Lessons from PG Hall of Famer Pizza Shuttle

Pizza Shuttle Mark Gold Louis Siecinski

You don’t become one of elite independent pizzeria in the country by accident. Over the last 27 years, owners Mark Gold and Louis Siecinski have built Pizza Shuttle into a Milwaukee landmark. The restaurant entered into the Purple Goldfish Project at #221 back in 2010 by Phil Gerbyshak. Pizza Shuttle has a whole school of purple goldfish.

Pizza Shuttle Purple Goldfish Hall of Famer

Here are my favorites:

  1. The Purple Cow (hat tip to Seth) – How many pizza places have a framed Andy Warhol on display? Genius interplay of pop culture and a homage to the dairy state of Wisconsin. Cheesy . . . YES and that’s the point.
  2. A Picture Booth – Take your experience home with you with a branded strip of black and white photos. Great memento for a date with your squeeze or a night out with your friends. A picture may be worth a thousand pizzas.
  3. The Largest Pie in Wisconsin – Be memorable by offering a $39.95 gut buster. According to this articleby Josh McDonald it looks like they throw in the ice cream as an added lagniappe. Nice touch.
  4. FREE WiFi – This is becoming a no brainer as of late. But again – how many pizza places are offering you complimentary wireless access?
  5. Unique hold music – Imagine wanting to be put on hold??? Smart move when you have a robust delivery business. Create some fun messages so people can be entertained while they wait.

A few weeks ago Phil Gerbyshak had an opportunity to sit down with Mark Gold to chat. Here’s the short interview:

Marketing Lagniappe Takeaway – Be unique and care. Connect with your customers on an emotional level.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – This was taken from a post by Phil Gerbyshak at philgerbyshak.com back in January:

This interview (and Stan’s book) offers tips and insights to help small businesses create a consistently outstanding customer experience for their customers, one worth talking about to everyone, online and offline.

Now on with the interview.

Phil: What is a purple goldfish?

Stan: A purple goldfish is giving a little something extra to your customer at the time of purchase. It improves your customer’s experience with you. It differentiates you from your competition. And most importantly, it gives your customers something to talk about, online and offline.

Phil: What is lagniappe (pronounced lan-yap)?

Stan: The concept has acdtually been around since 1840s. It’s creole (French and Spanish). La Napa is Spanish for the gift. Twain wrote about it in Life on the Mississippi. He said lagniappe was a word worth traveling to New Orleans to get.

Phil: What were some of your favorite Purple Goldfish?

Stan: AJ Bombers and Pizza Shuttle are 2 of my favorites from Milwaukee that you submitted. (NOTE: Links to these stories can be found at the end of this interview). But rather than use those, I’d like to share 2 or 3 others.

First, I love DoubleTree Hotels. They give you a wonderfully large and warm chocolate chip cookie as soon as you check in.

Another of my favorites is the restaurant chain Five Guys Burgers and Fries, which is not everywhere yet, but it will be soon. When you walk in, there’s a huge vat of ballpark peanuts to nosh on. Also, when you buy fries at Five Guys, you not only get the fries in the cup, you get some “bonus fries” which is another handful or two in your bag.

Southwest Airlines is a final example with their “Bags Fly Free” program. And Southwest really does a lot with many little added values.

Phil: It seems to me that creating Purple Goldfish starts with the culture. Would you agree?

Stan: I wholeheartedly agree. A Purple Goldfish is what I call a beacon. It attracts people to it, it guides the way when things are tough, and it shines a light on the entire company.

A Purple Goldfish is really an unexpected extra without any expectation of return. It’s just that little extra. Great companies get this, and companies that are struggling don’t.

Another thing to remember: Happy employees create happy customers. Do a little extra for your employees and help them do a little extra for your customers. The more you can empower your employees to do the little extra, the more you can make all the difference to your customers.

Phil: What similarities did you see between all the companies you caught in your Purple Goldfish net?

Stan: In collecting 1001 purple goldfish, it became clear there were 2 major categories:

1) Value Examples – the tangible type of goldfish where you give extra value to your customers, like extra fries.

2) Maintenance Examples – All about the little things you can do to make it easy for the customer to deal with you. One of the categories is from the convenience perspective.

What do you do when your customers are waiting? Waiting is inevitable, so find a way to do something extra. Another one is how do you recover from a mistake?

My favorite example of service recovery is an elder care company from Canada called Nurse Next Door. When someone at Nurse Next Door screws up, they apologize and send a fresh baked apple pie (think of this as humble pie) as a sign of “Hey, we screwed up. Sorry about that.” They’ve been able to track this down to customers they’ve retained, and customers that have come about as a result of these accidental screw ups – and recoveries.

Phil: Why do you think more companies deliver Purple Goldfish to their customers?

Stan: Mainly because of this fact: 90% of customers don’t complain out loud – they complain with their wallet and go somewhere else with their business, so there’s no opportunity to do service recovery. There can be no other explanation.

Phil:What’s one easy way to provide your customers a purple goldfish?

Stan: Unfortunately, there is no simple thing. Find what your company does that’s signature and find a way to add a little something extra to that. Think about what one thing you can do to stand out, and be sticky – to make folks love you and want to tell your story to a few friends – or a few thousand friends.

Something else: I think the biggest myth in marketing is MEETING EXPECTATIONS. Just like being on time. It’s a myth – either you’re on time, or you’re late. It’s just like that for expectations. Either you exceed expectations, or you fall short. There’s no middle ground.

Meeting expectations is like playing prevent defense in football. It only prevents you from doing one thing – winning.

<Phil: How can we find more about you and the Purple Goldfish book?

Stan: The book site is easy to spell and remember: http://purplegoldfish.com. If you want more examples and marketing insights, here’s one that’s harder to spell, but is my main site, http://marketinglagniappe.com.

Some final thoughts from Stan: The best businesses don’t just do one signature thing – they have a whole school of Purple Goldfish to exceed their customers expectations, each and every time they connect.