Book Review # 33 The Pumpkin Plan
Yesterday morning, I was reading this book while listening to Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable album vinyl from a 50 years old restored turntable and suddenly I realized the design of life like the design music is a marathon not a sprint. Nat King Cole’s songs has proved that.
Anyway, I pick this book out of the shelf at AsiaBooks mainly from it’s title and my curiosity towards it. It’s seems to be my lucky day again because this book is soooo good. I finish the whole book in one day, yep, that’s how good it is.
Like any other good books, it didn’t give you the perfect recipes to help you building a multimillion dollar businesses (which can definitely can’t be obtain through books) but it merely give the “idea” or the “seed” of the idea that with the right nurturing method, it will grow prosperous results.
This book comes with a lot of attitude which happens to fit me. Some of you that read this book might found it offend but keep in mind that we read it to be a guideline if you don’t like the concept, don’t implement it.
The main theme of the book are based on the idea that the “mindset roadmap” is much more important to the success of a company than the actual hard work itself. It’s means that you do not need to pull of that 24/7 stunt to be success. By all means, if you are doing the 24/7 stunt, it’s very likely that you are doing something wrong. Like I always mentioned, most of the startups still having hard time differentiate business owner from self-employed. This book will help guiding the direction in a step by step with examples on how and what should be done. If all steps are implemented successfully, you will be able to reach the entrepreneurship liberation (one of my favorite word of all time) i.e. you will exit the world of rat race forever.
The book give out tons of examples which is always good in all type of business books. It’s make things easier to digest.
First part focuses on the important of top shelf clients and how to identify them. Also, how to get rid of the life-sucking-no-profit clients as well. My personal warning, the first 50 pages might be a bit boring but it gets much more interesting after that. This is quite a unique characteristics for this book because normally it works the other way around.
Through the middle section of the book, it’s lay out more on strategy that should be put in place in your company, nothing fancy or technical just plain old mindset roadmap. In my opinion, most of us these days can let the simple basic truth slip our mind because we are trying to focus on something too complicated …. way too complicated. This simple strategy is a good reminder of what we should really be focusing on.
Let me put one example I really like from the book :
“ Let’s pretend your lifelong dream is to open a restaurant. You have always been known among family and friends for you culinary artistry. This is your chance to show the world. Put on that apron and pour yourself a drink. This in one way to pumpkin Plan your industry.
You run a restaurant that specializes in gourmet comfort food, the stuff your grandma used to make. You thought you’d be packing ’em in, every table booked with people dying for Granny’s Goulash. But instead, you’re competing with ten other restaurants in a two-block radius…. and not very well. Even though you almost always have empty tables, you’re working 19-hours days and borrowing money from your mom to adversities in the local Pennysaver.
You start with your assessment chart, basing it on the twenty customers you see most often. The Andersons, Blaine and Charlotte, come in three nights a week with their five kids–they’re so obnoxious, you waitstaff plays rock-paper-scisscors to see who serve them. Bill and Steve, the lawyers, bring in the clients for lunch nearly every weekday, dropping more on booze than they do on food. And of course there’s Mrs. Trumper, the sweet old lady who shows up every Tuesday and Friday at four-thirty for an early bird discount (you don’t have one) and always send her food back three times. Filling out your list and the three theater couples, the six entrepreneurs who frequently bring in prospects, and handful of couples who come out every Saturday for date night.
After you fill out the assessment chart, you know which customers make your life hell (hello, Andersons) and cost you money (talkin’ to you, Trumpet), so you cut them loose. Since it’s against the law to deny someone service just because you don’t like them, you’ve you to figure out what would make them want to stop coming to your restaurant.
You’ve had enough of broken glass, crayoned walls and noisy kids, and you’ve figured out that it’s not just the Andersons who have to go- it’s all families with kids. It’s not that families with kids are bad thing (you have two kids yourself, after all), it’s that families with kids are scaring away big money clients who want your restaurant to be a mini-vacation – delicious food couples with sophisticated conversations.
Since you usually don’t have much business before 8.00 pm you change your hours, opening for dinner at 7:00 instead of 5:00, well after parents are giving their precious bundles a bath. (Sneaky, but effective.) You get rid of the kid’s menu and ban stroller from the restaurant (Bold. Very Bold) Sure you are going to catch hell on the mommy blogs and forums, but you don’t want them there anyway, right? The Andersons are pissed, but they get over it, and move on to bug your main competition, two doors down.
