Keep It Simple (Issue 599)

In which we are reminded to help our client make decisions by limiting the number of choices to a few.

I don’t watch much television. Occasionally, “Dancing With Stars,” one of my wife’s favorites. I will watch anything that Ken Burns produces. I like Shark Tank and I am a sucker for watching “restaurant reality” shows in which either Chef Ramsey or Robert Irvine fix underperforming restaurants in unbelievably short periods of time for unbelievably low amounts of money, like “two days, $10,000.”

(This is frequently possible because the problems are typically the same. In the words of one blogger, “Service stinks, the chefs cook bland food since they don’t cook with salt, they don’t use fresh ingredients since they believe canned and frozen food is cheaper, and the kitchen and walk-in freezer are fungus and bacterial wastelands.” As the wizard said in one show, “You’re going to kill someone!”  Hungry?)

But I digress. This particular evening, we watched a show about Pastori’s [], a family operated Italian restaurant near Hartford, Connecticut. Pre-makover, the building looked tired, the family looked tired.

One of the most dramatic moments in the early part of the show came when the restaurant wizard asked the family members how many items they had on their menu. They all guessed. Then, the wizard said, “Let me show you,” and he unrolled (I’m guessing) a 15 foot long roll of paper on which were printed items from the menu… over 400 of them. Their heads rolled a bit. They had no idea. Menu simplification was one of the recommended solutions.

There are a lot of reasons why a simple, fewer-item menu makes sense. It makes sense from a food cost control point of view. It makes sense from a kitchen speed and quality point of view (do fewer things well). It makes sense from a room management point of view – diners order faster.  It also makes sense from a diner point of view – less frustration, shorter decision time.

Toward the end of the show, as Pastori’s diners were enjoying their first post-overhaul meal, one of the guests said, “I like the menu, it is simple. It all fits on one page.”

A lesson here for us sales people: Keep it simple.

Yes, our companies (particularly if they are banks) offer dozens of extremely useful products with a wide range of variations. Depending on the market segment, the number of “products” could be MANY dozens.  100 wouldn’t be too large a number.

Like make-over artists  in a thick-menued restaurant, we need to keep it simple for our clients, regardless of size and sophistication.  Complete our assessment, reduce the menu options to a few, and make a recommendation – simple to decide, simple to start, simple to digest.

In our business, as in restaurants, too many choices slows down the whole process.

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