Great overview! I still remember the excitement generated when the first Chick-Fil-A opened in Southern California (they were just in the South before). In terms of process, I don’t think Chick-Fil-A’s service is meaningfully faster than that of McDonald’s or other fast food restaurants, and perhaps that is a good thing. McDonald’s elicited a lot of criticism from consumers when they instituted their 30 seconds or less drive-thru service because employees keep messing up the order. Employees also felt extremely stressed by this guarantee. Therefore, I think it’s smart that Chick-Fil-A has chosen to compete on great service (the employees respond “my pleasure” whenever you say “thank you”) and safe, comfortable environment.
As you pointed out, brand equity is a key strength of the companies. One of my former colleagues had in his office a Chick-Fil-A calendar that he cherished. Just goes to show that people are even willing to buy their merchandise and apparel because they are such fans of the company/product!
Thanks Adam! From your description, it sounds like Mendocino Farms has succeeded due to strong alignment between the customer promise (high-quality, locally-sourced food in a fun, neighborhood-y environment), the people (well-trained employees who dress the part with casual “farmer attire”), culture (positive and customer friendly), and its formal org. In a lot of ways, this company reminded me of MOD Pizza given its Southern California locations and quirky, unique culture. I really enjoyed learning more about the company! The free samples provide a great buffer as well for when the lines get long, as I imagine they do around lunch time.
I think it is only a matter of time before Mendocino Farms expands into adjacent areas like San Francisco or Seattle, which seem to also appreciate upscale locally-sourced ingredients. One question: Do they make the sandwich in front of you? It might help with the customization…
Thanks, James! I recently bought a pair of Bose earphones as a gift without knowing too much about the company other than that others considered them to be cutting-edge in terms of noise-cancelling technology. I guess I fall into their target customer camp of unsophisticated consumers willing to spend, as you described (or that their branding and slick videos work!) There is certainly a halo effect for being a consumer electronics company known for investing in R&D, as in this increasingly connected market, consumers increasingly expect the best. One question that your post raised was how Bose’s margins compare to those of competitors. Given their premium price (I thought it was pushing it) and distribution model (I know there is e-commerce, along with the high end malls and airports you mentioned), I wonder if that gives them more room to play with R&D $$. Great read, thank you!