lucky Old Souls. Every time an order was finally prepared, this young man would find the corresponding ticket in the stack hanging above him. But each time he pulled out a ticket for food that was ready to be served, the entire stack of tickets would fall out of the hanger all over the counter.
What a mess! While I was standing there waiting, this happened about 5 times. An order would come up ready to be served. The counter guy would try to find the correct order slip, but the whole stack spilled across the counter and down on the floor. And each time, the counter kid would then have to pick them all back up and rearrange them back into that holder. It would have been funny if I wasn’t already so frustrated.
You need to make sure that you’ve created efficient systems, both for your customers as well as for you. Do you schedule your writing time every day and make it a priority? Or do you haphazardly grab whatever time you can amidst your busy day?
Do you make it easy to read your work?
Do you make it a point to present your readers with efficient pathways to interacting with you? Or are you making them frustrated with your disorganization?
Don’t Make Your Readers Wait (Especially if Your Product Sucks)
Finally! After waiting for over a half an hour in this line, I was finally able to give the young man my order, only to be told it would still “take a while” to get my food. I looked around me at the many people who had been ahead of me in line to see that every one of them was still waiting for their food. Oh well, I’m committed now. I’ve already invested so much time into this that I don’t want to give up now.
Another half hour has passed, and the people around me waiting for their food are growing quite impatient. Our grocery shopping has been finished long ago, and we are hungry and ready to move on to the rest of our day.
Finally! My name is called. I take our packages across the street to enjoy our food at a bench in a little park overlooking the market. I eagerly unwrap my burger and take a large bite. UGH! Not only is the burger raw, but the meat is tasteless and unseasoned. The so-called signature Lucky Old Souls sauce is just ketchup (albeit homemade) mixed with mayo.
I just invested over an hour of my time, spent a ridiculous amount of money for an overpriced tasteless burger, and dealt with an incompetent counter person for mediocre RAW food? Now that is a shame! And I’m not at all happy
To be successful as an author, as a writer, or as a business we need to devote ourselves to creating epic, high quality products, whether that is a book, a blog post, a presentation, or a conversation with one of your readers. Give every task your best effort. Do not accept mediocre. Your reputation depends on this.
Yeah, you might serve up epic products every other day of the week, but if you allow even one day of accepting mediocre, you can be sure that none of the good stuff will matter. Your disappointed customers will all be talking about the day where you let your standards slip, the day that you thought your slipshod efforts would go unnoticed. Trust me. This will come back to haunt you.
Slipshod, mediocre work looks like you don’t care. And if you don’t care about the quality of your business why should we?
You must be exceptional. You need to stand out in a crowded marketplace by being remarkable. When the reason that you’ve got people’s attention is that your customer service is appalling or your product is horrible, your business is doomed to fail. You want your customers raving about how good you are, not telling everyone they know how horrible your product is.
Accept Responsibility for Your Mistakes
I took my disappointing, RAW burger to the back door of the truck and asked the guy cooking if he could make me a burger that wasn’t raw. Instead of saying “I’m sorry, let me make you another one right away,” this guy became rude and obnoxious.
Saying “that’s not raw, we serve our burgers rare.”
And then “If you really want me to replace that, you’re going to have to wait until I’ve taken care of all of these other customers.”
First you’re going to argue with me, then you’re going to try to tell me that a bloody, cold piece of meat is really a nicely cooked rare burger, and THEN you’re going to suggest that I wait another half hour at least for you to fix this?
Are you kidding me?
I was thinking to myself that the owner of this truck would be appalled at the way his employees treated their customers. I later discovered that this surly fry boy IS the owner.
A business owner who treats his customers rudely, who argues with them, and who refuses to make the matter right cannot possibly stay in business for long.
No wonder there was nobody in line to eat at Lucky Old Souls Burger truck who had ever eaten there before. No repeat customers raving about how great the food was. In essence: no raving fans. This is no way to build a sustainable business.
Learn From Your Critics
I threw my raw, tasteless, unseasoned burger in the trash and went home very disappointed. I had invested a lot of time, spent a ridiculous amount of money, and dealt with rudeness from this business. My valuable time and my money had both been treated with disrespect.
And I began to think of the business lessons that can be gleaned from this experience.
I knew that if this was my business, I would want to know that my employees were doing a poor job of creating raving fans to build my business brand. I would want to know that someone was doing something to ruin the reputation that I had worked so hard to build.
So I located the Facebook page for the Lucky Old Souls burger truck, and I left some constructive feedback about my experience. It was while I was looking around this page, that I discovered that the obnoxious fry cook was actually the owner of the business.
Not only did he delete my comment from his page, he banned me from being able to post again.
We need to learn to answer our critics as well as welcome our supporters.
When someone leaves what feels like a negative comment at something I have written, I like to take this as an opportunity to learn and to grow, and examine what I wrote to find ways that I can make it better.
Was my writing clear? Did I really say what I meant to say? Was this my best work? Or was it mediocre? Does this person have a valid point? What can I learn from this? How can I be more remarkable?
Is your business remarkable? How are you standing out from the crowd?
Have you made any of these mistakes in your business? How did you use it as an opportunity to be exceptional? Any other lessons you can see from this experience? What are you doing to create Lifetime Clients?
Do not follow the business model of Lucky Old Souls Burger Truck. In a very short time you will be out of business.