Fish Sandwiches and Small Business Marketing

An Interrogative Fish (Sandwich) Story

molly's restaurantThis isn’t a restaurant review, but it could be. I’m going to start with a story about a wonderful meal that I enjoyed yesterday with beautiful wife. We went to a favorite lunch place. It’s called Molly’s, after one of Little Richard Penniman’s song titles, I think. Located in downtown Macon, GA, the restaurant used to cater to a decidedly female clientele. Frilly decor and frilly food – it wasn’t for me. About a year ago, we heard that the menu had changed and we decided to try the restaurant again. Oh, yeah. The son of the original owner had joined the business and both the food and the look of the place had changed. Molly’s made the list and we’ve never looked back, nor has the rest of the town. It’s a full house at lunch.

But that’s not the story.  Yesterday’s special was a fish Po’ Boy with mango cole slaw. I’ve always been a fan of anything New Orleans, and looked forward to a fresh hoagie roll and something good inside.  The cole slaw was wonderful, but the sandwich was just ok. There was nothing to complain about. Service was excellent, but the Po’ Boy wasn’t notable.

Here’s where the marketing story starts. The owner’s son was at the cash register when we checked out. He’s talkative and friendly, and we usually chat for a minute before leaving. Yesterday, he asked the right question, “How did you like the special?”

I answered with something non-committal and he was tuned in. Looking me in the eye, he asked, “Seriously, what did you think?”

I told him the truth. “The bread was great, but the fish had too much batter on it. There’s room for improvement on this one.”

The response was perfect, “I really appreciate your honest opinion. That’s what we need to make everything we serve here excellent. I’m considering several New Orleans sandwiches. What would you think about an oyster Po’ Boy?”

No Magic Marketing

I didn’t tell the owner that I’d be writing about our short conversation, but the way he handled things was a perfect example of the kind of informal market research that small businesses can and should do every day. The restaurant was busy, but he took the time to listen and engage. He received one opinion that was of some small value, but he also cemented a relationship with a customer who will come back and will tell others about his restaurant. And he showed that he really cares about the quality of his business and what his customers think. The lunchtime crowd indicates to me that word of mouth is already working for Molly’s and it will be no surprise to me when his little restaurant expands.

There’s certainly no magic or sophisticated technology required for this kind of marketing and there’s really not much else to write about it. Good food aside, it’s simply refreshing to encounter a small business owner who is tuned in and intent on doing things the right way. Beautiful wife and I will be going back to Molly’s in the near future, and if you find yourself in Macon, GA at lunchtime, you should eat there, too!

DP Marketing Services helps small businesses plan and implement marketing strategies that work. Please get in touch if you’d like to talk – there’s no charge for first conversations and we usually come up with at least a couple of good ideas.