Tag Archives: customer service

Put Big Mama’s Picture on the Business Card

By Jeff Beals

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I originally published this article six years ago in March of 2012.  The star of the article, Patricia “Big Mama” Barron, passed away yesterday at age 76.  She was a bigger-than-life personality who made a positive difference in my hometown.  I enjoyed interviewing her and periodically chatting with her in the years since.  She was an amazing woman.  I hope you find the second release of this article interesting and enlightening…

When Patricia Barron first became a grandmother, she wasn’t ready to be called “grandma” or “granny.”  Such labels were way too old fashioned for her.  After all, she still felt young and had a lot of dreams left to pursue.

In some African-American families, the name “Big Mama” is affectionately used to describe a grandmother, but more than that, it’s a title of honor given to the family matriarch.  Such was the case in Barron’s family.  Once she became “Big Mama,” the name stuck, and there was no going back.

When you meet her today, it’s as if she has always been Big Mama. Everyone calls her that whether they’re related to her or not.  With her charming personality, welcoming nature and motherly persona, you immediately feel comfortable using such a friendly, informal title.

After a 30-year career working for the telephone company, Big Mama retired from Ma Bell and was ready to start the next chapter of her life.  It was time to pursue a lifelong dream: to be a restaurateur and owner of her own restaurant.

She developed a love of cooking as a little girl observing her grandmother prepare Sunday dinners.  In her early twenties, she studied culinary arts.  As her family grew, Big Mama loved preparing large meals for relatives and friends.  It wasn’t uncommon for 30 or 40 people to come over for dinner.  As she says, “I love to feed people.”

It only made sense that Big Mama would consider opening a restaurant upon her retirement. But she didn’t want to open just any restaurant.  She wanted to bring her grandmother’s old recipes to life – oven-fried chicken, collard greens, stir-fried cabbage and sweet potato pie.

What’s more, she wanted to open her business in economically challenged north Omaha, an urban, predominantly African-American quadrant of Omaha, Nebraska.  Big Mama hoped her restaurant would help breathe new life into the neighborhood and provide needed jobs for workers who could use a second chance.

While it was an exciting concept and a noble idea, it was not an easy sell to reluctant lenders, who had no confidence in funding a restaurant business in north Omaha.  Perhaps more surprising, lenders were hesitant, because Big Mama was 65 years old.  How long would she run the business?  Could they count on her staying healthy?

“I had experienced discrimination in my life, because I was black and because I was a woman,” Big Mama told me, “but I had never been discriminated against because I was old!”

Undeterred, she gathered her resources, relied on her faith and leaned on her network of friends/family to open Big Mama’s Kitchen on a youth services campus that was once a state school for deaf children.  It was hard work, but she did it.

Five years later, her restaurant is doing well.  She is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner six days a week.  Her famous sweet potato ice cream is now stocked on local grocery store shelves. At age 70, Big Mama is loving life as an entrepreneur and plans to keep feeding people until she’s 100.  She now makes a living doing what she loves, and at the same time, she’s doing her part to help rebuild a community that has experienced so much disappointment.

Right about now, you’re probably thinking this story feels good, but it’s actually about to get even better.

You see, Big Mama’s story is not just motivational, it’s highly instructive.  Big Mama offers many lessons for those who wish to succeed in business.

Regular readers of this column know that I believe in the power of personal branding and what it can do to build businesses and strengthen organizations.  When people who work inside an organization become “famous,” the whole organization benefits.

Big Mama’s Kitchen has great food and great service, but much of its success is due to the owner’s personality and the personal brand she has built.

Awhile back, she sought the counsel of a marketing firm.  It turned out to be money well spent, as the consultant gave her a great piece of advice: “Big Mama, put your picture on the restaurant’s logo. Put your picture on your business card.”

At first, the modest Big Mama wasn’t comfortable with the idea, but she eventually agreed to give it a try.

The new logo is brilliant.  For one thing, Big Mama believes it’s good for African-American customers to see her face.   They can see that an African-American woman is running a soul food restaurant.  But a very large percentage of her customers are white, and most of them drive many miles to dine in her restaurant.  Her image resonates with those white customers too.  She is the personification of a “Big Mama.”  She is the face of her business.

Big Mama’s personal branding efforts are paying off as she has become a celebrity.  She is the local queen of soul food. Her restaurant has been featured on The Food Channel, The Travel Channel and the Sundance Channel.  People have been known to board an airplane, fly into town, eat at Big Mama’s and fly home the same day.  Her spicy “Afro Burger” was front-and-center on the popular television show Diners, Drive-ins & Dives.

