Companies need to differentiate themselves by focusing on and living why they are in business not just what they do and how they do it. Martha Hoover, the President of Patachou Inc., was the keynote speaker at the June lunch of the Indianapolis chapter of the American Marketing Association. Martha, a lawyer with no formal training in restaurant management opened her first restaurant, Café Patachou, in 1989. Since then she has expanded to 5 Patachou locations and has also founded Napolese Pizzeria, 3 locations, and Petite Chou Bistro. She is planning to open Public Greens, a restaurant that will give 100% of its profit to the Patachou Foundation, committed to providing farm to table food for at risk children, later this year.
Martha spoke on how to build a brand. The heart of her talk was understand why you are in business, communicate it transparently to your customers and your employees, live it with passion and enjoy the journey. The following are some key takeaways;
- Marketing is story telling. You need to own your story
- You need to have a clear vision to have success. It needs to be attainable. It needs to be written, explained and followed. Patachou had “vision 2010” which was achieved in 2007. They are now working on Vision 2020.
- Give customers a compelling reason to come back. According to Martha, “Always remember we want their business but there is lots of competition.” What is it about your product/service that delights the customer and will make them want to come back?
- Invest in your people & listen to them. People do their best work when they are part of a great organization. Make them a part of the decision making process.
- Create opportunities for your staff. Be 100% transparent. Invest in their future. They will become loyalists.
- Embrace Change. “We create our own path. Nothing stays in the same place. If we ran our restaurant the same way we did in 1989 we would be bankrupt.”
- Be patient. “It takes time to implement change. Change will bring something better in the future but it takes time to implement.” Don’t give up if at first you run into problems.
- Mistakes happen. Embrace the fact that you have identified an area that needs to be worked on. Don’t punish. Get better. Take mistake apart. Why did it happen? How can we improve?
- Hold people accountable. If same mistake continues after analysis take appropriate action.
- Concentrate on the “why” rather than the “what” or the “how”. Why are you in business? Why should people buy from you? Martha’s latest venture is Napolese Pizzeria, the first farm to table pizzeria in Indiana. The “why” is absolutely fresh ingredients that are REALLY farm to table. Martha’s various restaurants supports families on over 35 farms. The ‘why” connects you with communities.
- People know quality. They will immediately know the difference between delivering on a promise and just saying you do something. People deserve truth.
- Customers are looking for something that is real. They want to support companies that reflect their own values.
- Live your promise. Martha’s restaurants currently buy and use over 45,000 farm to table eggs per week! Before she opens a new restaurant she needs to find suppliers that can support her demand. This takes time. She said it would be impossible to rapidly expand her business without a robust supply chain that would allow her to be true to her core promise.
- Live your vision. A key part of the Patachou vision is to give back to the community. Martha said just writing a check wasn’t getting the job done. She formed the Patachou Foundation which is funding her own program to feed school children in the local area.
- Enjoy the journey. Have fun!
Next time you go to a restaurant ask yourself why did you go there? How did you feel about the food and service? Will you come back again? Will you tell others about your experience?
That’s what differentiates one business from another. That’s what will keep customers coming back and give management the resources to expand.
Until next time – all the best!