Everyday around 1 pm my belly starts to grumble the low pitched words “Spicy Chicken.” There is a deli across the street run by an Asian family that serves up pretty good food on the cheap. What’s remarkable about this business is the young guy at the front counter who remembers EXACTLY what everyone orders. Not just that you have the chicken sandwich, but that you have it with no mayo and extra onions and cheddar cheese. Customer after customer walks in the door and he instantly recognizes them and their usual order.

Today he saw me in line behind some “new” customers who were still making up their mind. He pointed his finger down with eyebrows raised visually asking me if I want my usual to eat in or to go. I pointed down and he called out my order to the kitchen while the ladies in line never even noticed that I had virtually skipped the line. When I get my order (with brown rice not white) he also remembers to serve it to me on a plate, and not in a styrofoam container since I mentioned my preference before.

He is also a study of efficiency wasting zero movement making change at lightning speed, calling out orders to the kitchen, calling out finished orders “Your Taco Salad is ready” and this is the amazing part – he makes eye contact with every single person while smiling and genuinely wishing each customer a nice day. This small family business might not come to a screeching halt if it weren’t for the Linchpin on this business – but it’s volume would probably be cut in half. The lunch rush is probably 75% of their sales and no matter how many people are inside this tiny deli – your order is taken within seconds of you entering the door. Ordinary performance wouldn’t cut it and sales would be lost due to line balking if it weren’t for him. It’s quite amazing to see and is truly remarkable. His attitude isn’t “how fast do I need to go to meet demand and not lose customers”, but rather “how fast can I possibly go while still being very polite.”

Lessons:
What improvements could you make to your business that could create the same “amazing service.” Could you do it WAY faster than the industry standard like our client Mor Furniture that incredibly offers SAME DAY delivery when you buy before 7:30 pm? Could you come to someone’s house to perform a beauty treatment for the same price like our client MOD Beauty Squad? Could you somehow over deliver on your ordinary promises? Make a list of the aspects of the service or product that you deliver for your customer and ask if you could make any of these extraordinary and remarkable somehow.

Here’s an ordinary deli business – one of hundreds in the city that has one remarkable quality – amazingly efficient service. It’s held together by a good team, but with an exceptional front man. Another question – who is the Linchpin in your business? Are you? Do you want to become one? The first person to reply to this email will win Seth Godin’s new book “Linchpin – Are You Indespensible”

If you are not yet an avid reader of Seth Godin you should be. You can sign up for his newsletter or RSS feed here: http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

Congratulations to Trey Smith who won December’s email reply and was sent a book.