People who visit the restaurant come for the food, but you can see it on their faces when they walk in – they look around the room hoping to catch a glimpse of Big Mama, the woman who embodies the restaurant.

Granted, if the food and service weren’t great, the restaurant wouldn’t still be here.  But quality alone is often not enough.  There’s so much competition in this world.  There are so many ways a business can fail.  By building a personal brand and attaching it to your company, you benefit.  Everyone benefits.  People are the portals of profit.  We are much more comfortable doing business with someone than something.

Like Big Mama, your widely recognized and highly respected personal brand can set you apart from your competitors.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events this year. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events next year!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-637-9300

info@jeffbeals.com

How to Develop and Maintain Raving Fans

By Jeff Beals

Have you ever had a raving fan? Does your organization have raving fans?

In 2004, Random House released a book called Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles. The book was intended to help companies improve their customer service. The authors’ central message was that you need to go above and beyond, because “satisfied customers just aren’t good enough.”

That book is part of a breadth of publications designed to help companies and individual professionals do a better job of pleasing customers. In fact, we often hear executives spurring their employees to focus on providing “customer delight” as opposed to the mere standard of “customer service.”

This all makes sense to me. Certainly, companies benefit when they go all-out to please the customer, but having people who love you and are willing to tell everyone about it, goes beyond just customer service. You can also create raving fans of yourself, people who “cheer” for you as an individual professional.

Instead of “fans,” I call them “champions.”

Champions are people who champion you and your cause. They love you and your company. They are your fans, the people who would run through a brick wall for you. They could be personal friends, distant admirers, current or former clients, current or former referrers. They could also be influencers of past clients who you converted in champions.

Even if you have a lot of champions, you could still use more. Those individuals and organizations that have engaged champions and sent them out into the world get more opportunities. A large group of champions on your side is like having a personal marketing and sales staff without having to pay the salaries and benefits.

But champions don’t just appear out of thin air. They are developed. They must be created and then maintained. That means you should have a part of your marketing plan focused on how to deliberately develop and maintain champions. Part of that plan would be an on-going communication plan for champions that would include mailings, electronic communications, phone calls, and most importantly, personal visits. Yes, networking is a great way to find, develop and maintain champions.

To convert someone into a champion, you need to make him or her feel very special. Here are some ideas:

  • When you are in front of a person, make him or her feel that nobody else in the world matters more.
  • Spend time with key people socially, congratulate them on their successes, and help them celebrate their victories.
  • Don’t let a moment of truth – an opportunity to strengthen a relationship – be wasted. Jump on that opportunity and grow that relationship.

It also helps when you surprise champions with valuable information when they’re not expecting it. Send them referrals whenever you get the chance. Go out of your way to introduce or connect them to interesting people. Treat them with respect and demonstrate integrity consistently.

If you do these things, you will develop a network of champions who will protect you and your organization.

As the old saying goes, “you can never have too many friends.” The same thing applies to champions.

Jeff Beals shows you how to find better prospects, close more deals and capture greater market share.  Jeff is an international award-winning author, sought-after keynote speaker, and accomplished sales consultant. A frequent media guest, Jeff has been featured in Investor’s Business Daily, USA Today, Men’s Health, Chicago Tribune and The New York Times.”

Here’s Why Should You Choose Jeff Beals as Your Next Speaker:

“Jeff Beals has presented four different topics at five of our internal events in 2016. At each event, the audience of commercial real estate principals and agents was completely engaged and motivated the entire time. Jeff facilitates his training sessions in such a way that each member of the audience was able to relate and understand how to apply it every day in the field. Jeff is brilliant, and we have hired him to continue speaking at our events in 2017!” – Lindsay Fierro, Senior Vice President, NAI Global, New York, NY

“Your workshop was a huge experience for our attendees by giving them the opportunity to improve their work in the critical environment in which we are living today. Your talent as a speaker and your qualities as a person made the difference during your time with us. I would certainly recommend you to anyone who asks.” – Ana Paula Costa, Educational Planner, Febracorp, Sao Paulo, Brazil

I’m in Phoenix and had breakfast earlier this morning with our semi-retired sales representative who is doing some continued work for us here.  He attended your sales meeting last week and told me that in 43 years of selling, you were the best he had ever heard.  Thanks for a great experience.” – Drew Vogel, President & CEO, Diamond Vogel Paints, Orange City, IA

“Our corporate partnership team had great takeaways regarding how to network smarter while also understanding the importance of our personal brand to current and prospective partners. Jeff does a great job weaving in real-world examples and how you can apply his teachings to growing your business and building long-term partnerships.” – Jason Booker, Senior Director of Corporate Sponsorships, The Kansas City Royals Major League Baseball Team

+1-402-917-5730

info@jeffbeals.com