Little Containers of Cheerios

I want to add to my love letter to Chick-fil-A.

Lauren and I were out running errands with Miles yesterday. It was getting close to dinner time so we decided to stop by Chick-fil-A. Those sandwiches are oh so good.

When we go out to eat, the moment that we always have to be prepared is the time between when we sit down and when the food comes.  We usually have to pull something entertaining  or distracting out of the diaper bag.

I was so pleasantly surprised as we were sitting down to see little containers of Cheerios sitting by where you pick up silverware. It was the perfect amount to distract Miles while we wait for our food.

All in all this little container of Cheerios may have cost Chick-fil-A a few cents. But it’s the little things that endear you to a brand. It shows that I can go into a Chick-fil-a as parent and they have my back. It shows they care. It part of why we keep going back and back and back.

It’s a challenge for me. What are the little things that I can do for my customers that take my customers from like to LOVE?

 

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No wonder Chick-fil-A is always busy.

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Lauren, Miles, and I were out running errands yesterday. Our tummies were all starting to rumble and were excited to see that a Chick-fil-A across the shopping center.  The last few times we went had been through the drive-thru. The kid had just taken a massive poop and we needed to change his diaper. So, we definitely opted to go inside.

When I got into the men’s bathroom, I was instantly excited. There was actually a changing table, which especially isn’t a given for a men’s bathroom. There was also spare wipes, spare diapers, and a stool for little kids to be able to reach the sink.  What kind of magical parenting paradise is this?

We got to our table and one of the employees offered to get us a clean high chair, which was puzzling to us. The one that was there was barely used. But the clean one came with hand wipes and placemat for the kid that stuck to the table. It’s like there’s someone at Chick-fil-A that’s actually been the parent of a young kid before.

Plus plus plus… the meal is decently healthy. It included grilled chicken, a fruit cup, and a bottle of reduced fat milk. I don’t feel guilty giving this to my kid, like every other fast food place. And it included an age appropriate toy. It was a book for kids 2 years and younger. 😀

And if all that wasn’t enough… there was an option, where you could order through the drive-thru and then one of the employees would setup a table with your food. You’d park and then enjoy the lovely meal inside.

At any given lunch time, you go into any Chick-fil-A and it’s HOPPING. Go into any other fast food restaurant and it’s up-in-the air, whether it’ll be a ghost town. I’m sure some CFO would cringe at the cost of all the extra amenities that Chick-fil-A is offering. But it’s the difference between in my relationship with Chick-fil-A and anywhere else.

With anywhere else, it’s just a transaction. I give you money. You give me food. But especially when you have a family, it’s never just about the food. The food is one of a hundred things thats running through my mind. If a restaurant can take 20 of those things off my plate, I get to actually enjoy the experience that much more.  Dang Chick-fil-A chicken sandwiches are good.  It’s like they’re on my side. And they’ll in the end get more of my money.

(Photo by Mike Mozart)

Remember the scientific method from elementary school?

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The other day I was thinking back to elementary school days. I can vividly remember being quizzed on the different steps of the scientific method. You ask a question, create a hypothesis, run an experiment, analyze results, rinse and repeat.

It’s funny how much this plays into my professional career twenty five years later. At work, we’ve done an incredible job building up social, email, and search as inbound marketing channels. We’re constantly asking questions and testing a hypothesis. Trying to figure out how we can squeeze out more juice.

It’s an exciting time to be a marketer. Every platform is providing a better and better analytics. And most of the platforms analytics are real time. You can try something and immediately get feedback from your audience about whether it worked or not, iterate, and repeat your test.

But more than marketing… that scientific method that we learned in elementary school really has become a lifestyle. You ask questions, try new things in life, see how it goes, analyze, iterate, rinse and repeat. I do it with every aspect of my life. It helps me as I work to optimize everything from an email marketing strategy to how to best teach my kid the things he needs to know.

It’s funny how much those early things play such a big important role in your life down the road.

Avoiding Restaurants Without High Chairs and Changing Tables

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One weekend, we took a drive up the Mississippi River. It’s a pretty drive and there’s some cute little towns. There was a winery with a restaurant. We decided to stop there for lunch.

When we get to the restaurant, we have the kid with us and ask for a high chair. They respond with “We don’t have high chairs. We’re a winery.” I was pissed but we’d already made our order and paid. So we stayed and he stayed with the kid in the stroller next to the table.  I felt bad for the other parents of young kids who were in a similar position and were struggling with their wiggly kids on their laps.

There’s a new fried chicken place in St Louis that I’ve been dying to try. But the restaurant has high top tables and 2 booths.  Having a kid in a high chair with high top tables doesn’t really work. Plus the restaurant is always crazy busy. It was a non-starter.

Having a kid changes how you see the world. What you look out for completely changes.  I wish there was an app that’d help me be successful.

The world of local search for businesses and restaurants is phenomenal. Yelp, Foursquare, and Google Maps are incredible products.  But I want more.

I want to ask those apps if the restaurant has high chairs. I want to ask if the restaurant has a changing table in the bathroom.  Is the changing table in both bathrooms or just the women’s? This knowledge would change what businesses I patronize.

Would you find this helpful?

 

Little things that make a big difference. 

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This morning Lauren and I wanted to go to brunch. It was before 10am. So, let’s be honest. It was breakfast. LOL. I had a hankering for Rooster, in the South Grand neighborhood of St Louis. We had tried going a different day but they were closed.

I looked online and was pleasantly surprised to see that they had opened at 7am. When your kid wakes up at 630/7am, if not earlier, brunch at 11am really doesn’t work. There’s no lazy mornings anymore.  Rooster being open at 7am was perfect, especially because it’s a hip spot where there’s usually a line. At 7-9am, it was practically empty, which is also perfect with kids.

At the end of the meal, we smelled something fishy. No it wasn’t the food. The food was amazing. Kid had gone #2 and needed to be changed. Usually this is an even bigger pain because you have to change them on a changing table that’s crammed into the most awkward spot, if there’s a table at all. What pisses me off even more is when they only have a changing table in the women’s restroom. Rooster had two spacious family bathrooms. It was like a dream.

By paying attention to the small things and accommodating to families (and really parents), Rooster got some word of mouth marketing. They also won them someone who’s gonna come back to their restaurant much more.

Tips for Flying/Traveling with a Baby

So my wife and I just took a trip to Washington, DC for the week and we took our 3 month old, Miles, with us. It was definitely a daunting notion to travel with a baby but it ended up working out really well. Thought I’d share some of my tips & observations.

  • Give yourself extra time.  Get to the airport an extra hour before you usually would.
  • We got a structured baby carrier and used that to carry the baby through security and on to the airplane.  It worked really well.
  • If you can time feedings, time it so the baby is going to sleep for as much of the flight as possible.
  • If the kid is going to be awake, feed him or put a binky in his mouth during take off and landing to prevent ear popping.
  • Much like a roll away bed, lots of hotels will provide you with a crib for your room.
  • Unlike at home, the crib and the bed were in the same room at the hotel. So we used white noise to help give is cover as we moved about a room.
  • When putting a car seat for the kid into the rental car, it felt more secure to lock it in with a seat belt than the actual car seat base. So bringing the car seat base wasn’t an issue.

What tips would you give?