And because you changed your hours, Mrs Trumpet hates you. She’ll “never eat in your establishment again.” Thuchdown! Your waitstaff is so happy, they buy you the cheesy “#1 Boss” mugs, high-five you a lot and vow not to use real scissors for rock-paper-scissors ever again.
You look at all expense related to serving families you stop ordering frozen chicken and fries, eliminated your crayons budget, watch you linen cleaning bill plummet, and stop running ad on local parenting rag. (Now that you’ve not borrowing money from her to pay for ads, Mom loves you too.) Since you no longer have to make room for strollers and high chairs, you add a few more tables to bring in more revenue. Nice.
Now that you have eliminated the group that bugs you the most and pays you the least, you can focus on your top clients. You decide that Bill and Steve were best clients ever, and the entrepreneurs are a close second. So you decide to focus on professionals entertaining clients. The next time Bill and Steve come in, you go up their table and ask if you could sit with them for ten minutes. (Your missions: get their wish list.)
You ask, “What d you wish all restaurants would do for you? How can we make your experiences here perfect?” You gave them a few ideas to get them comfortable with the idea that they can ask. “ For example, would you like to ability to set up an account, or make spacial request for wine or food?” You get their pet peeves about your industry. “What frustrated you most about restaurants?”
And this is where big, shocking, totally unexpected discovery were made. Bill and Steve point out that a lot of business discussions and sales go down in your restaurant. They prefer to meet clients at your restaurant because the food is great the location is ideal. They tell you that when they’re eating in your restaurant, they are almost always on the clock. The problem is, their clients frequently step away to answer their cell phones, and when they do, Bill and Steve are off the clock.
This is when they let you in on their big wish: could you make the restaurant a cell-phone-free zone? You tell them it’s a great idea, you’ll put up a sign the next day, and of course you get right on over-delivering on that promise. When Bill and Steve come in again, they notice the “No Cell Phones” sign on the door, and smile. They’re happy. You listened. You care. You want to help them put money in their pockets/
But you’ve also come up with a genius idea. You tell Bill and Steve that you’ve installed a device that jam cell-phone signals, so even if the clients disregard the “No Cell Phones” sign, they still won’t get calls at the table. Genius! Bill and Steve are thoroughly impressed–after all, you just boosted their billable time, big time. You went above and beyond them; they are customers for life.
You know asking for clients referrals is not often fruitful. So next, you ask for vendor referrals to other hospitality providers Bill and Steve love to use. One of the referrals you get is for a limousine company, Bob’s elite car service. You call Bob and ask him for a meeting to brainstorm ways you can help serve your mutual clients better.
Bob mentions that he has a car drop off a client at your place at least once a week. You had no idea. You start asking any and every question on how to make hid job easier.
“Do you need spacial parking spot? Do your drivers need a heads-up from one of our servers when Bill and Steve are about to pay the check, so your drivers can “magically” show up just as the client walks out the door? Would you like a little table in the kitchen so your drivers can grab a bite while they’re waiting? Would it help if we have a to-go cup of coffee or bottle of water for them?”
Bob has been in business for more than 25 years now, and he has never had anyone offer to help in the way you are. Not even close.
Now you and Bob are best friends, so Bob tells all of his drivers to recommend your restaurant to their high profile clients looking for a restaurant. Suddenly you’re pack with men and women in suits, ringing up big checks while they wine and dine clients over Grandma’s Goulash. See how that works?
This example might be a bit extreme on the cell phone part but I think it really works!
Keep it plain, simple and bold
Towards the end of the book, we learn more on the integration of the whole method and how to keep repeating it for the next business. This is really important because once you have fine the method you should be able to use it again and again. It’s what’s we called a scalable business model.
This part also talk about the disruptive thinking method which is very similar to model created by Luke Williams. You can more about it in detail from the book called “Disrupt” which is another very good book.
Don’t let the pumpkin graphic on the cover or the name fooled you, I believe that the idea behind this book is really a powerful one. Strongly recommended for business transformation.