At Your Service: July 7, 2010

Last week Thursday, at the Freshtown Marketplace grand opening, owner Noah Katz made a comment that caught my attention, “Now we get to do what we do best – run a supermarket.” It is a statement that reflects a critical self-awareness that serves any businessperson. Making a clear distinction between what we do well and what we must do can make all the difference in turning dreams into reality.
During the renovation/construction process, I was one of many who found the constant moving of product from one place to another frustrating. Noah’s acknowledgement that they were now beginning to demonstrate their strength gave me a chance to hit the refresh button on my assessment of the store. With a new eye, I found another reason to shop local.
I caught up with Noah over the weekend and had the chance to talk some more about what he does well. Not only does he understand the grocery business, he is also driven by a powerful vision for the store and its impact on the community.
Every good business starts with the belief that there is a market for something we do well. Whether we are offering direct services or selling products we understand, the idea takes flight when we identify customers who are willing to pay for what we offer. Along the way, we will also be forced to do many things we may not do as well.
It is easy to get caught up in the challenges that come from those things we don’t do well and lose sight of our original vision. Whether we are stymied by marketing, financial, construction or other management issues, our results can be altered by a lack of understanding. Only when we know the difference can we build a trusting relationship with our customers.
Customers need to know what they can count on from us. No one knows better than we do what those things are. The extent to which we bring clarity to our promotional efforts will make it easier for people to understand what they can expect to get from us. There is no shame in saying, “I have trouble understanding this aspect of business; you are paying me to do the thing I do best.”
There is a form of liberation that comes from not having to know everything. There are multitudes of people providing the very services we may not understand. It is the core principle that gives life to a business community – you use my services and I’ll use yours. It is also what makes a community attractive to those outside the community. Everyone likes to be a part of dynamic excellence.
Noah’s vision is that creating a destination grocery store will attract people from far and wide. Already we have seen people posing for pictures by the bear out front. Like other entrepreneurs that are investing in the community, the returns are more than just financial.
The rewards of making a difference enrich the experience of having a successful venture. And, the more success we have, the more we get to do that thing that we do well.