What Georgia's Tech Companies Can Learn From Jimmy John's
Excuse me while I finish my lunch. A "Turkey Tom" sub from Jimmy John's with some extra avocado spread and an unsweetened tea. It doesn't get much more simple than some bread, slices of turkey and a few extras thrown on. Subway does it pretty good, Blimpie's is filling, but there is something about this 30 year old franchise that started in the college town of Charleston, Illinois. That "something" is what Jimmy John's does right and what some tech companies here in Georgia need to start doing better.
Can established and startup tech companies in Georgia learn something from a fledgling sub sandwich company? You betcha!
Jimmy John's is fast. The employees at my favorite location appear to be in perpetual motion. From the person taking your order to the sandwich makers. Jimmy John's will also deliver your lunch to your home of office (more on that later) and these delivery drivers are neat in appearance and quick on their feet. It even seems like Jimmy John's credit card machines are lightning fast. Some of the slow-to-react tech companies I've covered and dealt with over the years could learning something about speed and efficiency from Jimmy John's, and get lunch while they are observing.
The Size of Your Order Doesn't Matter
At Jimmy John's, it doesn't matter if you are an individual buying one sandwich to take on the go, or ordering lunch for 50. Everyone is treated the same and treated like they are a VIP. They will even send a delivery driver miles out of their way to deliver a sandwich, chips and a drink for one person. In tech, I see priorty given to the masses and the little guys are left out. What decision-makers need to realize is there are many more little guys than big monoliths. Jimmy John's hasn't forgotten that and they demonstrate this each and every day.
Ever had an "unwich?" Do you even know what one is? Jimmy John's will make you an "unwich", chances are tech companies won't. An "unwich" is a sub sandwich without the bread. It's a special order that Jimmy John's will gladly do for you by wrapping your sandwich contents in lettuce. it's also pretty good. While chances are your friendly neighborhood tech company will have plenty of colors and options for your pick from, they won't make something exactly the way you want or need it. Unless of course, you are willing to ante up and most small business people I know can't afford to do that right now. Be flexible whenever possible.
Jimmy John's restaurant different because of its ingredients. They bake their bread fresh, and all meat, cheese and veggies are of the highest quality, everything’s fresh. When was the last time a tech company had a really "fresh' idea? It happens and it happens here in Georgia, but not frequently enough. There are some great startups here in Georgia right now and I see some great potential, let's hope they use some fresh ingredients.
The Thrill of Competition
While some restaurants get nervous when a competitor moves in a few doors down, not Jimmy John's.
A Jimmy John’s manager in Ohio, Anthony Brown saw some challenges coming when a new sandwich shop called DiBella's opened up right next his shop. Sure it's tough competition, but he doesn’t see it harming Jimmy Johns. In fact, he believes the impact of DiBella’s on Jimmy John's has only helped them.
“Our business has been affected after DiBella's opened, but not in a negative way,” said Brown. “We offer something different; DiBella's serves hot subs, and we serve cold.”
Tech companies don't need to be scared of competition, they need to embrace it.
Coupons... What Coupons?
I use coupons, and I've never coupon at a Jimmy John's. They don't offer discounts or coupons very often and for good reason. They don't need to. Jimmy John's is so good, and so worth the money that you don't care about coupons. Their sandwiches are fairly priced there is no need for a special or a deal. Get your business to the point when coupons aren't necessary.
"Make a deal, keep a deal" is the Golden Rule at Jimmy John's. That message is relayed from the top. Jimmy John's employees want to be the best. They don't mind doing whatever it takes to get the job done and make customers happy. Their mindset is part of how they live their daily lives, and they enjoy the fruits of hard work and posses an entrepreneurial spirit. No matter what business you are in you need to encourage your employees like Jimmy John's does. They have over 1,200 locations they do this in, you should be able to do it at your headquarters.
Whew. I'm hungry again. I think I'll try a Roast Beef Slim. There's nothing like repeat customers, Jimmy John's gets them daily.