Let me ask you, when you drive up to a restaurant and the parking lot is full and there is a line outside the door, what is your first thought? How about when you drive up to a restaurant and can see inside but it is nearly empty? What is your immediate impression?

If you’re like most people, you’re thinking that the place to be is the one that is jamb-packed. So you “join the crowd” and go wait in line. They must be doing something right!

There is ALWAYS a line of Customers at Nelson’s!

There is ALWAYS a line of Customers at Nelson’s!

But have you ever thought about what it is they are doing to get that big line of customers willing to wait in line to be served? In some cases it might just have to do with the lunchtime crowd – everyone wants to eat during the same hour and so the place it packed. But what about those places where the line of customers is not because of a rush period, but simply because it is the “best in town”?

When I see a line of customers waiting to be served, I like to ask those waiting “Why is it worth the wait?”.

The photo at the top is the daily scene outside of Nelson’s Ice Cream Shop in Stillwater, MN. It doesn’t matter when you go to Nelson’s – from the time it opens until the time it finally closes, there is a line of customers waiting to get in! So it makes me ask the question…Why?

So I spent some time walking the line of customers, interrupting their conversations to ask them just why are they willing to wait in line for Nelson’s Ice Cream. Here’s what they told me:

– Their product was HIGH QUALITY! Nelson’s Ice Cream was considered to be excellent. The quality of the product mattered to those willing to wait in line.

– They regularly OVER-DELIVER! Many in the line were their with friends, family or out of town guests because they had confidence that Nelson’s would “knock their socks off” with their unique customer service experience.

– They offer CHOICE and give you WHAT YOU WANT! Many would come to Nelson’s because you just couldn’t get what they wanted or how they wanted it anywhere else.

– They didn’t PIMP THEIR RIDE! These devoted Nelson’s customers liked the fact that they were going to be paying for a great product, not for the trappings of a fancy building, upscale surroundings or expensive extras. The focus was on the product.

WOW! Now there are 4 things we should all be asking ourself about our business!

1 – Is your product or service of the HIGHEST QUALITY? There is not doubt that the quality of the product or service matters – to most everyone. Not many customers will wait in line if the product or service is of poor quality.

2 – Do you regularly OVER-DELIVER on your customer’s expectations? Are you “knocking their socks off” with an incredible customer service experience? Customers expect good service. You’ve got to go beyond that!

3 – Are you FLEXIBLE enough to give your customer EXACTLY WHAT THEY WANT? Unless you’re hoping to emulate the McDonald’s model, you need to be flexible and nimble enough to meet your customer’s unique needs.

4 – Have you PIMPED YOUR RIDE? Have you baked in costs into your business that are unnecessary or not considered to be of value to your customers? This is a problem for many businesses. Are you having to price your product higher just to cover your nicer-than-necessary items (office, storefront, computer, car, etc.)

Maybe it’s time for you to give your business the Nelson’s Ice Cream treatment. Focus on the things that matter most to your customers, and before you know it, you’ll have a line of customers waiting to do business with you!

Oh, an if you’re ever in Stillwater, MN, be sure to stop by Nelson’s – but expect to WAIT IN LINE!

Ride Hard,

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