If you want to keep building a great business, you have to be on the lookout for new ideas and different ways to succeed.
One of the best ways to do that is finding local business success stories. Why are they succeeding? What can you learn from them? All the ideas won’t always translate to your specific business or industry—but a lot of them will.
With that in mind, I ran across a great success story out of Springfield, Missouri. We were going down to Branson for a family reunion trip and had several people suggest stopping in Springfield to pick up some Hurts Donuts on the way. It turns out this particular doughnut shop has only been open for a couple of years, but it’s booming! They have a second location and have also already franchised to several more locations with a lot more growth on the horizon.
What’s even more interesting, at least from a business perspective, is that the owners, Kas and Tim Clegg, didn’t have any previous baking experience before they opened that first store. And they bet the farm: They took literally all of their available money to open the shop and had only $7 to their name when the first customers came in the door. Yet despite all of that, they were able to pay off all their loans and start saving for long-term plans within a few months. Definitely not a typical startup, especially in the food industry.
Why did they succeed? Clearly, there’s an element of being in the right place at the right time, but that only happens when you’re doing a lot of other things right. Here are a few things they’re doing that at least partially explain their success:
When you go into Hurts Donut stores, it’s clear they’re having fun. And they’ve put a lot of thought and creativity into their products and names. With doughnuts like the Cookie Monster, it’s clear these aren’t your everyday doughnuts.
In fact, the entire menu has a lot of creativity in it, which really works well with social media. Most businesses aren’t going to be able to pull off this kind of thing successfully, but every business can have more fun. And that can have a huge impact on the customers (and how much they talk about your product or service).
Do you try to have fun with any part of your business? Do you encourage your employees to have fun?
The owners have done several things to make sure their product is easily accessible to anyone who wants it. If you’re in the area, you can have a great experience and enjoy a fantastic doughnut in less than 20 minutes and for a couple of dollars. They’re open 24 hours, every day of the year, and on top of that, they have a food truck, actually a refurbished ambulance, that goes around the community for events and special occasions.
I wouldn’t recommend being open 24 hours a day for most businesses, but it is important that people can easily try your product or service.
Do you have ways for your potential customers to check you out without a lot of hurdles? Can they try before they buy? Can they get a sample?
It’s a critical balancing act to figure out the right pricing. You have to make a strong profit margin on your product or service, but you also have to be viewed as a reasonable price for what you’re offering. You can buy doughnuts at a lot of places—grocery stores and convenience stores have them by the box for only a few bucks. However, you can only get Hurts Donuts at Hurts … so it’s expected that they’ll be priced at a premium. And they are, but it’s comparable to a Dunkin’ Donuts.
Hurts has a clever pricing approach. If you want to pick out your own doughnuts, either a dozen or a half-dozen, it’s a slight premium. If you let them pick out your dozen, it’s a dollar a doughnut. You get a better price, and they get to drive the experience (and make sure they balance out their inventory). It’s an excellent idea.
Does your pricing reflect a smart value to your customers? When’s the last time you reviewed it?
Of course, none of the attributes listed above will matter if you don’t have a quality product (or service). Hurts makes a really good doughnut. I didn’t get a chance to try everything, but the several that I did try were all excellent, even a day or two later. The good news is that once you figure out a “recipe” for how to do something the right way, it should be easy to follow. Unfortunately, not all businesses are quite as straightforward as doughnuts. But the concept’s the same.
How much do you focus on quality? When’s the last time you looked at improving what you offer?
What Could You Learn From Hurts?
Donuts are fun and delicious, so it’s not a surprise that people love them. It’s possible this is a passing trend like cupcakes were a few years ago. But … there are a million places to buy doughnuts, and most of them aren’t having the kind of success that Hurts is having. Your business is almost certainly not a doughnut shop, and you may not have the potential for people lining up at your door for your product or services, but you can always learn new ideas and find ways to get better—and just having the willingness to do that will put you ahead of a lot of your competitors.